Chinese Mutton Soup – Hong Wen Mutton Soup

Chinese Mutton SoupThere are basically two main types of mutton soups in Singapore – the Indian Muslim Sup Kambing and the Chinese Mutton Soup which is again sub-divided into several dialect groups but the most common namely; the Hainanese Mutton Soup. Other variations are the Teochew and seldom if any to be found in stalls and restaurants, the Cantonese version.

As some of you might have picked up from my posts and recipes, I like my food full bodied and rich in spices. I must admit my favourite mutton soup is the Indian version for reasons stated. It is rich in taste and spices, which also mask the “gamey” meat well. My tolerance for game foods have gone down many notches so I am sensitive these days.

I have eaten Indian mutton soups on several ocassions but the last time I had Chinese mutton soup was about 8 years ago at Beauty World Centre along Upper Bukit Timah Road. So when Keef suggested going to Hong Wen’s for lunch, I grab the chance to see if they were better than I remembered.

IMG_9104 Hong Wen Mutton Soup is a famous stall having operated in Beauty World Centre Rooftop for more than twenty years.

IMG_9111a©BondingToolTheir signature dish is Mutton Ribs topped with piping hot broth and heavily garnished with cilantro. A dash of Chinese rice wine and some ginger are added just before serving.

Mr. Tan was preparing our lunch this afternoon and I of course whipped out my camera to catch him in action. I had hoped he might think I’m some food critic of importance and be “intimidated” into giving us better cuts and portions with my clicking away, lol… He looked serious enough preparing his fare and you could sense his pride when he neatly cut up the ribs with rhythmic precision.

IMG_9114©BondingToolIn the back of the stall is his personal “butchery”. Mr. Tan prepares everything from scratch and uses only fresh meat while many hawkers have turned to frozen meat in favour of lower costs. The flavour of his soup therefore tasted far more superior than the other copycats popping up around the island, using the name Hong Wen Mutton Soup, over the recent years.

Our lunch was prepared methodically and I could see reasonably big chunks going into our order of mixed mutton and ribs soup.

IMG_9118©BondingToolChinese Mutton Soup is not as common as the Indian Sup Kambing and is radically different in taste. Chinese mutton soup can be more complex if Chinese herbs are used. The balance is important as we believe Chinese herbs have medicinal values. Traditionally, mutton is considered a “heaty” meat and using the right herbs to balance the yin and yang of the dish played an essential role in nutrition and not just the taste experience.

Whilst we eat the Indian mutton soup with crusty French loaf cubed into bite size dipping pieces, Chinese mutton soups are usually consumed with a bowl of plain white rice.

IMG_9125©BondingToolA bowl of mixed soup consisting of bone marrow, ribs, tripe and stomach. The tender organ meats did not smell or tasted gamey at all.

IMG_9128a©BondingToolMutton Ribs Soup with generous amount of cilantro in clear broth hinted of Chinese rice wine and Hong Wen’s special gravy sauce.  I did find the meat slightly gamey but the vinegared chilli dip was good enough to mask the smell and I successfully ingested my share of the meal.

IMG_9134a©BondingToolThe ribs had been trimmed of visible fats as much as possible and that has comforted many healthy conscious diners. Mutton fats are linked to heart disease and has been known to be very high in cholesterol in the minds of Singaporeans. Yet, I have read Lean Mutton Rice Porridge is considered healthy from a nutritional booklet years ago. I am confused but I think a little of everything is okay when one is of relative good health. That said, I must stress that I am not qualified to comment if these concerns are factual so please, please, please… Always consult your doctor or seek professional  nutritionist’s opinion should you need to be on a special diet or have concerns about your diet.

IMG_9138©BondingToolAs with any food, please eat in moderation. Live to eat 🙂


Hong Wen Mutton Soup
Address: 144 Upper Bukit Timah Road,
#04-20 Beauty World Centre.
Singapore 588177.

Tel: 96978753 (Mr Tan)

Operating hours: (Closed on Mondays)
11:00am – 8:00 pm

Happy food hunting 🙂

2 Responses to “Chinese Mutton Soup – Hong Wen Mutton Soup”
  1. I put on weight just reading your blog.

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