Hong Wen Mutton Soup: Nearly 60 years of tradition with tasty Teochew-style mutton soup at Beauty World

Bukit Timah has been a popular area for foodies since the early 2000s. As a former Rafflesian, Beauty World Centre was one of my common hangout spots. For as long as I can remember, Hong Wen Mutton Soup has been located in the airy food court at the top of Beauty World Centre.

The whole mall is nostalgic, unlike most modern shopping centres. Beauty World Centre is filled with enrichment centers for the many schools and students in the Bukit Timah estate, as well as traditional Chinese massage parlours and old-school hair salons. With several fast food and bubble tea shops sprinkled at the entrance of the building, you’d be surprised to find a whole food court with a spread of renowned stalls available on the top floor.

Take a step into the open-aired food area and you’ll see Hong Wen Mutton Soup on your left.

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About 50 years ago, the original Hong Wen opened his store at the now defunct Seventh Mile Market. Now taken over by 2nd generation owners, the stall is run by the two sons of the original store owner, with another outlet maintained by one of the siblings.

There’s a persistent queue of 3 to 4 people every time I turn to look at the stall, so I know they have attracted a crowd of loyal customers. Admittedly, I’m not being the biggest fan of mutton because of it’s heavy tasting gaminess. As a result, I know that the key factor in identifying a good mutton soup stall is the chef’s ability to eliminate the gamey mutton taste.

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The menu, which features 4 distinct items, is displayed at the front of the stall. From its stomach to its tendons, each item includes different parts of the sheep. There’s even a mixture of ingredients available!

I took a look at the prices and they seemed rather steep. After a quick Google, I found that it is because of the different strategic conditions it takes to yield sheep as compared to other animals.

Enough with my ramble, I was intrigued by the aroma of herbs wafting through the air. Have I even mentioned the huge chunk of meat readily steamed by the front of the store?

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The metal container below is filled with immensely rich broth, served to customers piping hot upon order. The huge chunk of mutton sits on top of a metal strainer that sifts out the juices for a stronger taste of mutton in the stew. It is no wonder why my broth tasted so rich.

What I tried at Hong Wen Mutton Soup

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I ordered the Mixed Mutton Soup. For S$10, it contained a mixture of sheep tendons, stomach and tender meat. I opted for a bowl of rice as well for an additional S$0.50 so that I could have the full experience like what many loyal customers had. The follower in me noticed a particularly elderly couple savouring their own bowls of mutton soup. I guess the endearing endorsement of these customers urged me to try a bowl of my own. It has to be good, right?

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First impressions? Promising. Look at the amount of ingredients they include in a bowl and you’ll understand why. You don’t get bits of small pieces in this bowl; for S$10, you get a directly proportionate serving!

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Now for the ultimate taste test of the chef’s skills and family recipe. I must say that Hong Wen Mutton Soup did a very good job in masking the gamey taste. Struck with a strong hit of sweet aroma, I was immediately comforted by its taste.

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Am I really surprised by the sweetness though? The natural sweetness that is identifiable in every sip comes from generous inclusion of goji berries.

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The mutton was cooked to perfection with no uncomfortably overpowering taste. When accompanied by the robust soup flavour, there’s only one word to describe it: super shiok!

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With just a pinch of my chopsticks, you can see the meat tenderly falling apart. Likewise, it melted in my mouth.

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I am really not a fan of intestines but the stomach really surprised me. Served in thin slices, there was no apparent gamey taste that came with it. It had a good amount of flavour that wasn’t smelly like some other intestines.

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Dip any piece of meat into their chilli and it’ll have a much more palatable taste. Their chilli is sweeter, similar to Thai chilli. Try dipping a piece of meat in the chilli and have a sip of soup— everything just goes extremely well together.

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If you notice the huge chunks of boney structures in the bowl, those are the tendons. Its gelatinous nature pairs quite well with rice. Imagine my surprise when I bit into the bone— it was that tender!

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If I have to commend something, it would be the dollops of garlic in the soup. The broth is packed with immense flavour probably from the generous addition of herbs and condiments.

Final thoughts

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Personally, I enjoy sweeter-tasting soups because that was what appealed to my liking when I was younger, but this has got to be one of the best Chinese-style mutton soups I’ve ever had. The ability to create a sweet-tasting bowl of herbal goodness takes skills and years of training, and Hong Wen Mutton Soup goes to show that mutton soup doesn’t necessarily have to appeal to the older crowd.

Even as a person who doesn’t really fancy mutton soup, I enjoyed my meal over at Hong Wen Mutton Soup, so I’ll bet that you’ll enjoy it too.

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Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Hong Wen Mutton Soup

144 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Beauty World Centre, #04-20, Singapore 588177

Our Rating 4/5

Hong Wen Mutton Soup

144 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Beauty World Centre, #04-20, Singapore 588177

Operating Hours: 11am - 3pm (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon

Operating Hours: 11am - 3pm (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon