Shu Xiang: Authentic native Chinese cai fan spot in Orchard with over 30 dishes & loaded portions

Shu Xiang at Far East Plaza was recommended to me by my ex-colleague-turned-friend, Adam, a native Chinese guy from Harbin, China. It serves a huge assortment of Northern Chinese-style dishes, and here comes the focal point: he eats here every single day!

Shu Xiang - Front entrance

And it wasn’t just him; I spotted a handful of ex-workmates from China head over to dabao during their lunch break. I even saw a Chinese student from the nearby Furen International School in line— now, that’s got to mean something!

Don’t pay attention to the numerous pictures of different Chinese dishes displayed outside the eatery. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Shu Xiang used to serve à la carte dishes. It was only during the circuit breaker period that they changed to a cai fan concept.

Shu Xiang - Food variety

When I arrived, I instantly understood the appeal of this place. As I took a sacred moment to admire the marvellous display of dishes, my jaw nearly dropped to the floor.

Shu Xiang - Food choices

There were over 30 different varieties, decked out in a kaleidoscope of colours, similar to our local cai fan but cooked in a native-Chinese style. The delightful sight had worked up my appetite, and I couldn’t wait to start tucking in.

What I tried at Shu Xiang

Shu Xiang - Adam's choice

For the first plate of food, I asked Adam to order what he would usually get on a working day. For S$5, he got Plain Rice, Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Tofu and Stir-Fried Cabbage. A reasonable price, I would say, especially considering that we were in the Orchard area.

“You can also ask for more rice at no extra charge,” he exclaimed.

Shu Xiang - kung pao chicken

The chicken cubes of the kung pao were tender and drenched in the savoury-sweet gravy. The cubes of Japanese cucumber, onions and dried chilli added a satisfying element of crunch and character to the dish.

Shu Xiang - tofu & cabbage

The Mapo Tofu had soft pieces of silky tofu which instantly crumbled in my mouth with Sichuan pepper bits injecting subtle numbing sensations on my tongue.

Unlike its 2 flavourful comrades on the plate, the cabbage had a gentler demeanour with a symphony of mellower flavours and an irresistible crunch. It helped to tone down the overall richness and made the plate of food more harmoniously balanced.

Shu Xiang - la pi, and kou shui ji

It was my turn to make my choice and oh, did my eyes sparkle like stars when I spotted the treasure trove of liang pi (cold skin noodles).

Shu Xiang - la pi, long beans and sliced veggies

Instead of rice, I opted for Stir-Fried Liang Pi and added Kou Shui Ji (mouth-watering chicken), Long Beans with Pork, and Sauteed Gourd with Pork, which cost S$7.

Shu Xiang - la pi closeup

Though the Stir-Fried Liang Pi had the simplest of ingredients: chilli flakes and sliced Japanese cucumbers, it managed to bewitch my palate with its silky, chewy texture. The coating of chilli oil and flakes also added a gentle heat that danced delicately on the tongue while the cucumbers gave it some crunch (chef’s kiss).

Shu Xiang - kou shui ji

The Kou Shui Ji is usually served at other Chinese establishments or in China as a cold appetiser, but over at Shu Xiang, it takes on a warm embrace.

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With each hearty bite of the chicken, a fiery explosion ignites the senses, followed by the numbing effect of the Sichuan peppercorns. The dish truly lived up to its name— it whetted my appetite and enticed me to yearn for more.

Shu Xiang - veggies

The Sauteed Gourd with Pork had carrot shreds, bits of wood ear mushroom and carrots stir-fried with dou ban jiang (spicy bean sauce) which gave off a distinctive spicy and savoury taste. The Long Beans with Pork was your usual stir-fried pork and vegetable combo which was nothing to shout about.

Shu Xiang - final dish

For our third and final plate, my colleague, Shayndel chose Plain Rice, Stir-Fried Tomato Egg, Fried Chicken Cubes and Braised Fish with Green Chilli (S$6.50).

Shu Xiang - egg closeup

The Stir-Fried Tomato Egg glistened under a luscious layer of sauce which further enhanced the dish’s attractiveness. It was sweet, slightly tart and creamy all at once, making it the accompaniment to spoon over the rice for a shiok combination.

Shu Xiang - fish with green chilli

The Braised Fish with Green Chilli was soft and enveloped in a pale-yellowish sauce which was mildly savoury and tangy. The green chilli bits, though not spicy, added a wonderful aroma and a bit more bite, enhancing its overall appeal.

Shu Xiang - chicken

The Fried Chicken Cubes reminded me of a stripped-down version of la zi ji without all the chunky peanuts, Sichuan peppercorns and dried chilli peppers covering it. The golden brown mini nuggets were flash-fried to perfection and sprinkled with chilli powder to give the crispy bites a light hint of spice.

Final thoughts

Shu Xiang - overview

If you’re shopping around Orchard Road and looking for an affordable and filling meal, why not head over to Shu Xiang for a satisfying plate of native-Chinese style cai fan

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but queues can get fairly long during peak lunch hours. So do try to head down during off-peak hours.

Expected damage: S$5 – S$8 per pax

Taiwan Fan Bao: Taiwanese-style cai fan with saba fish, chicken thigh & $3.50 pork belly buns

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Shu Xiang

14 Scotts Road, #01-22 , Singapore 228213

Our Rating 4/5

Shu Xiang

14 Scotts Road, #01-22 , Singapore 228213

Operating Hours: 7pm - 8pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 7pm - 8pm (Daily)