Yu Tang Clan — an ingenious wordplay on the American hip hop band Wu Tang Clan — are a group of badass fish soup makers in the CBD that will make you fall in love with their interesting variety of flavours.
I mean, how amazing can fish soup be right? Pretty amazing apparently, and if you’re having doubts, it’s time to pop by the store at 1 Shenton Way to find out.
Claiming to be a specialist in King Mackerel, the head chef told us that he has 30 years of experience in handling the fish that have been sourced from the deep Indian Ocean. He makes sure to remove the fish skin to ensure that they remain mercury-free.
The popular fish soup hawker stall shifted from Philip Street to its new residence here in mid 2016, and now occupies a cosy corner of the building alongside other eateries.
Only two rows of tables fill the limited space in front of the shop, so be prepared to wait for a seat during peak hours like lunchtime. If you’re hoping to avoid the crowd, then come by between 2pm to 3pm.
The shop name isn’t the only thing that’s interesting — being way more advanced than most fish soup stalls, Yu Tang Clan accelerates the ordering process with two touch screen booths. Don’t worry about a dreaded snaking queue as you efficiently place your order electronically and make payment via the cash or credit card modes.
There are six flavours to choose from the Set Menu, eight A la Carte options, and eight different side dishes to complete your meals. You can also choose the types of rice or noodles to have with your soup, and for all you health junkies, you’ll be happy to know that there are wheat noodles and brown rice alternatives.
Beauty Set ($13.80)
You’ve heard of beauty pots and collagen steamboats and now you can slurp your very own bowl selfishly with the Beauty Set. Popular amongst the OLs, the bowl is rich with a smooth, milky consistency.
Make no mistake though, no milk or MSG has been added to the broth. Instead, shark bones and other secret ingredients are boiled daily from 6.30am and simmered over a low heat throughout the day. Adding on to the healthy factor, you’ll find the broth laden with goji berries, silken tofu and shimeji mushrooms.
At Yu Tang Clan, expect your bee hoon to come in thinner strands. I’ve always been a fan of thinner bee hoon, which has a bouncier and lighter texture.
Yu Tang Signature ($18.80)
Using the same collagen-filled broth, the Yu Tang Signature is packed with natural sweetness from premium ingredients used including an abalone, fried fish skin, sotong balls and prawns.
Miso Set ($13.80) / a la carte ($11.80)
Set meals come with a side dish that you can choose from the menu. I’d definitely recommend getting the fried prawn rolls, which were crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside. They were a delicious snack to have in between mouthfuls of soup.
Catering to the Japanese professionals in the area, the Miso base tasted close to what you’ll get at a Japanese restaurant and was wonderfully umami. Enjoy it while it’s piping hot though, as I found it tasted slightly saltier when cooled.
A small amount of shichimi chilli pepper is sprinkled on top for a spicy kick, enhancing the flavours further.
Tom Yum Set ($13.80) / a la carte ($11.80)
If you’re looking for a spicy tang to whet your appetite, the homemade tom yum base is a must-try. Pair it with Koka noodles and you’ll get a bowl of comfort food, great for rainy days when all you want is something to warm you up.
Milk is added to thicken the soup instead of the usual coconut milk, as it doesn’t cause stomach bloating. Aww…aren’t they thoughtful?
Sichuan Set ($13.80) / a la carte ($11.80)
Not for the faint-hearted, this unassuming bowl may look just like any spicy variation of fish soup you can get elsewhere. Don’t be fooled! Laced with peppercorns, the distinctive spiciness intensified within seconds of sipping on it, coating my entire tongue in numbness.
I’d say skip this if you’re not a fan of mala. But hey, props to the chef for making it taste authentic.
Teochew Set ($12.80) / a la carte ($10.80)
For those who aren’t feeling adventurous enough to try out the different flavours mentioned above, the Teochew fish soup is one you can safely fall back on.
The broth is flavoured with bits of kelp, giving it a strong seaweed taste that ties in well with the other ingredients.
You could opt to have the King Mackerel fried too and they’ll include lightly battered pieces instead to enjoy in your soup.
Fresh Mack Congee ($6.80)
Yu Tang Clan offers a variety of congee as well and the Fresh Mack Congee felt absolutely comforting to have. Served with generous portions of braised peanuts, pickled vegetables, mock meat and shredded ginger, it reminded me of home cooked food.
If you’re having the sniffles at work, you can count on this dish to help make you feel better.
Cool off from the heat with a sweet bowl of dessert where the usual sago is replaced with bits of aloe vera instead, making it all the more refreshing to have after a meal.
While the price of each fish soup at Yu Tang Clan doesn’t sound as appealing as the dishes, it’s not hard to see why they’re priced steeply as compared to competitors.
Besides paying for large slices of fresh King Mackerel that are bouncy in texture, every ingredient and flavour is thoughtfully added into the soup to cater to almost every palate. It’s their sincerity that elevates this common hawker fare into something extraordinary.
It’s not often that you’ll find eateries that are concerned about their customers benefiting from what they serve, and I’d gladly become a regular customer if only my office was nearby. Keep an eye on their Facebook page – we’ve been told that they have plans on opening a steamboat place nearby featuring these soups and we just can’t wait.
Expected damage: $6.80 – $18.80