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Ming Shan: 81-year-old herbal mutton soup recipe with tender meat & offals by 3rd-gen hawker

Rarely do my folks and I venture into the realm of lamb, fearing its potential gaminess. But guess what? Our first dive at mutton soup was at Lao Wu Ji Mutton Soup, which unexpectedly blew our socks off. Now, we’re wondering if Ming Shan at

Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre can match up or if we’ll be left disappointed— I promise, no biasness!

ming shan - stall
ming shan - stall

While chatting with the 3rd-gen owner, I found out that the current stall has been around for over 40 years, having relocated once within the same food centre. Back in 1943, The business began its journey at Thong Chai Medical Institution.

ming shan - lamb ribs
ming shan - lamb ribs
ming shan - lamb broth
ming shan - lamb broth

Following an 81-year-old recipe, the broth is boiled for nearly 3 hours, involving over 11 types of Chinese herbs. I was trying my best to decipher the Chinese words on the signboard which stated the benefits of consuming herbal mutton soup. They include treating insomnia and boosting your ‘qi‘ (hopefully, I’m right).

What I tried at Ming Shan

ming shan - mutton mee sua
ming shan - mutton mee sua

I kicked off with the small Mutton Mee Sua Soup (S$6). It packed wheat vermicelli, pieces of mutton, goji berries, bits of Chinese celery, all doused in a translucent light-brown broth.

ming shan - mutton broth
ming shan - mutton broth

I tackled the broth first. Its consistency was a tad thick and starchy, probably from the mee sua. While it went down smooth and light, its taste left me torn. If you’re not a fan of bold herbal kicks, this soup’s your jam. But if you crave a punchier flavour like I do, it might come off a bit diluted.

20240215044514 IMG 5657
20240215044514 IMG 5657

I really enjoyed the texture of the vermicelli— a lovely balance of firmness, offering a gratifying chew, unlike the mushy versions I’ve experienced elsewhere. The little bursts of sweetness from the wolfberries were a delightful touch, while the Chinese celery added a subtle, grassy finish to the mix.

ming shan - mutton flesh
ming shan - mutton flesh

My teeth glided through the mutton effortlessly, encountering no resistance. The meat was very tender and didn’t contain any hint of that gamey aftertaste— pure bliss! But if I had to nitpick, it’d be the portion size and the abundance of bones.

ming shan - mixed set
ming shan - mixed set

I then moved on to the small Mixed Mutton Soup Special (S$10). This bowl had 1 colossal bone-in tendon, a lone mutton ball, mutton pieces and tripe, all swimming in mutton broth and topped with wolfberries and Chinese celery. To play it safe, I also snagged 2 bowls of Plain Rice (S$0.70 each) on standby, just in case things got a tad salty!

ming shan - mixed set closeup
ming shan - mixed set closeup

I was determined to give the mutton broth a second chance, this time without the mee sua. Indeed, it was less starchy than the previous dish. The soup was faintly sweet and the herbal notes, particularly star anise, were more pronounced, but it still lacked the oomph that Lao Wu Ji Mutton Soup possessed.

ming shan - tendon closeup
ming shan - tendon closeup

I lifted the massive piece of tendon. It was a rare sight to see it still firmly attached to the bone, giving it the appearance of a rib. I had to do a double-take to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

Unfortunately, despite its impressive size, I struggled to extract much tendon and meat. It was also too firm for my liking.

ming shan - tripe
ming shan - tripe

The tripe pieces were expertly prepared. Each surface gleamed with pristine cleanliness, and they were wonderfully soft, bursting with flavour.

ming shan - ball
ming shan - ball

With only 1 mutton ball in sight, we decided to divide the poor fella into 3 equal parts among myself and my 2 dining companions. Although that tiny piece was delicious, it felt like an amuse-bouche; it tantalised my palate but left me craving for more.

ming shan - dunk in chilli
ming shan - dunk in chilli

As I dunked my mutton pieces into the chilli dip, my small, slitty eyes widened in surprise. The tanginess hit me full force, delivering a burst of citrusy freshness and spice to the meat.

ming shan - dunk in dark soya sauce
ming shan - dunk in dark soya sauce

I went full throttle, double-dipping the mutton pieces in chilli, then dark soya sauce. The payoff? A flavour rollercoaster consisting of tangy, spicy, savoury and sweet notes all swirling together— shiok!

Final thoughts

ming shan - overview
ming shan - overview

Throughout the article, if you felt that I was comparing the mutton soup at Ming Shan to my virgin experience at Lao Wu Ji Mutton Soup, I apologise. Don’t get me wrong, the soup was decent with tender meat and all.

But I felt that the flavours could be more concentrated and not taste so watered down. I wonder, did I catch them on the wrong day? Also, the portioning could be better as I felt that it wasn’t really value for money.

If you do get the chance to patronise Ming Shan, do let me know what your honest thoughts are.

Expected damage: S$6 – S$13 per pax

The post Ming Shan: 81-year-old herbal mutton soup recipe with tender meat & offals by 3rd-gen hawker appeared first on SETHLUI.com.