Fish soups in food court are dime-in-a-dozen, but Yu Zhong Bu Tong 鱼众不同 found at Wisma Atria’s Food Republic is not like your typical stall.
How many farm-to-table food court stalls do you know?
It serves fresh fish harvested daily from a local fish farm, and cooked in various appetising broths including Sichuan-style Shui Zhu Yu.
The offerings such as the signature Collagen Fish Soup with a bowl of rice, goes for only $9.80 nett for an individual portion.
Yu Zhong Bu Tong 鱼众不同 is probably the first in Singapore to offer locally-produced live fresh fish in a food court setting.
What a clever name, a play of the Chinese phrase 与众不同, which means “out of the ordinary”.
While it is located within Food Republic, it can be considered an eatery with its own table, seats, and enclosed space.
What’s noteworthy is that the brand harvests marine fish from its own local coastal farm, with practices that are aligned with responsible farming.
Whole live marine fish are delivered daily from its farm straight to the kitchen, ensuring absolute freshness.
The eco-friendly sensibility to its menu, where it practises head-to-tail sustainable dining with various side dishes for diners to discover.
Here’s how ordering works:
– The fish soups come in four signature flavours of Spicy Poached (Shui Zhu Yu), Sauerkraut (Suan Cai Yu), Tomato Fish, and Collagen Fish Soup, priced at $9.80 per order.
Each portion of the soups comes with two add-ons of choice (they call it “sides” here) and a bowl of rice.
Add-ons feature big beansprouts, black fungus, tofu skin, Chinese lettuce, enoki mushroom, tomatoes, pine mushrooms, tofu, tofu skin, glass noodles, tapioca thin noodles and more. Two are provided complimentary with the soup, and you can request for more at $1.50 each.
Note that fishes as delivered fresh, the soup items may be sold out earlier on certain days depending on demand. Here’s what you can expect from Yu Zhong Bu Tong:
Spicy Poached Fish Soup 水煮鱼 ($9.80)
The classic Sichuan dish of ”Shui Zhu Yu in which fish slices are cooked in an aromatic, spicy, and numbing broth.
While this dish is commonly found in Sichuan and grilled fish restaurants in bigger servings, you can now enjoy having an individual bowl all to yourself.
They have a chef from China to come out the recipe, to reach a balance between something classically Sichuan and suitable for the local palates.
In the preparation of this fish soup, ingredients include dried chilli padi, spicy chilli sauce, spicy bean sauce, dried chilli padi and specially sourced spice-infused chilli oil.
For spice lovers in Singapore I would say this is about medium-spiciness (”zhong la”), though not as numbing and greasy as what you would get in a Chinese restaurant.
A healthier and tastier method of cooking helps retain the best flavours and nutrition of the fish.
As only fresh seabass is used, the slices are tender with mildly sweet flavour. Of the four bowls, this is one of my favourites.
Sauerkraut Fish Soup 酸菜鱼 ($9.80)
The Sichuan-style fish soup of “Suan Cai Yu is translated as “hot and sour fish with pickled mustard greens”.
What you get is sliced seabass poached in semi-rich broth with piquant and zesty taste.
A 6-month-old naturally-fermented pickled mustard sauerkraut is incorporated to lend an appetising acidity and distinct spicy-sour taste.
For those who are worried about spiciness, I would say the level is actually quite manageable and not too numbing, while it still maintains its punchy flavours.
Tomato Fish Soup 公举番茄鱼 ($9.80)
The Tomato Fish Soup made with fresh tomatoes is a great option for families with children, with a sweetness that tails off to slight tartness.
The sweetness of the tomatoes is rather apparent when I took the first sip, slightly thicker than what I initially imagined.
I would personally wish for the sour flavours to be more obvious, but this is overall pretty appetising and great during cooler weathers.
Collagen Fish Soup 胶原白汤 ($9.80)
The Collagen Fish broth is prepared by boiling fresh fish bones, fresh fish scales and fresh fish maw for many hours to extract all the collagen and nutrients from the fish.
Revealed to be the most popular amongst office workers so far, it is made more value-for-the-buck with generous servings of live fresh fish slices.
The word “collagen” may give the impression that the soup base would be richer and thicker in consistency. It was in reality more on the mellow side, suitable for diners who do not want such a heavy-going lunch.
If you are looking for a variety of starters and sides to complement your fish soup, look out both cold and hot dishes of Zesty Winter Melon ($3.80), Cold-served Vegetarian Mix ($3.80), Cold-Served Pearl Brinjal ($3.80), Fish Skin Salad ($7.80), Fresh Green Mussels with Spicy Sauce ($7.80), and Spicy Stir-Fried Fish & Bones ($7.80).
You would notice other parts of the fish used in other dishes, as the brand practises head-to-tail sustainable dining for near zero wastage.
While I am not usually a ‘shell-person’, my favourite would be the Fresh Green Mussels with Spicy Sauce ($7.80).
The mussels are also harvested and delivered live daily, simply poached.
You can have the briny, plump mussels on its own or dip into an addictive Chef’s special spicy sauce which just gives a tasty lift.
The Fried Fresh Fish Bites with Mustard Dips ($7.80) was a straight-forward item of crispy deep-fried fish nuggets that make for easy consumption.
Wash it all down with Chef’s Special Sour Plum Drink ($2.80) – a refreshing tea of dried sourplums and hawthorn berries, or Flower Tea ($2.80).
Yu Zhong Bu Tong
Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, #04-02, Singapore 238877 (within Food Republic)
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm Last orders 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Yu Zhong Bu Tong.