An Authentic Chaoshan-style Hotpot Experience Awaits at a Hidden Gem in Chinatown
This is my first experience with Chaoshan-style hotpot, and perhaps will be yours too.
Chaoshan-style hotpot is a relatively newer concoction, originating in China’s Guangdong Province in the 20th-century.
Unlike the famous Sichuan hotpot, Chaoshan is not overly spicy, promising a robust soup full of meaty flavours.
In Singapore, hotpot enthusiasts wishing to savour this Chinese speciality should head over to Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hotpot, located at New Bridge Road near Chinatown MRT station.
Under the tutelage of Chef Fu, who has over 25 years of culinary experience, the recently-opened 80-seater restaurant promises a memorable gastronomic affair brimming with authenticity.
When preparing the Chaoshan hotpot, the chefs put emphasis on three particular aspects of the preparation whose base ingredient is beef stock.
These include the richness of the soup’s base, the quality of the beef, and the uniqueness of the dipping sauces that give a distinct taste.
There are different types of soup bases to discover from Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hotpot:
Signature Oxtail Soup($20)
The Oxtail Soup is the restaurant’s signature soup base. To keep the dish’s originality intact, Chef Fu and his team capture the essence of Chaoshan-style hotpot by securing only top-quality, fresh beef for their soups.
Slow-cooked for at least 10 hours, it includes ten flavour-inducing ingredients and herbs. The most important being fresh, premium-grade beef.
The final result is a full-bodied broth with a thick, curry-like disposition, giving the soup a much-admired depth.
While it is not the most common soup bases around in Singapore, you would find this earthy, warm and comforting, which I find good with good to go with beef slices and Teochew Beef Meatballs.
Another choice would be Cow Bone Soup ($16) prepared with a mix of beef bones, white radish and fresh carrots.
Mushroom Soup ($16)
Surprise, surprise, this turn out to be my favourite soup base. The restaurant’s Mushroom Soup combines the earthiness of three different types of mushrooms with the sweetness of red dates, various herbs, and wolfberries.
It is an unusual blend that works surprisingly well while influencing the broth with a tasteful vigour.
The secret behind the distinctness of this preparation, though, is twofold. Firstly, the chef uses poria mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and abalone mushrooms, each adding its own character to the broth’s complexity.
However, it is the 10 hours of simmering that eventually gives the soup its hearty and aromatic personality, making it a bona fide favourite.
While I found the soup slightly on the saltier side (just a tad), it was good with items such white meats, fish paste and vegetables.
Spicy Mala Soup ($16)
Spicy Mala is among the most popular hotpot soup bases featuring chillies and Sichuan peppercorns.
Chaoshan hotpot is typically milder and more manageable in terms of heat, and thus preferred by enthusiasts who do not have a penchant for overly spicy food.
But then, there is a different kind of delight in having a tongue-numbing soup.
So this would be good for those liking something not too fiery.
Tomato Soup ($16)
Deep red, slightly thinner than I expected, and lighter on the stomach, it has a familiar sweet and tangy taste that is very comforting.
This soup base is more towards the sweet side.
Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hotpot is a place to enjoy delicious meat cuts, especially beef. The price is not too bad as well.
For instance, a plate of premium sirloin or neck costs $70 to $80 elsewhere. Here, you can relish the same for nearly half the price at $35+.
It is also good to know that the beef comes from countries like Japan and Australia.
Meat selections here include the Japanese Sirloin ($35), Japanese Neck ($35), Beef Blade ($13), Beef Chuck ($16), Beef Flank ($12), Beef Shank ($13), Beef Meltique Striploin ($26), Beef Tenderloin ($18), Beef Tongue ($18), Black Pork ($18), Pork Belly ($13) and more.
Japanese Sirloin ($35)
The chefs demonstrate extensive knowledge of knife skills, a crucial aspect of the preparation. Even a moderately thicker cut can alter the texture of the meat.
Japanese Sirloin is one of the leaner cuts. Thinly sliced, it takes between 5 to 10 seconds to cook.
Having a melt-in-your-mouth quality, the sirloin pairs well with one of the sweeter soups like Oxtail or Tomato.
Beef Flank ($12)
Beef flank is another lean cut with next to no fat content. It is tougher but promises a bold and markedly beefy taste.
Although the meat slices are thinly cut, the flank is ideal for dunking into the Spicy Mala soup due to its rigid texture.
Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hotpot sources the Beef Flank from specialized purveyors in limited quantities. This helps maintain the freshness of the meat.
(Pre-order is recommended for both the Japanese Sirloin and Beef Flank.)
Teochew Beef Meatballs ($18 for 8 pcs)
The Teochew Beef Meatballs are arguably the most versatile option on the menu. You can have them with any of the soups.
Pounded by hand to make them tender and then rolled into large two-bite-sized balls, they are springy in texture.
The meatballs take approximately 4-5 minutes in the broth before they are ready to eat. Remember to move them around, so they have an even cook.
I liked the already-present succulence in the meatballs, and enjoyed it further when dipped into the house-made chilli sauce.
Dipping sauces, a hotpot essential, give that final push to enriching every individual bite’s flavour profile.
The Sha Cha Jiang is a Fujian-style sauce that goes great with beef. Consisting of shrimp, peanuts, and soy sauce, it adds nutty saltiness to the meat.
Made with fish roe, the Yu Zi Jiang gives an umami kick to the spoonful of meat and soup. Again, although seafood-based, the sweet, salty, bitter, and sour taste of the fish roe mergers wonderfully with beef.
Two more special sauces are the Sesame Sauce and the Homemade Chilli Sauce. The former is full of nutty goodness. In contrast, the latter is spicy but with a mild suggestion of earthiness in the end.
Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hotpot Launch promotion
Diners can now enjoy an ALL DAY Hotpot Value Set Meal for 2 pax at ONLY $29.90++ (U.P. $69.90++). This is more than 50% OFF usual prices.
Choose from TWO flavourful soup bases (worth min $20) and a choice of fresh meat (worth min $12) from their curated selection.
The set menu also comes with a vegetable-mushroom platter and side dishes.
For limited time only. Reserve at 91707272.
Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hotpot
269 / 271 New Bridge Road, Singapore 088747 (Less than 5-minute walk from Chinatown MRT Exit A)
Tel: +65 9170 7272
Opening Hours: 11am – 12am (Mon – Sun)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hotpot.