Monday, November 11, 2013

Ivy's Hainanese Mutton Soup - A Real Love Story

You would think Ivy is the main cook and owner of this traditional Hainanese mutton soup stall, and you would be wrong.

It's the husband that runs the joint, and despite being Hainanese, he has not known or cooked mutton soup until recently. And you wanna know why?

That's because Mr Ng wanted to do something special for his then girlfriend, who absolutely adores this dish.

It was just the spark that inspired him to try his hand in the kitchen to replicate this dish. Needless to say, he succeeded in not only satisfying his future wife's appetite, he also ended up marrying her.

To our great privilege, we are now privy to this same dish that impressed Ivy that he has named his stall after her. Mr Ng is clearly a man after my own heart, for I will surely name my restaurant (if ever there is one) after Pauline as well.

Mr Ng

Now, normally I am not a big fan of mutton, or lamb that is too gamey. Mr Ng, however, takes great care in removing that strong odour by marinating the mutton cuts in nam yue (fermented red bean curd) and searing them in hot oil and thus, very little of the gamey smell is left.

You can get either mutton or mutton tendon soups here, and let me just say now, both are outstanding. Mr Ng takes great effort in boosting up the flavors in the broth that takes hours to brew and the result clearly reflects all the extra labor in making the stock.

Herbal Mutton Soup

The first thing that struck me was how subtle the herbal flavors were in this tantalizing bowl. It was not too harsh like some others, and yet it was distinct and packed enough herbal oomph just to provide that tinge of sharpness to cut through the flavors of the mutton.

The meat itself was beautifully cooked, tender and not overly chewy. The marinate of nam yu clearly had an influence on the flavorsome protein, and infused with the slightly sweet broth, it was just an utter delight.

The portion was also incredibly generous, though it is priced slightly on the high side but personally, I think it is the quality and the value that takes precedent. And at Ivy's, it is definitely worth your money for the value on offer here.

Lightly garnished with some greens, the visual presentation of the mutton and the somewhat cloudy soup reflected a well made dish that has clearly stuck to tradition. And this coming from a relatively young man is commendable.

Thanks to yummicraft's recent panchanct for classic Hainanese food, this is a surprisingly wonderful discovery. What is perhaps, more surprising and even more wonderful, is the story behind the inception of this herbal mutton soup stall.

A man making his wife's favorite dish and making a business out of it, and we get to savor it. A love story all around. Well, I am in love with the herbal mutton soup now. So there.

Ivy's Hainanese Mutton Soup
#01-16
Block 22, Toa Payoh Lorong 7
Kim Keat Palm Market and Food Centre

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