Chuan Hung’s name is beautifully straightforward belying the respect, thought and care that was put into it, much like its offerings. Chuan Hung or ‘Sichuan Alley’ focuses wholeheartedly on one particular Sichuan ingredient known as Mian Yang rice noodles. At Chuan Hung Singapore, these noodles are served the way they have always been for millennia: with a choice of different broths, and a variety of toppings such as braised beef and pig intestines.
These noodles have been a part of the Chinese culinary lexicon for as long as the Chinese food historians can remember. Named after their city of origin – Mian Yang the second-biggest city in Sichuan, these thin slippery rice noodles hold a special place in the hearts of Chinese food lovers, particularly the Sichuanese who eat it all year-round, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Apocryphal stories abound: one such revolves around Liu Bei, ruler of Shu, in the time of the Three Kingdoms. About 1800 years ago, Liu Bei met Liu Zhang, governor of the Yi Province, in what is now the city of Mian Yang. In welcome, Liu Zhang offered the culinary services of a housewife who was particularly renowned in the city for her cooking. The bowls of thin Mianyang rice noodles in spicy broth revived the exhausted Liu Bei and his troops and moved him so deeply that he was inspired to high praise – “富哉,今日之乐乎,美味也!” – which translates somewhat roughly to “How lucky, this is a good day – I’ve tasted something delicious!”
Now, in Chuan Hung, Singapore can transcend time and space, and dine on the noodles that so moved Liu Bei, in the same style that the Sichuanese themselves eat it.
Chuan Hung’s rice noodles are, admittedly, a little more distinctive: they are specially sourced from one particular artisan who lives in a village deep in Sichuan.
Research for months into about 50 different Sichuan noodle shops led the Chuan Hung team to understand that only one particular shop sold the exact type and style of Mian Yang noodles that they wanted to present to Singaporeans – but it took close to a year and dozens of personal trips to the shop in sincere appeal before the owners finally softened and agreed to speak to them.
It took even longer to research and try the different noodles the artisan made: every detail was examined, down to the gauge of the noodles in millimetres. The noodles now served in Chuan Hung are customised for the noodle house and found nowhere else in Singapore or South East Asia.
The noodles may be ordered with the clear or red soups as well as the uniquely Sichuan mix of red and clear. Chuan Hung also offers a third broth option: a deceptively clear soup that is piquantly infused with Sichuan vine pepper; as well as a dry-tossed version.
Those with bigger appetites can feel free to order “add-ons” as extra toppings for the noodles, and a curated selection of small plates – archetypal Sichuan sides such as Fried Crispy Pig Intestines and Braised Eggplant – as accompaniments.
Preparation for Chuan Hung’s menu items are often more complex than they seem, and made with a considered selection of spices and herbs. For example, the pig intestines were braised in a rich liquid that includes star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, Sichuan peppers and peppercorns amongst others.
This grand effort is also put into other details of the menu and the restaurant – from the kitchen team of Sichuanese chefs that are then trained for a year to ensure the flavours are ‘correct’; to hand- grinding the glutinous rice for making the smooth housemade Liang Gao being served for dessert;
to the flavourful special drinks made from scratch; right down to the debossed ends of the customised wooden chopsticks.
The interiors of Chuan Hung is deserving of attention from the diner as well. Located in a side alley just off the far busier main street in much the same way that noodle shops in China have been set up for years, Chuan Hung is a little haven of gently coloured wood, bamboo furnishings and warm lighting.
The small space of half-a-dozen tables – bustling when full, and tranquil when quiet – is inspired by the aforementioned noodle shops though elevated with thoughtful design details to ensure comfort for the guest even at the busiest of times.
So even though Liu Bei might have had to dine out in the open on a mountain-top, we’re a little luckier – we can taste the same Mian Yang rice noodles that so inspired him in the comfort of Chuan Hung.
Address: 51 Telok Ayer St #01-01 | Tel: 9755 1058 | Email: [email protected] | FB: chuanghungnoodle | IG: @chuanhungnoodle | Opening Hours: 10am – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm (Mon – Fri) & 10am – 9pm (Sat & Sun)
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