Thursday, June 11, 2015

JuChunYuan at Far East Square 130 Amoy Street #01-01 - Dim Sum Buffet to celebrate Grace Birthday (Part I)

The Occasion - Grace's Birthday Celebration on the 7 June 2015

The Restaurant - JuChunYuan located at Far East Square, 130 Amoy Street, #01-01.
About JuChunYuan 
JuChunYuan is a joint venture between Far East Organization & JuChunYuan Fuzhou. 
JuChunYuan is the only restaurant in Singapore to exclusively serve traditional authentic original Min cuisine. JuChunYuan carries the legacy of the 100 year-old JuChunYuan Fuzhou restaurant, a name synonymous with authentic fine Min cuisine since 1865. 
JuChunYuan is the first JuChunYuan branch, and the only one outside of China. 
The opening of JuChunYuan has helped to enrich Singapore's culinary scene by adding Min cuisine to the international food map of Singapore. 
JuChunYuan is located in Far East Square at 130 Amoy Street, which comes with an equally rich heritage.  
The 61 shophouses that made up most of Far East Square date back 170 years when Telok Ayer Street was a landing site for Chinese immigrants arriving in Singapore by boat. 

Far East Square was the focal point for all kinds of trades, food and cultural activities of Singapore Chinese immigrants, most of whom were from the Min (another name for Fujian ) region. 
JuChunYuan is housed in the building of the former Chui Eng Free School, established in 1854, and one of the first Chinese free schools to provide free education to the poor. 
Diners at JuChunYuan can experience a slice of Min culture and history, in a setting permeating with the history of Singapore Min immigrants. 

JuChunYuan is a restaurant serving authentic Min cuisine.

The Beginnings 
8 principal schools of Chinese cuisine includes - Lu (Shandong), Chuan (Sichuan), Yue (Guangdong), Min (Fujian), Su (Jiangsu), Zhe (Zhejiang), Xiang (Hunan) & Hui (Anhui). Each has its own unique specialities & flavors.
Min cuisine - originated mainly from Fuzhou, Chuanzhou and Xiamen in Fujian Province. Those from Fuzhou has the most influences, & are more famous & representative. When you are in Fuzhou the place to go for authentic Min cuisine is JuChunYuan Restaurant. 

SanYouZhai - Back in 1865, SanYouZhai was a restaurant founded by three partners & had government officials and wealthy merchants as its regular patrons. It quickly became the largest popular venue for exquisite dining in the city. 

In 1884, Zheng Chun Fa became a partner of SanYouZhai. He was a consummate chef, having made a name for himself whilst being the chief chef for Fujian provincial governor Zhou Lian.

Under the advice of his mentor & employer Ye Yi Nen, Zheng Chun Fa knew SanYouZhai had to differentiate itself by offering specialty quality cuisine to be successful. So he positioned SanYouZhai as the goto place for authentic exquisite Min cuisine.
JuChunChaYuan - In 1904, Zheng Chun Fa bought out the partners (with Zhou Lian's assistance) & changed SanYouZhai to JuChunChaYuan (Ju Chun Tea Garden). 
JuChunYuan - In 1905, Zhou Lian graced the restaurant with a couplet: Ju duo guan gai, Chun man hu shang (means The elite gather in great numbers, fills wine vessels). 

Zheng Chun Fa decided to remove “Cha”(means tea) from JuChunChaYuan  & got Zhou Lian to inscribe “JuChunYuan” in Chinese calligraphy. 

Zheng then embossed "JuChunYuan" in gold paint & used it as headboard signage of JuChunYuan. This is how the restaurant got its name. 
JuChunYuan celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1925. Then in 1926 Zheng Chun Fa, 70, fell ill & quit the restaurant. He subsequently passed away in 1930 at age 75. 

The Successor - Zheng's assistant & successor Deng Shi Duan (1878 – 1962), from Fuzhou, roped in two new partners, Yang Guan Fu & Chen Shui Mei. 

Repositioning - In late 1920s, China was in the midst of a civil war. The economy went downhill & JuChunYuan suffered badly. To survive, Deng Shi Duan repositioned JuChunYuan as casual dining restaurant to attract more diners with a more affordable pricing menu. 

13 member partnership - The Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937 & cause a toil on the straddling JuChunYuan. The 3 key partners sought financial help from 10 other newcomers, resulting in a 13-member partnership where the 10 new partners took over the management of the restaurant for 10 years. 

When the lease expired in 1948, Deng Shi Duan & his two partners could not regain full ownership of JuChunYuan until after the liberation of Fuzhou in 1949. 

Public ownership - After Communist takeover of China in 1949, Fuzhou Municipal Government bought over JuChunYuan for 4000 silver dollars & JuChunYuan became publicly owned by the people. 

From 1950 to 1952, JuChunYuan came under the jurisdiction of the Management Division of the Fuzhou Municipal People's Government. By end 1952, the Fuzhou Municipal Retail Company took control. Then in March 1956, JuChunYuan came under the jurisdiction of the Fuzhou Municipal Food and Beverage Company. 

The Min Cuisine 
For more than a century, JuChunYuan has amazed gourmets with its bountiful spread of authentic traditional Min dishes. Min cuisine uses seafood as its core ingredients, is characterized by its emphasis on sweet, sour and salty flavours, aroma, visual appeal and taste. 

The Uniqueness of JuChunYuan
To make Min cuisine the core specialty cuisine featured at SanYouZhai, Zheng Chun Fa uses stock instead of water for those dishes that required water in the cooking process in order to enhance the flavor of the dish. 
In his pursuit of using stock as a taste enhancer Zheng Chun Fa perfected the recipes and techniques for making “superior stock”, “clear stock”, “chicken stock”, “premium stock” and “milky stock” for different applications. 
The practice at JuChunYuan of presenting dishes with enhanced flavours by using meticulously prepared stock has diners giving it a name - “gongfu dishes”. 

The most notable & famous accomplishment of Zheng Chun Fa & successive generations of JuChunYuan chefs was their perfection of Fo Tiao Qiang (Buddha Jumps Over The Wall), which became so famous that no visitor would regard their trip to Fuzhou complete without eating at JuChunYuan.     

The Ambience 
Here at Ju Chun Yuan, the indoor restaurant decor is Chinese Oriental themed, the wooden oriental chairs with back rest & portable cushion padding seats flank either round table tops or square table tops.  
The wall at the left side of the inner courtyard entrance is a multi-layered rectangular shelving for display of some of the collections of antique pottery items. (*above)

A Sakura design poster 6 metres by 2.5 metres adorned the wall on the left of the entrance door if the inner courtyard. (*above) 

The restaurant flooring is lined with beech color parquet. 

The entrance to the restaurant in the inner courtyard is the original wooden door with colonial design with see through clear glass pieces in mosaic rectangular arrangement. 

The entrance at the outer courtyard retains the original clay tile roofing & oriental design that dates back to 1854, as well as the original concrete wall with carvings, in addition to the original square window partitions. 

Ju Chun Yuan is a part of a conservation project by the government. According to the National Heritage Board plaque below, this restored building where Ju Chun Yuan is sited used to be occupied by Chui Eng Free School (alias Chinese Free School) that was built in 1854, endowed by Tan Kim Seng, a Straits Chinese merchant, meant for the boys in Hokkien Community. The school ceased operations in 1954. 

The building still retains some of the original fixtures including this wooden door that dates back to the 1854's era, long before you & I were even born. 
This is one of the decorative partition oriental windows used in the olden days. 

The signage with Ju Chun Yuan in gold etchings amidst black background sits comfortably atop the concrete outer courtyard entrance. Notice the carvings on the concrete headpost right beneath the signage. 

JuChunYuan is located at  : 
Far East Square, 130 Amoy Street 
#01-01, S(049959)
Tel : 65367022
Opening Hours :
Monday to Sunday 11.30am to 2.30pm 
                                 6.30pm to 9.30pm

River JOrdan and JOrdan being groovy on the disco floor !

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