Located along the shop-houses near City Square Mall, Putien @ 127 Kitchener Road was recently awarded a 1 Star by the Michelin guide. Putien is known for serving cuisine of the Heng Hwa people, one of the smaller Chinese dialect groups. Admittedly, I have never heard of the Heng Hwa dialect before searching for this restaurant, but you learn something new everyday I guess.
Menu and Dishes
The full menu (with the exception of beverages, for some reason. If any Putien employee sees this maybe you can change that :P) can be found here, but I will only be reviewing the OCBC exclusive set for 2 ($48++), along with some other menu items.
The set comes with:
PUTIEN Style “Bian Rou” Soup with Vinegar
Deep Fried Tenggiri Fish
Choice of 1 Main Course (I chose PUTIEN Lor Mee, as recommended by the server)
Dessert of the Day
Complimentary Fruit Platter
This appetiser isn’t actually part of the starters platter, and are separately charged from the set. On the left are pickled vegetables and on the right roasted peanuts with seaweed.
The pickles have a muted pickled flavour and were likely lightly roasted, bringing a savoury taste to accompany the firm texture of the vegetables. It definitely felt very nice to bite into with the slight crunch, and doesn’t feel cloying. I rather liked this because the sour flavour isnt as strong as you would expect a pickle to have. This appetiser actually has similar themes to what I will taste in the rest of the meal in having light but firm flavours. Even if you don’t like pickles in general, you should give this a try.
The simple roasted peanuts with crunchy seaweed are nice to bite on, but nothing exceptional really stands out.
This is the starters platter that is given for the set, which is different from the one listed in the menu, since it is missing the Ah Yuan Fragrant Herbal Chicken and Iced Bitter Gourd. The Bean Curd (we all know its tofu) is nicely braised and fragrant. I actually had no idea whether I should eat the pork belly and cucumber separately, so I followed my instincts and wrapped 1 pork belly around the cucumber, which I believe was the correct choice. Both dishes are room temperature cold and do not have very strong flavours, but served to whet my appetite. And it did. Although, if given ala carte, I’ll probably skip this.
The Bian Rou (flat meat…?) and soup have an accented vinegar profile. When serving this dish the server said that vinegar has been added already, although she wasn’t clear in whether we had that option in the first place. White pepper is given on the side. I’m not a fan of the vinegar personally, so the soup wasn’t to my liking. Bian Rou wonton itself has a unique sour salty flavour. The taste is memorable, but again, not a fan of sour tastes.
Honestly, this dish feels like the biggest disappointment in the set. The fish is nicely lightly fried and all, and it goes well with the given sauce and Grandma’s Chilli sauce, but its just normal fried fish done well. Or maybe I just had too much expectations after the unique flavours previous dishes brought to the table.
Grandma Chilli Sauce
Has a very fresh and sweet taste, but surprisingly very spicy. If it weren’t that spicy I would like to eat more, but I’m not for sweating just to eat food. I used this to accompany the fish, which I find worked quite well since the fish felt very normal. Apparently reading other reviews and blog posts you were supposed to accompany this with the Lor Mee… which I didn’t.
First thing that comes to your mind when you see the picture would be, “That’s not Lor Mee! It’s freaking white!” But no, this is a different kind of Lor Mee that the Heng Hwa serve. Easily the best dish of the set. The Sous Chef that came to the table said that people come to PUTIEN to eat this, and I can definitely see why. According to him, the broth is cooked for at least 8 hours to soak in the flavour (if my memory and translation were right). The Lor Mee itself is a complete meal, with vegetables, mushrooms, pork belly slices, tau pok, prawns and clams inside. Broth has a deep but not cloying seafood flavor and goes well with the slightly soft noodles. Not telling you how to eat your food, but whatever you bite into definitely slurp some of the broth with it; it makes it so so good. And as I said, I didn’t add the chilli sauce, but I don’t think that it is required at all.
If I ever eat at another Heng Hwa restaurant/hawker or come back again, I’ll definitely eat Heng Hwa Lor Mee again.
So this one came as a surprise, since the Sous Chef decided to just suddenly check on the customers. Very friendly dude, and this came complementary
to bribe us to come again. Also known as Lizhi (lychee) Rou, this is basically the Heng Hwa version of sweet and sour pork. Those white bulbs you see on the plate are Lychees! If you’re dumb like me you might have thought those were garlic.
The dish itself doesn’t have harmonious flavour like the PUTIEN Lor Mee, in that each ingredient itself contributes a little part to the overall dish. If the Putien Lor Mee is a choir, Lizhi Rou is a pop-star with unnamed musicians doing the background music. The focus is on the meat, lightly crisp on the outside and pillow-soft on the inside. When I bit into the meat I actually thought it was fat due to how soft it was, but biting half reveals the inside to be tender meat. The “unnamed musicians” in this dish are the lychees, tomatoes, cucumer and onions, but you won’t be missing anything by not eating the the meat together with them. This is another dish I would like to eat again.
Eh it’s just fruits.
The name says Ginkgo NutS, but there’s only one nut 🙁
This desert isn’t overly sweet or empowering, which is a good end to the non-empowering flavours that the meal has. Though, if I were to judge the desert by itself it’s nothing special, and the coconut milk feels overly light.
Pretty refreshing soursop juice that isn’t as sour as I thought.
It looked more like a vegetable concoction, but it tasted fruity and sweet with some hints of veggie goodness. A beverage I don’t mind drinking again.
Should you eat at Putien?
Should try, if you got the budget for it… The restaurant is definitely on the expensive side, but this place ain’t got its Michelin Star for no reason. And well, if you want to try PUTIEN food at a lower cost, the promotion page on PUTIEN has some deals that applies only to some outlets. But I haven’t tried those, so no guarantees on whether the food quality stays the same on all branches ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Only when writing this review did I realise how ill-prepared I was for visiting Putien. There’s some other dishes that definitely looks like they are something that you should try. I’m kind of disappointed at the set, but not the restaurant, because of that. If the other dishes can deliver the standard that the Lor Mee did, it definitely makes the restaurant worth going again.
Google maps so you don’t get deceived by the 1st picture that it’s in a mall. It’s actually located along a street.