My dad and I are both Heng Hua from Putien. The Heng Hua diaspora is one of the smallest groups in Malaysia. I thought it’ll be a great idea to bring him for dinner at PUTIEN, Kitchener Road. PUTIEN serves authentic Heng Hua cuisine. They have many branches in Singapore and Malaysia but only the original Kitchener Road one has a Michelin star. I’ve met many people who swear by the food here and it’s the only PUTIEN they’ll eat at.
I asked my sister to call them coz they only accept phone reservations but for some reason they didn’t have my name on the ledger when we arrived. Luckily, we were able to share a table with another duo. The Kitchener Road outlet is exceedingly packed – I saw a guy trying to secure a 30 min slot via walk-in. He claims he’ll be able to finish eating and be out within half an hour!
I ordered a few of their signature dishes to try. PUTIEN furnished us with complimentary pomelo from Putien in China as an appetizer. It was pink and sweet with very little bitter notes. I also like the attention to detail – they served it on a bed of shaved ice.
PUTIEN Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychees (SGD 13.90 for small) is their flagship and it tastes amazing! I love sweet & sour pork but a lot of the dishes in zi char restaurants are done as a mere afterthought with not much attention paid to it. It has become a pedestrian dish but PUTIEN’s version has a crispy exterior wrapping tender whole pork chunks with a delicately sweet sauce. It’s well balanced and very moreish. 10/10! It’s the best version of sweet and sour pork I’ve ever eaten. I love the lychees too. Yum.
PUTIEN Bian Rou Soup (SGD 4.80/pax) is something my hometown of Sibu is famous for as well. It’s minced pork in a wrapper but PUTIEN does a higher end version of it. The pork is chilled, never frozen, and pounded using a mallet instead of a chopped with a cleaver. The wrapper they use is gossamer thin and delicate. It’s very good! It tastes like the ones we get in Sibu but a lot more sophisticated – better rice wine, higher quality vinegar etc.
Homemade Bean Curd (SGD 10.90 for small) was my dad’s selection. He loves tofu and he’s a bit of a tofu connoisseur. It’s something he always orders when we have dinner, so I’ve also eaten a lot of tofu by proxy. This is very exquisite – soft, yet firm tofu with a nice textured “crust”, an intricate silken sauce and well-balanced flavors. It tastes like one of my dad’s favorites from Rejang Park in Sibu but superior in execution. Delicious.
“100-second” Stewed Yellow Croaker (SGD 13.80) is another one of their famed dishes. It’s a type of fish found in Putien that has been steamed for just 100 seconds in a claypot. Unfortunately, this fish has a lot of bones. By a lot, I mean every single minute piece has 100 bones inside. You’ll probably not enjoy this if you don’t like bones in fish. Neither my dad nor I liked this, which wasn’t really helped by the lack of flavor.
Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon (SGD 9.80 for small) is a must order here. This is a Chinese National Intangible Cultural Heritage item and the noodles are milled by hand in Putien. There’s quite a lot of seafood under the dish – clams, prawns etc. The noodles are nicely textural with a bit of a bite and there’s a lot of smokiness. Lots of wok hei. It goes very well with their sweet and sour lychee pork.
You must add the PUTIEN Spice Mum Chilli Sauce to the bee hoon to kick it up a notch. Their chilli sauce is excellent! Spicy, acidic and appetizing. I even bought a bottle to bring back home. It usually retails for SGD 6.80 but they had SGD 1.80/bottle promotion as part of their 18th anniversary celebrations.
The cashier gave me a pair of PUTIEN branded chopsticks as a free gift when I paid the bill! I thought that was cool. I love food related souvenirs.
PUTIEN Kitchener Road has very attentive service. I told our waitress I’ll serve myself coz I wanted to take photos first. The waitress noticed I wasn’t using the bowls they provided for the 100-second croaker and told us it tastes better with the soup and served us when she saw I was done with my pictures. The food was also delicious! It tastes super familiar to us, which means the food in Sibu is authentic Heng Hua too, despite being away for several generations. Everything tastes like home but better executed! The bill came up to just SGD 67 (RM 200) which is very reasonable! Recommended!