PUTIEN Kitchener Road (1 Michelin star)

PUTIEN-Michelin-star

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.

PUTIEN-Kitchener-Road

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!

PUTIEN-Pomelo

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

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.

Bian-Rou-Soup

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.

PUTIEN-Homemade-Tofu

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-Croaker

“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.

PUTIEN-Heng-Hwa-Beehoon

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.

PUTIEN-Spice-Mum-Chilli-Sauce

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.

PUTIEN-Chopsticks

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-Us

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!

Tarte by Cheryl Koh (Pastry chef at 2 Michelin star Les Amis)

Tarte-by-Cheryl-Koh

I’m not the type of person that goes gaga over desserts. I am faintly bemused by the parade of unicorn shakes, cheese drinks, bingsu and HK egg waffles that has taken over the minds of the populace by storm. I enjoy desserts, I just don’t normally seek them out. Tarte by Cheryl Koh was an exception. I made a pilgrimage after my Shisen Hanten lunch so I could check them out. Cheryl bakes all of the tart bases here personally!

Tarte-by-Cheryl

Cheryl Koh was awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2016 by S.Pellegrino’s 50 Best list. She’s also the resident pastry chef of 2 Michelin star Les Amis. That’s very impressive credentials and the tarts she serves has an equally impressive price tag. Tarte by Cheryl Koh sells each small tart for SGD 10 (SGD 11 for dine in) which is high even by Singaporean standards. Despite that, I saw a constant stream of people dropping in to takeaway some tarts. I wanted to experience the café so I ordered a latte (around SGD 8) to go with my sweet tart.

Seasonal-Fig-Tart

I asked the girl which tart she thinks is best and she recommended the seasonal fig tart (SGD 11). There are beautiful slices of fresh figs on top of fresh cream and a buttery, crumbly tart base. The flavors go very well together, and they’re accentuated even more by my palate-cleansing latte. Their coffee is by Gryphon Coffee (a small batch roaster) and it’s very tasty! I was also amazed by how delicious the fig tart is. It’s mildly sweet so it’s not cloying. This is perfection in a tart!

Tarte-SG

I also ordered a pistachio tart (SGD 10) to go since I like their takeaway box. There are crumbs of pistachios on top of pistachio cream and their faultless buttery tart base. Delectable! All the tarts at Tarte by Cheryl Koh are newly made. They don’t keep a lot of inventory and there’s a constant stream of freshly baked tarts appearing. It’s a little costly but well worth the money. This is the quintessential representation of a perfect tart. 11/10!

Big Prawn Hor Fun @ Kok Sen Restaurant (Bib Gourmand)

Kok-Sen-Restaurant

Let me share with you one of the best things I’ve eaten this trip. It doesn’t have a Michelin star but it has won the Bib Gourmand award for three years running – ever since the inception of Michelin Guide Singapore. I hesitate to use superlatives but Kok Sen truly is Flavortown! I should add that I came here with a friend after our 1 Michelin star Labyrinth dinner so the review isn’t colored by my hunger. It’s even more impressive considering I was slightly full, or at least, satiated.

Kok-Sen-Singapore

Kok Sen is best described as a zi char restaurant. It has been serving up favorites for over 50 years! There’s no air-conditioning and the place is extremely packed. You’ll need to queue up for a table and tables are shared for parties of less than 4-6. It’s very noisy and slightly uncomfortable but the premises are very clean, especially compared to Malaysian dai chow places.

Kok-Sen-Big-Prawn-Hor-Fun

This is the famous Kok Sen Big Prawn Hor Fun (SGD 18 for small). It’s one of their signature dishes. The thick, sticky sauce is made with peanuts 🥜, sweet chilli sauce 🌶️ and egg 🥚. It tastes like a cross between satay sauce and chilli crab 🦀. The sauce coats the hor fun perfectly. This comes to your table piping hot and it’s best eaten immediately. The dish is topped with 2 big prawns 🦐 sliced into halves that’s cooked to perfection. I don’t know how something can taste so good but this wok hei packed dish is divine!

Kok-Sen

I was lost in the incredible flavors and my tasting notes were reduced to Trump-like simple hyperbole. So prawny! So umami! So salty! So belacan-y! So yums! So much wok hei! So saucy! So so so recommended! I’m lost in Flavortown!! There you have it. All I wanted to do was to shovel more hor fun and sauce into my mouth. I couldn’t get enough! It was a compulsion – my brain was telling me to EAT MORE OF THIS GOODNESS! I wanted to immerse myself and swim in that awesome gravy. I highly recommend Kok Sen. 10/10. You need to come here and try this.

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