A decade ago, when Putien was an unassuming low-frills restaurant at the fringes of Little India, I would never have thought it would expand to the mega empire it is now. Its brand of humble, peasant fare wasn't exactly a winning formula for success, I thought. Luckily for them, the locals love the simplicity of Heng Hwa cuisine, and their kickass chilli which goes with just about everything. Now with 10 branches scattered all over the island, (and a good number more all over Asia), Putien is a lot more accessible than ever. But, with reports that the mothership is still the best of the lot, we made a trip down for dinner one night, all the while braving the nightmare traffic.
Because Putien is located along a 1-lane, 2-way carriageway, a tip is to make reservations to dine early, or park at City Square Mall, and walk over.
The food was indeed better than at some of the other outlets, but marginally so, and service was frenzied at best. After taking into consideration the horrendous traffic and parking woes, I'd much rather head to the town-based branches.
The Steamed Live Seabass ($39.20 for 800 gm at $4.90 per 100gm) was done perfectly, with soft flaky flesh complemented by the delicate soy sauce.
That wasn't enough fish for us, and we also had the Deep-Fried Tenggiri Fish ($4.90 per pc), beautifully golden and crisp, and served with a piquant dipping sauce.
The Homemade Beancurd ($9.90), with wobbly strips of silky beancurd, black mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and carrots, swimming in a sumptuous oyster sauce gravy, was simple and comforting. A must-try here.
The Putien Sweet & Sour Pork ($13.90), dotted with lychees for a fruity sweetness, was scrumptious.
The Stewed Spinach in Superior Stock ($12.90) flecked with century and salted egg, was mild and creamy.
The Seaweed with Beancurd and Crabmeat Thick Soup ($13.90) was wonderfully nuanced and balanced.
Another must-try, the Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon ($8.90), was infused with a collagen-rich stock of pork bone and old hens' bones, and dappled with clams, prawns, pork belly, beancurd, mushrooms, cabbage, kailan, and seaweed. Scrumptious with oodles of that awesome chilli sauce.
The Mazu Mee Sua ($8.90), done in the style of their lor mee, was simmered in a milky pork bone broth, with pork belly, clams and prawns, eggs, mushrooms, snow peas, seaweed, and peanuts. Having grown up eating mee sua exclusively as 'sick-food', I much rather have the lor mee instead.
127 Kitchener Road
Tel: 6295 6358
Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch; 5.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner