The Chinese restaurant impresses us with dishes that are simple, yet each is an experience with its own story
Dining at Putien can feel like the beautiful unravelling of a period drama. The signature dishes come with their own cultural stories, traced to the restaurant’s namesake, a coastal suburb in Fujian.
Blessed with bountiful harvests from land and sea, we were told that modern Putien cuisine carries that same essence of freshness and simplicity in its ingredients of choice. Unpretentiousness aside, we wondered if the dishes would have enough panache to warrant a return visit or more.
A Refreshing Way to Beat the Heatwave
We arrived at Putien with beads of perspiration on our foreheads, and we were thankful to be welcomed by its Summer Relief menu — a selection of ‘cooling’ foods, which supposedly helps to counter the blistering heat.
First, we were served Ice Cucumber Seedlings ($6.90), a simple dish of cucumber seedlings presented on a bed of ice. Contrary to their unassuming appearance, these seedlings were crisp and sweet, and went well with the signature spicy sauce. This could become an addictive healthy snack, I thought.
Next, an arty dish of Iced Bitter Gourd ($5.90) wowed us in the form of a lotus flower, and smartphone cameras were immediately whipped out to snap photos. Each slice of bitter gourd was thin and translucent and when dipped in the accompanying honey, it was a toothsome and refreshing respite from the weather.
Comfort Food to Nourish Your Body
Lest you think it’s all greens at Putien, its menu has other stand-out dishes such as the Putien Heng Hwa Bee Hoon ($8.90, small). According to legend, an old couple hand-dries the bee hoon at the crack of dawn, ensuring that it is fine and chewy but not brittle.
With this tale in mind, we tucked into our bee hoon, which was light yet flavourful with the rich stock of pork bones and chicken (mainly using old hens). The fine vermicelli was made scrumptious with a generous portion of prawns, clams and crunchy seaweed, and could easily suffice as a meal on its own.
Other well-executed creations included the Stir Fried Yam ($12.90, small), which was crisp on the surface and fluffy underneath, as well as the Braised Beancurd with Chinese cabbage ($17.90, small) — a nourishing broth flavoured with seasonal clams from Putien.
I enjoyed the Sweet & Sour Pork with Lycées ($12.90) in particular, though some of my companions thought it was rather ordinary. I felt that Putien’s rendition was chewy and not overly saccharine.
Hospitality from the Heart
Overall, we were impressed by the attentive service and how knowledgeable the serving staff were — they gladly regaled us with background stories of the dishes. Our party felt that Putien is a good choice for dining, with its classy interiors and thoughtful dishes.
As for me, you can be sure I’ll be back again.
By Samantha Francis