Food

Fresh, down-to-earth and flavour­ful. Pu­tien serves dishes prepared from the heart with traces of home and her­itage that linger in ev­ery com­fort­ing mouth­ful, as savoured

Malaysia Tatler - - CONTENTS - by Rachel Ng

An ori­en­tal ex­pe­ri­ence that will leave you in a won­ton won­der­land; the must­try eater­ies in Ma­rina Bay Sands; and an in­ter­view with the Pong sis­ters

En­ter­ing the airy in­te­rior of Pu­tien feels like a grand home­com­ing. Greeted by the dul­cet tones of Erhu mu­sic play­ing over the speak­ers, we are warmly wel­comed and ush­ered into a golden wood and teal dec­o­rated in­te­rior to await our food while sip­ping chilled chrysan­the­mum tea in the mean­time. Then comes the food; first up from the se­nior mas­ter chef Lu­cas Lee’s kitchen is the Pu­tien style ‘Bian Rou’ soup with vine­gar. Flower-like pork won­tons swim in a clear soup gen­er­ously gar­nished with spring onions. The won­ton maker here has an in­ter­est­ing story, as the art of mak­ing the won­ton wrap­pers is al­most a lost one—so much so that China has awarded the mas­ter chef who makes th­ese wrap­pers, and he has also been com­mis­sioned by Pu­tien till he turns 100 to only pro­duce th­ese spe­cial won­ton wrap­pers for them. Each de­li­ciously springy won­ton skin is made up of pork loin painstak­ingly pounded and rolled by hand for three hours to sheet-like per­fec­tion with a translu­cence that no nor­mal flour-based dumpling skin can ever hope to achieve. The ini­tial sip comes as a bit of a sur­prise, the taste of the vine­gar re­fresh­ingly tangy, in­stead of sour, com­ple­ment­ing the rich­ness of the pork won­tons. As pork might taste too heavy on the palate af­ter a while, the ‘clean­ness’ of the soup per­fectly bal­ances out the rest of the savoury mouth­fuls. The sec­ond dish is Pu­tien’s one Miche­lin­star win­ning, fried Heng Hwa bee hoon. Silky strands of sun-dried ver­mi­celli lie in a fluffy pile, abun­dantly gar­nished with prawns, veg­eta­bles, fried pork pieces, scal­lions, ground­nuts and crispy sea­weed that still tasted of the sea it came from. Un­like ma­chine-made bee hoon, Pu­tien’s hand milled, man­u­ally-dried-at-the-crack-of-dawn bee

hoon are chewy bun­dles of won­der, es­pe­cially af­ter be­ing in­fused with the full flavoured stock of pork bones and chicken that has been sim­mered for hours. Yams are usu­ally not the star of the show but Pu­tien’s stir-fried yams are sim­ply yam-my. A spe­cial mix­ture of sugar and fish sauce, trans­forms the yam cubes into heav­enly morsels of crunchy good­ness. The crunch from the carameli­sa­tion on the out­side is a good con­trast to the soft in­te­rior of the yam cubes. As proof that Pu­tien serves only the best to their cus­tomers, they only use the mid­dle of their pre­mium yams, the most ten­der and sweet­est part of the tu­ber. The next dish is one that could prob­a­bly con­vert a car­ni­vore into a veg­e­tar­ian. The restau­rant’s spinach in supreme stock is an up­grade from the com­mon spinach with salted- and cen­tury egg serv­ing. The chef el­e­vated the dish to such lip-smack­ing heights that one might se­ri­ously con­sider go­ing green if only for this dish alone. Ten­der spinach shoots were first stir-fried on high heat to lock in the fresh flavours of the greens be­fore

The won­ton maker here has an in­ter­est­ing story, as the art of mak­ing the won­ton wrap­pers is al­most a lost one

be­ing stewed in a rich supreme-stock mix of cen­tury and salted egg. And Pu­tien doesn’t skimp on the egg ei­ther. Af­ter all the lus­cious flavours danc­ing on our palate, Pu­tien’s fi­nal dish, a herbal lo­quat dessert had us beg­ging our stom­achs to make way for it. The chilled Pu­tian lo­quat in herbal jelly had sum­mery, honey sweet lo­quat, a Pu­tian sta­ple, boiled with tra­di­tional Chi­nese herbs for a light tast­ing jelly that’s not only amaz­ing taste-wise but nu­tri­tious too. As it wasn’t the right time, we weren’t able to en­joy a sea­sonal favourite—the yellow croaker fish. A must-try would be their ‘100-sec­ond’ stewed yellow croaker. Stewed in gin­ger for pre­cisely 100 sec­onds, the flesh of the yellow croaker is at its op­ti­mum level of fresh­ness and juici­ness for its sub­tle flavours to truly rise to the fore­front. Pu­tien suc­ceeds at re­tain­ing the essence and phi­los­o­phy of Pu­tian cui­sine and it re­ally brings depth into each metic­u­lously prepared dish. Pre­ci­sion, skill and a pas­sion for pro­duc­ing only the best is what truly makes their cui­sine shine.

Op­po­site page: Pu­tien’s coastal in­spired fried Heng Hwa bee hoon. This one Miche­lin-star win­ning dish pulls you in with its belly-warm­ing combo of salty sea flavours and crisp veg­gies all topped off with the earthy crunch of peanuts COASTAL COM­FORT

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