Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pu Tien: hidden treasure in Kitchener

with Larry, Prof. Horolographer, SJX
Larry suggested we have lunch at one of his favourite restaurants...Pu Tien at Kitchener Road...a veritable temple of Heng Hua cuisine in Singapore. But beware, there is more than one restaurant advertising themselves as Pu Tien...but only one original...at 127 Kitchener Road.

We started with the classic Heng Hwa starter: Steamed cold pork belly with garlic



I found the pork (yes, the white slices are pork belly which is steamed, and chilled) to be very porky tasting/smelling, and the meat a bit rough, fibrous. The sauce was heaven sent...probably because of the garlic...This dish did not get my seal of approval, but it mattered not as the others approved...and Larry just nodded in satisfaction.

The next dish, however got my thumbs up...in fact two...the Pu Tien Century Egg...was...um...special.



It was battered, then deep fried to a crisp exterior, and then smothered with a black, sauce...Yum! The taste of the century egg was very mild, and the crisp exoskeleton provided the mouth with sufficient distraction that at first bite, it is hard to imagine this is century egg. Gone is the typical ammonia smell...however faint (OK, if you are already expecting century egg, you can barely detect a hint of ammonia), and the gorgeous creamy interior is very rewarding.

The third hor d'ourve was mini shrimp with seaweed.



This dish provided a smart contrast to the earlier ones. Devoid of any richness, it was mild and tender in its demeanour, and invites a second bite and another. The hint of grassiness of the seaweed counterpointed by the savoury, slightly pungent taste of the mini-shrimps were excellent.

We progressed to what Pu Tien in their menu calls the side dishes...the kai lan with beancurd skin.



Beancurd skin has a special place in my heart...well, beancurd is special to me...especially when it is lovingly hand made, bursting with flavour on the silky smoothness. And hand made beancurd skin...where a huge cauldron of bean curd is heated, and the top most surface, being exposed to cool air, hardens into a springy, elastic skin. As each layer of skin is formed, it is expertly peeled off, and laid to rest, exposing the liquid bean curd to form yet another skin. The skin is treasured for the fragrance, for the springy and elastic texture...and Pu Tien's offering was par excellence. The bean curd skin was very tasty, having absorbed braising liquid from what I would imagine to be a seafood and chicken stock. The kai lan, playing hide and seek below the bean curd skin was expertly fried. Lightly cooked, and still crunchy.

A Heng Hwa wanton soup was next



A light wanton skin protects a bit of pork, shrimp mix to form a delectable wanton. The wanton skin was very soft, and having fully absorbed the soup, was fragile, and tends to break. The soup had a slight tinge of sourness to cut the richness of the broth and the wanton. Excellent to wash the palate to get ready for the two gastronomic highlights to follow...

The deep fried pig's trotters with salt was an experience.



Imagine our excitement when 4 smallish (each the size of my fist) pork trotters were served on a platter...looking deep fried, crisp outer.



Indeed, the proper way to enjoy this delicacy is to get one's hands dirty (indeed Pu Tien provides plastic gloves)...pick up the trotter by the bone, and bite on! Each bite will reveal a very crispy, yet light skin, and as the teeth sink in...a soft, jelly, sticky layer of collagen sends its greetings before finally one tastes the fragrant, savoury meat. Wonderful does not begin to describe the dish. I love it. Siang Hee's ter kar...using a larger part of the pig is super crispy, and flavourful and have its own place in my heart, but this Pu Tien's trotters have a larger share (possibly a larger contribution to the cholestrol...hopefully not...I try and assuange myself that this is not so much fat as there are collagen under the crisp skin).

After that, it is rather difficult to top...but top it they did...with the famous Seafood Mee Sua.



Normally mee sua is bland, and super soft...often tired, and uninspiring. That is why this is common food to nourish the sick body. But this is no ordinary mee sua. This is mee sua which can make hair grow on your chest.

The mee sua is lightly braised in a superior stock slowly, allowing all the wonderful flavours and tastes to infuse within. And then it is lightly fried with fresh seafood...I found prawns, fish, oysters, squid amongst others, and topped with some crispy black seaweed. Pu Tien made its reputation on this dish (and the same dish, but done with bee hoon), and it retains the crown for the best of the best mee sua. I return the week after to sample this very same dish with bee hoon...the bee hoon they used is the thin wiry type from China. For me, the mee sua is the superior dish. The thin bee hoon was less capable to soak up the gorgeous sauce as was the mee sua.

ieatishootipost.sg has also reviewed this restaurant...for Dr. Tay's remarks, go here.


Address:
127 Kitchener Road
Tel: 6295 6358
www.putien.com.sg
Operating Hours:
Lunch: 12pm - 3pm
Dinner: 6pm - 11pm
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