Ground floor Promenade,
1-Utama Shopping Centre
47800 Petaling Jaya,
PUTIAN is a coastal city in Fujian Province in China, which faces Taiwan across the sea to the east, and borders Fuzhou in the north. Many of the [mappress mapid=”383″]immigrants to Malaya were from this province, and the Heng Hwa people brought with them their cuisine.
If you were to go to Sitiawan, Air Tawar and Lumut in Perak, to Sibu in Sarawak and elsewhere in Malaysia, you would find that the forefathers of the Heng Hwa people there came from Putian, and if you are curious as to what their cuisine is like, just drop in at the Putien restaurant in 1-Utama in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
At a glance, one would say the food seems a little refined and less hearty than expected but I’m not complaining. Red rice wine and the red wine mash so synonymous with Fuzhou food appear in a few dishes here, and seafood figure prominently in the menu.
There’s no shortage of pork dishes either, so you’ll find items like Deepfried Pig’s Trotter with salt and pepper on the menu and Pork Belly with Garlic (an appetiser), among other things. Both seem to be a hit with diners here.
It was still Chinese New Year when we went there, so we avoided these rich meaty dishes and plumped for “simple” ones like Braised Bamboo Shoots, Shredded Meat with Buns, Fermented Red Rice Wine Fish and Fried Heng Hwa Beehoon.
The Braised Bamboo Shoots looked dark and dry but they were crunchy and tasted good. The Shredded Meat with Bun seemed so simple, but there was a heap of pork strips and onions drenched in a sweet sauce on the long plate, together with sesame-crusted buns. Together they made scrumptious bites – the crispy bun sinking into the flavourful pork and onions.
I could eat a whole plate of these with two buns and make a meal of them.
In the Fermented Red Rice Wine Fish, there were fish slices coated with batter, deepfried and finished with a sauce cooked with red rice wine mash. The sauce tasted as if some nam yue (fermented beancurd) had been added to it. I liked the flavours, but the texture of the fish would have been better had a thinner batter been used.
The Fried Heng Hwa Beehoon hit the spot with us on every count. I loved the superfine rice noodles that didn’t clump together on frying and picked up all the essence of the stock it had been doused with. According to the menu, the beehoon is made in Putian with hand-milled old rice grains, hence the fine texture that’s a little chewy but not brittle.
The stock is steeped for hours with 10 ingredients, the main ones being pork bones and old hens. There are peanuts, prawns, lala, cabbage and Chinese celery in the noodles, which we all thought delicious.
On another trip to Putien within the week, we tried the Stewed Sweet Potato Noodles. They were done in a similiar style, except these were more soupy and the silky smooth almost transparent flat noodles completely soaked in the flavours of the stock. There were different vegetables in it, including siu pak choy and mushrooms.
It seems like Putien can’t put a foot wrong when it comes to noodles; I would like to try their special mee sua and lor meen next.
We couldn’t resist ordering the Iced Bittergourd that kept being whisked past us the first time we ate at Putien. The bittergourd is sliced finely, made crisp in ice water, and they curl up prettily like petals of lotus flower on the plate. It is served with some shaved ice and honey.
These crunchy bittergourd slices are refreshing, lightly dipped in honey. You’ll find you won’t mind the slight bitterness at all. I’d say it’s a nice way to eat bittergourd, which detoxifies and helps lowers your blood sugar.
We also ordered what the menu said was Drunken Cockles, but in fact the cockles were blanched, then topped generously with with chopped garlic and chilli in a sweet-and-sour sauce with lime juice. If there was wine in it, I didn’t taste any of it, which was just as well as the wine would have been overpowered by the garlic.
Now the Claypot Chicken in Fermented Red Rice Wine was enjoyable. There were crunchy pieces of wood ear fungus in it, and the rice wine sauce was thick and complex, a little on the sweet side, and had lovely, “winey” aromas.
Putien does a great hot yam dessert or Or Nee, which has lard in it (as it should!). While Lemongrass Jelly is not a Putien dessert, it is done well here, and offers a light, refreshing end to a meal here.
On my next trip, I’ll focus on the soups, like their Claypot Fish Soup which has a deepfried fish simmered with yam and other ingredients, Seaweed with Crabmeat and Beancurd Thick Soup, Pork Belly Garlic and the Deepfried Yam with Duck.
The noodles are priced from RM14.90, the Rice Wine Fish is RM18.90, Bamboo Shoots RM8.90 and Ice Bittergourd RM6.90, Shredded Meat with Bun RM11.80. The Lemongrass Jelly is RM5.90n and the Hot Yam RM6.90.