[Singapore] Heng Hwa-Chinese lunch at Putien, ION Orchard

Putien first opened on Kitchener Road back in 2000. It’s named after the city of Putien (莆田) in eastern Fujian, China, regarded as the hometown of the Heng Hwa people.

Putien achieved overnight success because of their Heng Hwa-style fried bee hoon (fine rice noodles - the finest-textured version we’d ever encountered - stir-fried with strips of pork, golden-fried lardons, clams, roasted groundnuts, seaweed, fresh mustard vegetables & shrimps, all in a delicious, intensely-flavored pork-chicken stock.

Today, the Putien restaurant chain has gone regional, with 14 outlets in Singapore, Malaysia (11 outlets), Hong Kong (9), Shanghai (7), Guangzhou (2), Beijing (5), Shenzhen (4), Hangzhou (1), Jakarta/Indonesia (6), and Taiwan (7).

Putien at ION Orchard #04-12 opened in Aug 2015 - we chose this particular outlet as it was pretty centrally-located at the epicentre of Singapore’s retail district: the confluence of Orchard Road and Scotts Road.

Our lunch spread, besides the must-order Heng Hwa-style fried bee hoon, consisted of:
Deep-fried yellow croaker - the fish fillets were marinated in sea salt and peppercorns for 24 hours, before being crisp-fried upon order.

Braised bitter melon with garlic - this dish looked utterly simple, but packed an umami punch.

Sweet & sour pork with lychees - this reminded me of the signature dish of HK’s 1-Michelin-star Pang’s Kitchen. Unlike the sugar-laden sweet-sour pork dish that one usually finds in Chinatowns in the West, the one here was gently-flavored, showcasing the subtle savouriness of the pork, and with the lychees providing the bursts of sweetness.

Braised beancurd sheets with gai-lan, carrot and babycorn - a vegetarian dish. I found this a bit bland.

Dessert: Selection of taro mooncakes - we were about to ask for the dessert menu when our waitress said she’d like to offer us a selection of mooncakes to try.

Mooncakes are served during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sep 29 (15th Day of the 8th Chinese lunar month) this year. In the old days, the Chinese would start buying mooncakes only on the 1st day of the 8th Chinese lunar month (Sep 15 onwards on the Gregorian calendar). Nowadays, commercial establishments start selling mooncakes even now, during the inauspicious 7th Chinese lunar month, better-known as the Hungry Ghost Month.

We were given two different types of mooncakes to taste - with white taro & salted duck’s egg yolk, and purple taro with salted duck’s egg yolk filling. Both came with a short-crust pastry skin, more akin to Shanghainese mooncakes than the more pervasive Cantonese version that we’re familiar with.
We found both mooncakes to be drier than we’d like.

I still enjoy coming back to Putien every chance I’ve got for their amazing fried Heng Hwa bee hoon - no other noodle dish in any other restaurant comes close to it, IMO.
I’ve yet to find a second-favorite dish here, though.

Putien ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn, #04 -12, Singapore 238801
Tel: +65 6509 4296
Operating hours: 11.30am to 10pm daily