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Food Review: Putien, IOI Mall Puchong

Singaporean F&B brand Putien is perhaps the epitome of a ‘success story’. From humble beginnings as a no-frills coffeeshop along Singapore’s Kitchener Road (the outlet now has a Michelin star), the brand has grown into an international chain renowned for its high quality Fujianese cuisine, which draws inspiration from the coastal town of Putian in China, of which the brand is named after. As such, diners can expect many seafood dishes on the menu, as well as specialties such as stir-fried yam and deep fried pork trotters.

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Putien has been in Malaysia for some time now, but I never got the chance to try their food until recently (part of the reason is because the prices are above average. For me, at least :P). But since it was a special occasion, I decided to splurge on a takeaway meal for the fam from their IOI Mall Puchong outlet. PS: The government is allowing dine-in for vaccinated people, so you can choose to do so. On our side, we’re trying to avoid pubilc places as much as possible.

My order was processed very quickly, and they even gave me a nice reusable bag for the takeaway. Food was still warm when I got home!

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I ordered four dishes. The servings were rather small, but since we’re small eaters it was enough for the four of us. The total came up to about RM80++.

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One of their signatures is the Putien Crispy Oyster, and it delivered with aplomb. There was a generous amount of oyster within the fluffy egg and flour batter, and the starch gave the dish a slight chewiness. So what you get is a medley of textures – crispy, fluffy, chewy, juicy. Even eaten without the accompanying chilli sauce, it was good on its own and came packed with flavour.

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I was craving for something chewy, so I ordered the braised pig’s intestine, which are cooked in a 12-spices house sauce for at least 45 minutes. They prepare limited quantities per day. It was decent, but not the best I have ever tasted; the intestines were slightly bitter. Offal is notoriously difficult to get right, though, so I think they still did a good job.

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Braised tofu. This was decent as well, but I wouldn’t say it was special.

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Another signature I ordered was the bian rou (wonton) soup, a Fujianese specialty originating from the Chinese Qin dynasty. Regular wontons are made from wheat flour wrappers, but bian rou’s are made from pork meat. To achieve their delicate, transclucent quality, the meat is continously pounded and rolled for three hours until they become as thin as paper. This gives the wontons a silky quality: think a delicate shawl wrapped around juicy pork meat, immersed in a gentle seaweed soup.

I really enjoyed the dishes from Putien, and wouldn’t mind ordering again since there are many different items I’ve yet to try on the menu. Some interesting ones include Putien Lor Mee (braised noodles), Deep Fried Pork Trotters with Salt & Pepper, Ca Fen (meesua, noodles and bihoon mix), and Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychees.

Putien has nine outlets in Malaysia; 8 are in the Klang Valley with 1 in Penang.

PUTIEN (IOI MALL PUCHONG)

G18A, Ground Floor, IOI Mall,
Jalan Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya,
47170 Puchong,Selangor.
Tel: +603 8080 3348

Things to Look Forward to in Ipoh: Home Cooked Fam Meals

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One of the great things about visiting relatives in Ipoh ? Glorious food. My third aunt, whom I call Sar Kor, is a great chef, and probably the only aunt among my dad’s many sisters to have inherited my late grandmother’s cooking chops. The cuisine is a mix of Hokkien (my great grandparents came to then-Malaya from Fujian province on junk boats in the late 19th century) and Peranakan (Straits Chinese) influences, as my Ah Ma learnt her dishes from a Peranakan neighbour. Simple but hearty comfort food.

A typical home-cooked meal would look like the one above. Blanched vegetables in soy sauce are a must-have for every meal (gotta get them greens in!), while steamed chicken is more of a Hainanese/Cantonese thing (aunt does it really well though. Moist, tender and great when dipped in soy sauce) – but there are also distinctly Hokkien/Peranakan dishes. Sambal petai (stinkbeans in spicy shrimp paste) delivers a hot kick that is addictive with rice, so its worth it to have bad breath for a few hours. Then you have braised pork belly with herbal egg in dark soy sauce, which is kind of like the adobo of the Hokkien world. The way Sar Kor makes it, the belly is so soft and tender with the right amount of lean and fat that it just melts onto your tongue. To wash it all down, a warm hearty bowl of sweet carrot and corn soup with pork.

We’ve been suggesting to her to do one of those home-kitchen thingies (what do you call them, underground kitchens?) where, say, a group of 10 guests come to your home to enjoy excellent home-cooked food. Concepts like these have been picking up lately and you can find homekitchens offering local, Sri Lankan or even Korean fare. We don’t know if she’ll take up the idea, but it would be great if she did, don’t you think? 🙂

 

Travelogue Penang: More Sightseeing in Georgetown – Murals

Graffiti or ‘street art’ used to be looked down upon as mere vandalism in Malaysia, but in recent years, thanks to talented street artists and good promotion, street art has become a strong tourist attraction. Penang, in particular, has embraced this and made it a big selling point. Tourist maps pinpoint the locations of all the murals you can find around Georgetown.

Although it’s a little sad that it took a foreign- born talent to popularise it (even though Malaysia has so many talented artists), we have to thank Lithuanian-born street artist, Ernest Zacharevic, for kicking off the trend at Georgetown Festival 2012, an art fest to celebrate heritage, culture and all-things indie.

His works, which include the very popular ‘Little Children on a Bicycle’ have become a must-snap photo when wandering the streets of the city.

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Ah Quee? on Ah Quee Street depicts the famous and wealthy Chinese merchant Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, who also built iconic historical buildings such as the Peranakan Mansion.There is also a random minion.

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Some of the artworks were not drawn but welded from iron rods, giving them a 3D appearance. Most tell stories of the rich heritage and culture of Penang island.

“Procession”  shows the Grand Float Procession held in 1926 to celebrate the birthday of Tua Pek Kong (A Taoist deity, widely worshiped by Chinese communities in Penang). As it was the Year of the Tiger, effigies of the tiger was carried through the streets.

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The Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple, or Poh Hock Seah, is a clan temple of the Hokkien people who trace their origins to Southern Fujian Province in China and was constructed in 1850. Since Penang’s population is largely Hokkien (which is also a commonly spoken dialect here), this temple would be significant during festivals and holy days.

Coincidentally, there was an exhibition by Obscura Festival, ‘Trading to Extinction” by Patrick Brown, which captured some disturbing and powerful imagery of illegal animal trading and poaching, in the temple’s courtyard.

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A quick break from mural hunting. We stopped by at a corner shop near Armenian Street. Wanted to have cendol, but it was already 4pm and they ran out D: We had ais kacang instead, which was perfect for a hot day. To those who haven’t had it before, it’s basically shaved ice topped condiments such as grass jelly, sago balls, sweet kidney beans, chopped peanuts and drizzled over with syrup, condensed milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). Sounds refreshing? You bet it is.

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Some pretty good fried snacks of crispy popiah, stuffed with grated radish and carrots.

More of Georgetown to come!