Last Updated: March 11, 2019
When we hear PUTIEN, most of us would associate it with the one-Michelin Star restaurant chain. Due to the lack of Heng Hwa cuisine in Singapore, some may have never heard of Heng Hwa cuisine before PUTIEN was established.
Pu Tian Delights 莆莆田美食 at Alexandra Village Food Centre is definitely a hidden hawker gem that my family frequents. My mom is one of the few in Singapore who belong to the Heng Hwa dialect group, and I have fond memories of my maternal grandmother cooking up a storm every Chinese New Year.
Pu Tian Delights takes up a corner stall at the end of the food centre, easily missed with all the more popular stalls on the other end. But don’t overlook it, because I guarantee you a satisfying meal, with an extensive menu that boasts over 20 dishes.
The Chinese couple who owns the stall is from Shandong and not the Fujian province, where Heng Hwa cuisine originates from. But chef and owner, Mr Wang, informed me that he used to work at the PUTIEN restaurant for over three years. He then made the big decision to start up his own business.
He noticed that there was very little Heng Hwa cuisine in Singapore and the prices are all pretty steep. So, he wanted to provide something that was more affordable for the masses.
I went ahead with my usual orders of the Putian Lor Mee (S$3.50/Small, S$5/Large) and Xing Hwa Bee Hoon (S$3.50/Small, S$5/Large).
The Putian Lor Mee is literally the only rendition of lor mee that I like. This is unlike the typical Hokkien version that is usually served with yellow noodles in a thick, dark starchy gravy.
This version uses silky-smooth white noodles that are like la mian but slightly thicker. The broth was rich and flavourful with an underlying seafood flavour.
Filled with succulent prawns, fresh clams, pork slices, tofu puffs and a variety of vegetables, this makes for a wholesome meal on its own. I really liked the addition of the crispy seaweed and roasted peanuts that contrasted with the chewy noodles. This is really the epitome of a comforting dish.
The Xing Hwa Bee Hoon is another well-executed dish. It has the same ingredients as the Putian Lor Mee but is a dry version with thinner noodles. This is similar to the seafood white bee hoon that has garnered quite a bit of attention in recent years.
I loved how light this dish was, despite the mix of numerous ingredients which still packed a flavourful punch. The clams, in particular, were plump and sweet without any fishy aftertaste.
I did ask Mr Wang about the inconsistency of the noodles, as they sometimes differ from the authentic super fine strands of rice vermicelli that is unique to the Heng Hwa cuisine. He lamented that the original noodles are very difficult to find and import. Sometimes he has no choice but to substitute with alternatives.
In my opinion, these “counterfeit” bee hoon still tasted delectable as a whole. However, for those who are very particular about the authenticity, you might find them a little too coarse and moist for your liking.
We also got the Putian Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychee (S$8/Small, S$12/Large), which is hands-down my favourite dish here.
Sweet and sour pork is one of my favourite zi char dishes, but more often than not, they are too floury or too dense. Pu Tian Delights did it right with the perfect flour-to-meat ratio. The crisp exterior enveloped the tender meat which had a nice bite to it.
The sauce is a perfect combination of sweet and sour. Most places don’t get it right, and it either tastes too tart or too sweet from the tomato sauce. The lychees were juicy, and together with the crunchy vegetables, they made a refreshing accompaniment to the sauce.
We also got the Hot & Spicy Lala (S$8/Small, S$12/Large). They served a generous amount, even though we ordered the smaller portion.
Doused in a savoury sauce, the clams were plump and fresh. It had a slight heat to it, but the spice was very mild. If you are looking for something with a kick, this may disappoint you.
For our choice of vegetables, we ordered Spinach With Salted Egg And Century Egg In Supreme Broth (S$6/Small, S$8/Large).
This dish is not exclusive to the Heng Hwa cuisine, but it’s a delicious choice if you love fresh leafy greens. The broth was fragrant from the generous use of whole garlic cloves.
We also had the Prawn Paste Chicken (S$6/Small, S$8/Large), which was a great choice.
The batter was thin and crispy, revealing the glistening and succulent chicken meat as I bit into it. It definitely tasted as good as it looked, although the prawn paste flavour was very subtle.
The Deep Fried Tenggiri Fish (S$4 for one, S$7 for two) looked rather unassuming when it first arrived. Granted, it’s just ordinary mackerel fish seasoned with salt and deep-fried. While it was not outstanding, it had a very nostalgic and homely feel to it.
The fish meat was flaky, yet moist with a sweet aftertaste. Sometimes, it’s the simplicity of a well-executed dish that counts.
We’ve visited the PUTIEN restaurants a few times and although it’s undeniably good, the prices are on the higher end. When we discovered Pu Tian Delights for the first time, we were impressed with the quality of food and more-than-reasonable prices.
My visits to Pu Tian Delights always leave me feeling full and satisfied. While the food here may not be the most authentic, I can definitely attest to its substantial quality and quantity.
You can’t find affordable Heng Hwa cuisine elsewhere, so do give this place a try if you are around the area. It’ll definitely satisfy your cravings for no-frills yet sumptuous Heng Hwa food!
Expected Damage: S$3.50 – S$9 per pax
Our Rating: 5 / 5
Pu Tian Delights
Block 120, Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-88, Singapore 150120
Block 120, Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-88, Singapore 150120