Michelin or no Michelin?

Last December, during my vacation, we decided to check out a couple of eateries that have been awarded the Michelin stars in Singapore. The first to catch our interest is the one-michelin star Putien restaurant at Kitchener Road. For those unfamiliar, the name, Putien, is taken from its namesake coastal city located in the Fujian province, which naturally serves cuisine from that locale. This Singapore-based restaurant not only has many outlets here, it has also expanded regionally. However, only the one at Kitchener road, which is also where it started, is awarded the star. 

We have tried the food at its other outlets, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but never been to the original restaurant. We were curious if it would serve any special items  and if the quality would be a notch better than the other outlets, and so the taste test. 

Braised pork intestines

Marinated seaweed with mini shrimps

Fried pork knuckles

Braised bitter gourd in special sauce

Fried tenggiri fish fillets

Chinese spinach in century egg and salted egg stock

Puréed sweet potato in pumpkin cream

Rice cake stuffed with crushed peanuts

 

Some of the food we had were ordered by my Father-in-law and so there was some focus on pork dishes. Now, I have to admit I didn’t try them as I don’t take pork. But my father in law and husband thought they were pretty tasty. Like the intestines were well prepared with no porky smell, and the pork knuckles were crispy on the outside and moist inside.

The vegetable dishes are also cooked to expectataions, with a good  balance of seasonings and texture. The fried tenggiri fish is one of my favorites, very tasty, not oily, and smells really good.  As for the desserts, I like the sweet potato purée, perhaps because I like creamy texture. But I am not impressed with the rice cake which I found to be a little too chewy and dry. 

All in all, a good lunch. But if you wonder if it is worth going all the way to Kitchener road just because this outlet has a Michelin star, we don’t think so. The food is not significantly better than its sister outlets (we have tried the ones at Parkway Parade, Tampines Mall and VivoCity when it used to have a small eatery at Food Republic foodcourt). In fact, we couldn’t taste any difference. So, we will stick to those outlets convenient for us. Besides, traffic is a little crazy around the Kitchener road area, though valet parking is available if you drive.

From restaurant cuisine, we went to the cheapest Michelin food available in the world: Liao Fan Hong Kong Soy Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. The guide has included street food in its rating. Even though Liao Fan’s fare does not technically considered as street food (since this is not available in Singapore) and it is not a hole in a wall eatery,  it is located in a hawker center where prices are generally low. Specifically, it is located at Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre.

Check out the Michelin award story by the side of the corner stall.

Liao Fan is an unassuming stall. Hanging at the glass display are the beautifully roasted chickens in golden brown color with glistening skin and juicy-looking char Siew. I read that the owner, Chef Chan, only prepare 180 chickens a day to ensure quality of his food. He had also opened a restaurant, after the award, that is located just across the street from the hawker centre. He is mostly based at the restaurant, though he does pop by the hawker stall to check on things, while his wife and an apprentice prepare the food at the original stall. Of course we went for the food here instead of the restaurant. 


    Before coming, we had done some research and read about the horrendously long line. So we decided to be there when it opens at 10.30AM, and hoping the queue was tolerable. But it turned out others had the same idea too. So if you are in the area and want to try the food, look for a long snaking line shown in the picture below. You just have to go to the back of the queue and join the wait.

    There were some people, whom I don’t know if they were acting ignorant or what, tried to place order with the assistant at the stall without joining the queue, but was directed to it. They then turned and walked away. The assistant is pretty diligent in asking only the customer at the head of the line to step forward. 

    Finally, after nearly an hour wait, I managed to place our order and get the food.  We had a plate of roast chicken with rice, a plate with noodle, two vegetable dishes of kailan with oyster sauce and broiled bean sprout. The chicken rice is S$2, the chicken noodle is S$2.50, Kailan at S$3, and bean sprout at S$2. A meal with sufficient food for two persons at less than S$10. I also ordered a takeaway pack with chicken and Char Siew for Buddy.

    To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations of the food  despite it being awarded one Michelin star. Firstly because I had never heard of this place, and I guess I was a little skeptical that it would wow people. Secondly, I am really not a fan of soy sauce chicken. In fact during the queue, I thought to myself, “this has better be damn good for such a long wait!”

    So, how does the chicken taste? Well, I’ve to say, it does deserve the award. It is amazingly moist, the skin has a bit of crisp to it, the soy sauce marinade is not coyingly sweet like what mosr tend to taste, and instead it has a well balanced flavor. The flat rice noodle is tasty, however my husband feels the chicken goes better with the rice. The vegetables are standard fare, but they are not the main cast anyway. My husband loved the chicken so much that he regretted not ordering half a chicken for dinner. 

    By the time we finished the lunch, the line was longer than the one we joined earlier. So we decided to quickly pop over to the restaurant, hoping the queue would be shorter and we could get dinner. But it was wistful thinking that there would be a shorter line there. 

    Is it worth the long wait for the chicken? Yes, it is really very tasty, probably the best chicken rice we ever had. Admittedly the long line can be a dampener, so we haven’t returned for another tasting. But I’m looking out a day when I have time to wait in line.

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