Putian is a city in southeast Fujian province, and even in China few people are aware of its cuisine, which is characterized by its unique flavor and seafood ingredients.
Thanks to one man's efforts in founding a Putien Restaurant chain, the city's cuisine, also known as Heng Hwa cuisine, has become better known in Singapore and surrounding areas as well as in Chinese cities.
"I just want to present diners the best Putian cuisine with prices that are acceptable to most people," said Fong Chi Chung, the owner of Pu Tien Holdings Pte Ltd, the parent company behind the restaurant chain.
In June, the restaurant chain opened its first branch on the Chinese mainland in a department store called The Place in the Hongqiao area of Shanghai, following three branch openings in Hong Kong.
Fong said it is his love for Putian cuisine, perseverance and commitment that led him to where he is now.
Born in 1968 in Putian, Fong moved to Singapore with his family in 2000, but he felt homesick for Putian's flavorsome food and found nowhere to satisfy his craving.
This led him to open the first Putien Restaurant on Kitchener Road, Jalan Besar, in Singapore.
Adhering to the principle of providing authentic Putian flavors with the freshest ingredients, the restaurant soon had an impact on the dining market.
"Our restaurants aim to provide a cost-worthy place for people to have a good time with family and friends," Fong said, adding that most of the restaurants are about 300 to 400 square meters and can serve 160 diners in one sitting. The restaurant chain has 10 branches in Singapore, three in Malaysia, one in Indonesia, four in Hong Kong and two in Shanghai. By the end of 2015 Putien will have 26 outlets worldwide.
The restaurant chain aims to open restaurants in the four major cities on the Chinese mainland-Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen within four years according to Fong. Apart from strict principles on ingredient sourcing and service requirements, the main dynamics behind the restaurant chain's fast development are transparent finances, promotion of teamwork and sharing, as well as hiring local managers and operating internationally,said Fong.
When operating outside Singapore, the restaurants also bring locals signature Singapore dishes, such as black pepper crab, which have also proved popular among diners.
The restaurant insists on using only fresh ingredients and not compromising on preparation methods, even if at times it is more laborious, but that's what makes Putien unique, said Fong.
For example, at Putien, we only use handmade Bee Hoon that are sourced from Fujian, and painstakingly dried under the sun, rather than by machine. Although manually drying the Bee Hoon takes longer, this slower process gives it a more springy texture. This persistence in using the best ingredients is what makes our customers come back time and again to eat our Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon.
The restaurant was listed as a 2016 Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide-Bib Gourmand restaurant, which honors restaurants with exceptional food at moderate prices.
The first Putien Restaurant opened in China in Shanghai's Hongqiao area in June. Photos provided to China Daily
(China Daily 11/07/2015 page7)