Quick Eats: Putu Piring

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This is the only putu piring place I know that still exists and boy it is still so good. It’d been a while since I passed by the Geylang area and I insisted on trekking out of our way to get here. I was surprised that the Banquet food court had closed and the stall moved to Mr Teh Tarik Eating House up at Onan Road.

They still had the human production line going on as usual. We happily watched them make the outrageously simple delicacy: gula melaka was enclosed in rice flour and steamed for a few minutes, then knocked out of the mould onto shredded coconut and pandan leaves. Three were wrapped in a packet for $1 and deposited into a plastic bag. Watching the four helpers at work was pretty mesmerising.

It’s best to leave the putu piring in the packet for a few minutes so that the pandan fragrance permeates the steam, making it extra nice when you finally get to it. Mine was perfection. The crumb was meltingly soft and the gula melaka oozed out unctuously, making a lovely contrast with the slightly salty coconut. Add the gentle pandan aroma and it was putu piring-gasm for me. If not for the fact that it was dinner time, I would have gone straight for seconds.

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Mr Teh Tarik Eating House
Corner of Onan Road and Changi Road

A Melange of Regional Chinese Cuisine

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Eeyore and I were wandering around the Geylang area for want of anything better to do (!). We were waiting for lunch to be digested before tackling dinner. Eeyore was going to take me to his favourite or luak (oyster omelette) place in Geylang. After taking a long stroll up and down Geylang Road, we stumbled upon the restaurant at 666 Geylang Road that served regional Chinese cuisine. I apologise for not taking down the restaurant name and address. It’s actually on the odd number side of Geylang nearer the MRT track, but I do remember the 666 number. I’m sure you can find it yourself!

Being fresh from my travels in China, I was intrigued by the promise of Hunan cuisine, among others. I miss very much the fiery dish of fermented long beans fried with minced pork. Too bad this place didn’t serve it.

What they did have was che mian (stretched noodles), which is a specialty of Shaanxi province. Typical of food in China, the presentation wasn’t the best. Look at the mess below!

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But when mixed together, the noodles, garlic, chilli, beansprouts, cai xin and vinegar blended together into a sublime whole. The wide noodle (note singular) was very chewy and moreish. It had great mouthfeel and was very satisfying. Our entire bowl was filled with just one noodle. Eeyore was under strict instructions to find the end and failing that, to count the number of ends there were. We had a lively, though extremely geeky, discussion about the number of ends produced with each bite and whether it was an arithmetic or geometric progression.

Here I am showing off the noodle!

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We had the kou shui ji (literally: saliva chicken) as a cold dish. The name is so because it’s so tasty people start to salivate immediately. This dish was a pretty watered down version of the fiery Sichuan original. It’s a basic but very tasty dish of plain boiled chicken dressed with soy sauce and chilli oil. Here, it was decent if you’re far away from Sichuan and have no idea what to expect. Only one way to put it: for the chilli-wimps.

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Another dish we had was the zi ran mutton. Fatty strips of mutton were fried with chilli, leek and lots of fennel. It gave a Central Asian touch and was utterly delicious. I particularly enjoyed the bursts of fennel exploding on the palate. Again, it wasn’t as good as the ones I’ve had in China, but it’ll do.

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Before you run out to this place, ask yourself if you’re squeamish. I found a little extra in our fried vegetables towards the end of the meal. I’m not sure whether that was a good or bad thing. No, we didn’t see the point of complaining as the place felt like a little slice of China and no, we weren’t sick after that.

Verdict? Eat at your own risk. The che mian is fantastic and the food is reasonably priced ($28 for two meat dishes, one vegetable dish and one noodle).