Putien 莆田 (Hong Kong)

Chinese cuisine, due to the size of the country, varies in tastes and ingredients amongst the regions. Putien showcases dishes from Putian (yes, there’s a vowel difference in the name), a coastal town part of the Fujian province. With its proximity to water, there’s of course a choice of seafood dishes, the menu also incorporates a variety of meat (mainly pork), tofu, and grain offerings as well.

From the picture, I thought the steamed Putien clams with garlic ($99) were razor clams, but they’re actually Duo Tou clams, named after the village they’re raised. The clams are bred in coastal soil that’s rich in nutrients (adding to its flavours) without the gritty sand. Smaller than razor clams (about a third of the size), they’re also meatier and much sweeter. Very tasty. The kitchen smartly purées the garlic so you can taste the ingredient without the harsh bite. Imagine our luck, visiting Hong Kong in April, so we could try them – there are only available from April to August.

Putien’s wonton soup stands out due to the fried garlic used in the broth and a light vinegar note in the background. The wontons were thumbnail-sized and filled with pork and chives, decent but the flavours largely coming from the soup. Just be careful to only order the per person amount ($28 a person). Our waiter insisted we get a small bowl ($79), making it sound like it’s a better deal, but it ended up being way too much for two and would only be suitable for a table of three or four.

While the flavours in the sesame deep fried bao with stir fried shredded pork ($52) were tasty, we had to add a lot of the stuffing to make it taste good as the bao was rather thick. It’s also overly greasy so is best after you blot the wrapper with a napkin.

Aside from the clams, the dish that impressed me the most was the homemade bean curd ($68) … yes, tofu! The centre was silky incorporating a mellow taste that’s almost like steamed eggs. Deep fried and braised, the end product is delicate, barely resisting a spoon, but deliciously flavourful. Overall, the vegetarian dish was tasty, even better if the green beans were cooked a touch longer.

Thankfully, we had the oyster sauce from the tofu as the cabbage rice ($68) was bland and sorely needed it for flavour. While a decent portion, it is nothing like the fragrant concoction my grandmother used to make; we would have been better off with regular steamed rice.

Putien certainly trains their staff to upsell, to the point that it borders on annoying. Indeed, I understand the need to increase bill totals, but when it happens during every step of the ordering process, it can get irritating. For example, they don’t offer wine by the glass, so when my husband switched to beer and me tea ($9 a person regardless of it you have it), our waiter tried to convince me that a bottle, the standard 750ml variety, was small and wouldn’t be too much for us to share. This is on top of a bowl of overly oily seaweed at the table, which is automatically included on the bill ($9).

Regardless, I can live with all the above as I know “sauce” and “tea” charges are common in Hong Kong. Even convincing us to order more soup than necessary can be forgiven. What I was most appalled with was the outright lying for gratuities. At Putien, the bill only arrives in Chinese (despite us requesting English menus). With all these miscellaneous charges, I wasn’t sure if gratuity was already added and didn’t want to risk not including anything. Therefore, I stopped one of the staff members to ask, and she said that their bills do not include tips. It wasn’t until I looked back later and used Google translate to find a 10% gratuity line item. For a restaurant who has such sweet Duo Tou clams, all the nickeling/diming and outright lying sure had me leaving with a bitter taste in my mouth.   

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 
 Address: 99 Percival St (Lee Theatre Plaza, 7th floor)

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!