SINGAPORE — As swiftly as Christmas came, so too it has come to pass. In its place, an equally red celebration that involves mandarin oranges, bak kwa, and abundant shouts of shōu dào (received) during the tossing of Yusheng. As the year of the Rat dawns upon us, chefs are taking it upon themselves to come up with the most creative ways to express this year’s Chinese zodiac in the food served. Theatrics aside, I set out to find seven of the best Chinese New Year feasts on this island that makes any reunion dinner a breeze.
Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel
Like its Christmas promotion, Goodwood Park Hotel once again offers a slew of takeaway selections that are indulgent, impressive, and makes life so much easier for the ambitious host. Look forward to ‘Pot of Gold’ (S$243.95 nett for eight persons) that comes filled to the brim with slices of slow-braised pork belly with strips of golden pumpkin and plum six-head Australian abalones and delivered with a physical claypot. You’ll be the talk of Chinese New Year with everyone gawking over your dedication to this year’s reunion dinner. Don’t worry. We won’t tell.
Supplement your Pot of Gold with Longevity Noodles (S$201.15 nett for six persons)—capellini pasta tossed in a sauce of soya sauce, shallot oil and kombu and topped with braised baby abalones and Ibérico pork slices. On offer too is Joyful Abundance Yusheng (S$179.75 nett) for the perfect lou hei experience. It comes with romaine lettuce, wild arugula, yellow frisee, radishes, pickled melon strips, red shiso, and fresh pomelo, topped with cheesy deep-fried chee cheong fan strips and raw salmon slices.
Nestled in the bowels of National Gallery Singapore, Yàn exudes contemporary chinoiserie, in a classic setting of an upscale Chinese restaurant. This lunar new year at Yàn, the Harvest Pen Cai takes centre stage. Traditionally, the pen cai is an elaborate dish with ‘expensive’ ingredients arranged in layers. Here, the Harvest Pen Cai is a grand showing of 18 premium ingredients such as abalone, whole conpoy, roast pork, and fish maw, all individually prepared and simmered in braised duck gravy. It’s available for both dine-in and takeaway and is priced at S$280++ for 5 diners and S$560++ for 10 diners. Do remember to place your order for the pen cai two days in advance.
Toss to abundance, prosperity, and good fortune with Yàn’s Shunde-style yusheng, Kaleidoscope of Prosperity. It is a mound of crispy vermicelli adorned with shreds of purple and yellow sweet potatoes, kailan and pickled ginger, and comes with slices of fresh yellowtail topped with gold flakes for an extra serving of ‘lo’.
Set menus are priced at S$98++ to S$198++ per person.
Festive set menus are available from 1 January 2020 – 8 February 2020.
Lunar New Year a la carte menu is available from 25 January 2020 – 8 February 2020.
On 24 January 2020, there will be two seatings for dinner—5.30pm and 8.15pm
For a more unique experience, look no further than Tablescape where they take on the classic with a modern european twist. There’s the classic Prosperity Yu Sheng Platter (S$88++ for 4-6 pax, and S$128++ for 7-10 pax), featuring generous slices of abalone, smoked salmon and crispy fish skin, with pickled red and green yam, pomelo, ginger, carrots, roasted peanuts and golden crackers.
But why go for the classic when there’s a Foie Gras Yu Sheng Platter (S$88++ for 4-6 pax, and S$128++ for 7-10 pax) that comes with foie gras terrine, crispy fish skin, and yuzu peel. It is in addition to the usual yusheng accompaniment of daikon, cucumber, pickled red yams, wakame, pomelo, ginger, carrots, roasted sunflower seeds, and golden crackers. The dressing for the yu sheng is a sweet and sour mix of apple, passionfruit, plum and sesame with the option of a mala sauce for spice lovers.
Yusheng is available from 10 Jan – 8 Feb 2020 for dine-in and takeaway.
Dine-in guests can order on the day of their meal, takeaway requires 5 days advance notice. Takeaway orders may be collected at Tablescape from 11am to 7pm
If a reunion dinner with a Thai-Chinese twist on the traditional sounds positively yummy, look no further than Blue Jasmine. Their Thai Chin Yu Sheng comes with generous slices of salmon gravlax on a heap of traditionally Thai vegetables and fruits like green mango and papaya.
After an auspicious toss of the Yu Sheng, turn your attention to the extensive array of the buffet spread. Start with a salad spread that includes prawn and melon salad and the smashed cucumber salad with seafood. Then segue into tantalising mains of steamed garoupa, claypot rice with Chinese sausage and chicken, and my personal favourite: spice braised duck—cooked in a heady broth of Chinese herbs and served with egg and beancurd.
Blue Jasmine Chinese New Year Eve Reunion Dinner Buffet
24 January 2020, 6:30pm – 10pm
S$58++ per adult, S$29++ per child (6 – 12 years old)
Children aged 5 years old or younger dine with the compliments of Blue Jasmine
Park Hotel Clarke Quay
At Park Hotel Clarke Quay, festivities are pared back to its most meaningful, espousing instead traditional values of good luck, abundance, and fortune for the year ahead. It starts with the Auspicious Abundance Yu Sheng that comes with layers of fresh vegetables and pan-seared United States scallops, topped with red caviar and crispy silver needle noodles. The crispy savoury treat also known as 老鼠粉 (lao shu fen) pays homage to the auspicious zodiac with a playful twist on the Chinese word for rat (shu).
Save some space for the steamed red garoupa with yellow bean paste. It is the best steamed fish I’ve tasted in my rounds of yu sheng tasting. The fresh, sweet taste of garoupa pairs brilliantly with the house-made yellow bean sauce and a fragrant blend of house-made minced ginger, red chilli and garlic.
As a prawn addict, the golden baked prawn with two-style potato salad and golden almond flakes is a dish I looked forward to. It is served with a warm and buttery mash topped with bacon bits and almond flakes. The prawns sit on a bed of chilled mashed dressed with tangy mayonnaise and is easily the most memorable treat you’ll enjoy this lunar new year.
Park Hotel Clarke Quay’s Chinese New Year offerings run from 10 January to 8 February 2020
Lunch: 12pm to 2pm; Dinner: 5.30pm and 8.30pm (two seatings)
• 8-Course Ultimate Success (S$768++ per table of 9 to 10 diners)
• 8-Course Prosperity (S$698++ per table of 7 to 8 diners)
• 7-Course Longevity (S$648++ per table of 6 to 7 diners)
• 6-Course Harmony (S$388++ per table of 4 to 5 diners)
Cassia at Capella
Cassia at Capella pays tribute to all things Cantonese with their series of refined Chinese New year menus of a Dim Sum lunch and two reunion set dinner. Chef Lee Hiu Ngai and his team have curated the Prosperity Reunion Set Dinner (S$139++ per person) to include favourites such as Double-boiled Thick Chicken Broth with Fish Maw, Duo of Scallops and Flower Mushroom and Stewed Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Fresh Fish Maw and Dried Oyster with Brown Sauce.
The other option is the Fortune Reunion Set Dinner (S$169++ per person) that features, amongst other highlights, Stewed Ee-Fu Noodles with King Prawn in Superior Stock and Homemade Yam Paste with Bird’s Nest, Lotus Seeds and Almond Cream.
A Cantonese-inspired spread is not complete without the obligatory Dim Sum lunch. Look forward to dim sum delights such as Steamed Crystal Dumpling with Black Truffle and Fresh Mushrooms and Steamed Kangaroo Meat Dumpling with Bitter Gourd in Black Bean Sauce.
Lunch: 12pm - 2pm; Dinner: 6.30pm - 10pm; Oriental Afternoon Tea: 3pm - 5pm (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)
Chopsuey Cafe at Dempsey
PS.Cafe’s sister restaurant serving contemporary Chinese cuisine, Chopsuey Cafe at Dempsey has curated two set menus for 4-6 people at S$68++ per diner and 7-10 people at S$88++ per diner.
The first set menu is an array of seven courses with selections such as Chopsuey Chilli Jam Prawns tossed in a chilli jam and topped with crispy egg clouds, and a Jade Ocean Trout. Notable main course dishes include Sweet Salty Spicy Fried Chicken and Chef's Wok-fried Claypot Rice (S$28++) with traditional Chinese sausage, water chestnuts and fresh herbs.
The second set menu for a larger group comes with the addition of Tamarind King Prawns, Crispy Cod with Chilli Garlic Sauce, and Fried Chicken Rendang. Both menus come with Chopsuey Lucky Lunar 'Lo Hei' (S$28++ for half, S$48++ for full), a healthy variation of Yu Sheng with fresh trout, kale, celeriac, sprouts, red radish, blueberries and wild rice which is then drizzled with a homemade dressing of fresh calamansi, lemon juice, plum sauce, marmalade, and Japanese vinegar.
Chinese New Year set menus are available 13th January to 8th February 2020