A fixture of traditional Chinese food also known as zongzi, these rice dumplings are getting a modern spin from some of the best Chinese restaurants in Singapore. Unique gourmet bak chang? Why not!
According to Chinese folklore, bak chang, or glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, are a symbol of tribute during the Duan Wu Festival – we know this colloquially as the Dragon Boat Festival. Legend has it that these dumplings were thrown into a river where a famous Chinese poet drowned himself, to prevent the fishes from eating his body. Morbid origins aside, (and fortunately for us), bak chang is now a seasonal Chinese delicacy that’s traditionally enjoyed around this time of year, often stuffed with ingredients such as stewed meat, chestnuts, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), mushrooms, and salted egg yolk.
But this time, we decide to toy with tradition and present some Chinese restaurants that are shaking up the bak chang recipe with their own twists. Get hungry for these unique bak chang in Singapore.
Man Fu Yuan
As stuffed as the ingredients you’ll find in bak chang, the selection at InterContinental Singapore’s flagship Chinese restaurant is just as jam-packed. New must-tries this year include the ginseng chicken with red dates rice dumpling ($10.80), and the black truffle pork belly rice dumpling ($10.80) if you’re a sucker for anything truffle-y. The roasted pork and duck rice dumpling also makes a comeback ($21.80), as does the signature X.O. sauce Nyonya rice dumpling ($10.80) for all your Peranakan foodies out there.
Man Fu Yuan, InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road, Singapore 188966, p. 6338 7600. Available throughout May.
Resorts World Sentosa
Just like a spinning roulette you’ll find in the casin… we mean, integrated resort, participating restos within the Sentosa-based resort offer a hodgepodge of possibilities when it comes to their bak chang creations. Forest by Celebrity Chef Sam Leong dishes out a dumpling with sea whelk, dried oysters and Hokkaido dried scallop, while the Australian Osia Steak and Seafood Grill whips up one with five spiced kurobuta pork. These all come in a bundle priced at $98, which also includes a dumpling with organic barley and quinoa (Tangerine), Australian wild abalone (Feng Shui Inn), and unagi (Syun).
Collection at Feng Shui Inn, Lvl G2 Crockfords Tower, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098269, p. 6577 6688. Available ’til 30 May.
A big advocate of London-style roast duck? These Chinese dumplings get a cosmopolitan twist at Conrad Centennial Singapore’s Golden Peony – this season’s highlight is unequivocally the London Duck X.O. Sauce Rice Dumpling ($18.80), stuffed with roast duck, pork belly, mushroom, chestnuts, the restaurant’s signature home-made X.O. chilli sauce. There’s even a vegetarian dumpling filled with black truffle ($12.80), and a chilli crab rice dumpling (also $18.80) if you’re craving some local flavours.
Golden Peony, Level 3 Conrad Centennial Singapore, 2 Temasek Boulevard, Singapore 038983, p. 6432 7482. Available from 10 to 30 May.
The Fullerton’s renowned Chinese restaurant might’ve recently undergone a menu revamp, but it certainly hasn’t lost its touch with its rice dumplings, once again unveiling its “Best of the Best” series this year. One knockout flavour with a spicy kick is its sambal chicken quinoa and glutinous rice dumpling, that’s inspired by Peranakan cuisine. But if you’re looking for something lavish, indulge in Jade’s classic Hong Kong-style abalone glutinous rice dumpling that’s filled with two 10-head abalones. A Golden Treasures basket – containing eight dumplings in four flavours – goes for $88 nett.
Jade, 1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178. p. 6877 8188. Available from 13 to 30 May.
Hai Tien Lo
Pan Pacific Singapore’s Hai Tien Lo celebrates the season in a big way, with aptly mega-sized dumplings bigger than your face (trust us, we compared). This year sees the return of Hai Tien Lo’s traditional Cantonese jumbo rice dumpling – it’s $30.80 a pop, but its monstrous size and decadent fillings justify the price tag. Premium ingredients include dried oysters and scallops, Japanese mushrooms, fatty pork belly, salted egg yolk and premium glutinous rice you can easily share amongst a group of five.
Hai Tien Lo, Level 3 Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039595. Available from 1 to 30 May.
Not over the salted egg trend yet? Head to this renowned Chinese restaurant franchise to get your fix. For just $7.80, you can get an elevated rendition of this Dragon Boat Festival staple with Crystal Jade’s roast duck salted egg rice dumpling, that’s also stuffed with pork belly, chestnuts and mung beans. Not high-end enough? The premium rice dumpling with abalone ($18.80) should do the trick.
Crystal Jade has several outlets islandwise. Available ’til 30 May.
Bak changs are getting a major twist at TCC – not only are these Chinese delicacies presented in the Japanese form of onigiri, but they’re also stuffed with local ingredients that will make your mouth water. The sambal hotate ($7.90) is up your alley if you’re a spice fiend who digs some heat, and the laksa prawn ($7.90) is another irresistible offering for those of you who can’t get enough of the iconic hawker dish.
TCC has several outlets islandwide. Available ’til 31 May.
If you’re checking out the Dragon Boat Festival, make sure you visit the DBS Marina Regatta too.