CNY, you’ve been sneaking up on us for some time and now we’re knee deep in yu shengs, pineapple tarts and decluttering the house to bring in that good feng shui. Amidst all the Chinese New Year events happening around town, it all comes down to celebrating over good food and (we hope) good company. If you’re going to be stuffing yourself into oblivion, here are the CNY menus that really impressed us – you know where we’d be doing the rounds of reunion dinners…
EDITOR’S PICK: Folklore
Available 9 – 14 February
Every time we go to Folklore we feel like we’ve been invited to someone’s home for dinner. No surprise, as chef Damian D’Silva draws on his family’s recipes to conjure up his menus. And yes, every dish has a story. For CNY, we have D’Silva’s Peranakan grandmother to thank for this feast. It all starts with the DIY popiah: show off your wrapping skills with the handmade egg popiah skin, and try not to overload it with crab meat and rich jicama and pork belly. The skin is burrito-sized, so go easy is all we’ll say.
The garang assam, served with crispy you tiao for dipping, is entirely addictive thanks to its gutsy galangal and lemongrass-loaded rempah; equally moreish is the salty-sweet Peranakan mee siam, with its thick gravy made for optimum noodle slurping. And just saying, you’d better be into your chilli: the Peranakan prawn salad, with a chilli and lime dressing, is said to have made a few diners cry last year. It’s been toned down this time round (and it’s intense but amazing), but consider yourself forewarned. You’ll need the sayur beremi next: a chilled dish made from a forgotten Indonesian green – there’s chilli in this too, by the way.
The revelation in this menu? The sayur kailo, or ‘drumstick curry’. The drumsticks are actually gourds from the moringa tree – to enjoy them, you need to bite the stalk and scrape out the tender flesh, which has soaked up all the flavours from the pork and coconut curry they’re cooked in. Yes, you’ve gotta work for this dish, and it’s delicious.
Folklore; 700 Beach Rd, Level 2 Destination Singapore, Singapore 199598, p. 6679 2900
Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel
Available 18 January – 19 February
If you’re seriously into your CNY classics, Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel delivers, with a series of set menus that start at six courses for lunch. You’d better be all in. Of course, you’ll need to start with a yu sheng, and this year’s offering is a sophisticated, not-too-sweet combination with salmon, house-made bak kwa, pomelo and an uplifting calamansi and lemongrass dressing. Master Chef Chan Hwan Kee personally illustrates each plate, by the way.
The double-boiled chicken stuffed with bird’s nest is elevated with a foie gras dumpling (takeaway from Min Jiang at One-North). It’s the kind of dish that looks deceptively simple but makes you close your eyes while you enjoy it. Here’s a not-so-subtle nod to the year of the pig: the prosperity duo, a dish loaded with slow-baked honey butter pork ribs and a crackling-coated deep-fried pork knuckle, accompanied by an ‘Asian sauerkraut’ of pickled cabbage and pineapple. Take it home from Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel.
This is an indulgent, comforting spread that’s been perfectly executed, and with so much work behind each dish. You can order signature dishes to take away too, but if you’re eating in, leave room for those epic desserts pictured at the very top. I’m a new devotee to cempedak thanks to this meal.
Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel; select items available for takeaway/dine-in at 22 Scotts Rd, Goodwood Park Hotel, Singapore 228221, p. 6730 1704 and Min Jiang at One-North, No. 5 Rochester Park, Singapore 139216, p. 6774 0122
Available 21 January – 19 February
Oh, Chopsuey, you do a damn good modern yu sheng. Like last year’s offering, this feels more like a superfood salad: there’s kale, pomegranate and blueberries, for a start. You already know Chopsuey Cafe has a modern, Westernised take on Chinese faves, and there are two Chinese New Year set menus to celebrate the year of the pig. You’ll need a crowd of 4-6 to enjoy one feast; and a gang of up to 10 for the slightly gutsier spread.
Highlights? The white pepper espresso pork ribs: the aroma hits you before the dish lands on the table, and it’s just as intensely garlicky, peppery – and delicious – as you anticipate. The jade Atlantic halibut was the other firm favourite at our table: smothered in scallions and ginger, it’s a classic, and so perfect. The sticky five spice roast duck is served with shards of cinnamon, star anise and slices of orange – it’s incredibly tender, but I would have loved more crispiness. This textural craving is satisfied with the claypot fried rice though: the water chestnuts are insanely crunchy. The CNY tipples bring the fun: can you see us going past a cocktail called Giggling Pig? Of course not.
Psst: If you just want to do something more relaxed at home, you can order that lucky lunar yu sheng via Foodpanda!
Chopsuey Cafe; Block 10, Dempsey Road, #01-23, Singapore 247700, p. 9224 6611
VEGETARIAN MENU: Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific Singapore
Available 21 January to 19 February
Canto restaurant Hai Tien Lo is already known for its contemporary take on Chinese cuisine, but it’s caught our eye too for making a point to introduce the option of healthier brown rice. Pat on the back there, but here’s why we’re giving the resto a shoutout: there are seven impressive set menus as part of its CNY celebrations, with one dedicated to the vegetarian crowd. The seven-course feast is $128++ per person, and starts with a yu sheng loaded with crispy enoki mushroom, wolfberries and wild veggies. Highlights include sauteed asparagus with crispy lotus root, wok-fried rice with preserved vegetables. Heads up: gluten-free diners need to know there’s mock abalone and chicken; vegans, there is a bird’s nest on the menu so call ahead and ask them to swap this out.
Hai Tien Lo; Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Blvd, Singapore 039595, 6826 8240
VEGETARIAN MENU: Szechuan Court at Fairmont Singapore
Available 24 January – 19 February
Szechuan Court is giving us choice paralysis, and it all starts with four different yu shengs: salmon, snow crab, abalone and a sliced coconut meat, and vegetarian abalone version. If your reunion crew can settle on just one, there are six set menus to choose from, and if you want to go all out for CNY the resplendence set menu, $1288++ for a party of eight could be just your thing. The nine-course spread includes that snow crab yu sheng, one mother of a platter loaded with house-roasted duck and drunken chicken, pork belly and prawns. South African abalone and X.O. Aussie scallops are just some of the other stars on that set menu, so bring your stretchy pants.
Vegetarians, there’s a dedicated eight-course feast for you at $108++ per person – this one featuring yam rice net rolls, sauteed tofu with dried chilli and cashews, braised noodles with shredded vegetables and chia seed aloe vera jelly. Going a la carte so there’s something for everyone? We can’t go past a damn good X.O. sauce so our bet is on the signature sauteed coral clam and jumbo asparagus (pictured above). It’s $68 per portion, but it’s CNY!
Szechuan Court at Fairmont Singapore; 80 Bras Basah Rd, Singapore 189560, p. 6339 7777
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