Ever wondered what pineapple tarts actually mean? We’ve demystified your Chinese New Year goodies, and gathered the best places for getting them
You can tell Chinese New Year is coming when Singapore’s streets and malls are decked in bright lanterns and festive decor, and suddenly everyone’s into special CNY treats such as pineapple tarts, love letters and bak kwa. If you’re wondering just what these festive foods are, and why Singaporeans are willing to queue for hours for the best (seriously, we do), then read on.
Pssst… If you’ve got a DBS or POSB card, we’ve lined up some perks when you purchase these snacks!
What is it: Bite-sized, buttery pastries typically topped or filled with sweet pineapple jam. They even come in flavours ranging from kaya to earl grey!
Why we eat it: The Chinese are huge fans of homonymic symbolism. Pineapple tarts are known as ong lai in Hokkien and wong lai in Cantonese, and both sound like “prosperity arriving” in the respective dialects – making these an essential (and delicious) part of the festivities.
Where to get it: Head to Bakerzin for fun pineapple and ingot-shaped ones – they are sure to be a hit with the kids and adults.
What is it: Barbecued pork jerky with an irresistibly sweet and smoky flavour.
Why we eat it: This popular CNY delicacy has its roots in China’s Fujian province, where it was only served during special occasions like Chinese New Year.
Where to get it: You can’t go wrong with bak kwa specialists Bee Cheng Hiang and Fragrance, local brands that are synonymous with Singapore’s heritage.
What is it: A sweet glutinous rice cake that can be served steamed, deep fried, or with coconut.
Why we eat it: Symbols of prosperity are an integral part of Chinese culture, so it comes as no surprise that the nian gao—which can be literally translated as ‘new year, new heights’—is a Chinese New Year favourite.
Where to get it: For an unorthodox take on the sweet treat, check out Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel for variations with cempedak and yam.
What is it: Crispy, wafer-thin egg rolls.
Why we eat it: These delicious pastries were once believed to be a discreet way for lovers to exchange sweet nothings. It may sound cheesy to non-romantics, but we still can’t resist the idea of eating them!
Where to get it: Pan Pacific Singapore’s classic love letters are impressive, to say the least – it also comes in fuss-free hampers.
What is it: Tiny, deep fried spring rolls with sambal shrimp fillings
Why we eat it: Talk about counting ourselves lucky – these tasty morsels are packed with auspicious symbols! The shrimp represents happiness and good fortune, while the spring rolls are reminiscent of gold bars.
Where to get it: Colony Bakery does handmade ones, packed in a charming Peranakan-inspired tin that’s sure to delight your guests.
We know you want them all now; we’ve got special discounts on your favourite CNY snacks from our recommended stores when you use a DBS credit or debit card! Check out the list for full details, including beauty perks for a gorgeous CNY ‘do, and brand new décor for the holidays.
This article is sponsored by DBS