Your guide to eating well this Chinese New Year
Some of the food may not be cheap, but they are well worth the price
The upcoming Year of the Ox will be so out of the ordinary, with safety restrictions firmly in place.
Just like Hari Raya, Deepavali and Christmas before, we have to find ways to make the best out of it, and my way is to eat well.
The pandemic may have crushed some businesses, but food remains relevant and, for some players, the situation is even hopeful.
For me, 2021 is about balance.
Do not shortchange someone's worth, but do not be blinded by buzz either. Pay a fair price you can live with.
And with that in mind, here are eight places I found to have great value. Some may not be cheap, but for the joy and comfort I glean from them, I am willing to pay.
HAI TIEN LO
Hai Tien Lo (Pan Pacific Hotel, Tel: 6826-8240) offers one of this year's most value-added staples with its pen cai.
Depending on your budget, you can get the Classic Treasure Pot (from $268) with abalone and bird's nest, or the pricier Premium Wealth Treasure Pot (from $468) with 15 ingredients.
Regardless of price, you will get a steaming pot of delicious happiness.
After your meal, just keep some of the sauce in the pot, add some stock and whatever ingredients you have left over and you have another meal.
For those who prefer to dine out, Yan (National Gallery Singapore, Tel: 6384-5585) offers six set menus, starting with the vegetarian menu at $78 a person.
This Cantonese restaurant is famous for its flavour-packed traditional dishes, and my favourite dish from its festive menu is from Set Menu 5 ($228 a person) - the Double-boiled Fish Maw, Chicken with Cordyceps Flower Soup.
After such a tumultuous last year, you will want comfort, and drinking this will bring on such bliss.
Crystal Jade does value well. Head to estore.crystaljade.com to check what is available and focus on the sets for exceptional value.
If you are looking for yusheng, its Season of Wealth Golden Scallop Yusheng (from $108) should impress.
Expect lots of vegetables, fruits, pickled vegetables, deep fried yam strips, Hsinchu bee hoon, with an olive oil-based dressing, and the winning touch - scallop slices that are briefly torched.
One of the most memorable yusheng for the Year of the Ox comes from an Italian restaurant.
Basilico (Regent Singapore, Tel: 6725-3232) presents one with angel hair pasta laden with applewood smoked salmon, Amalfi lemon-poached baby scallops, Norcia black truffles, Avruga caviar and pickled porcini mushrooms.
It is $128 and available from Feb 11 to 26.
After this, you can go over to Summer Palace for a traditional and equally delicious meal.
There are modern versions of yusheng, but sometimes the traditional ones hit all the right spots.
Putien's Prosperity Yu Sheng (with abalone) (from $39.80) is as expected, with pomelo strips, jellyfish, roasted white sesame and peanuts, and fried seaweed, with five-head Nanri abalone.
The sauce contains ingredients such as liquorice, sour plum sauce, tangerine sauce and peanut oil, and the taste reminds you of all the yusheng you have had before.
Visit www.putien.com for more information.
Wah Lok (Carlton Hotel, Tel: 6311-8188) is selling its beloved CNY offerings online via www.signatures.carltonhotel.sg.
One to try is its version of Buddha Jumps Over The Wall (from $526), a nutritious soup choking with premium ingredients that can take centre stage on your dining table.
Soups are an ultimate comfort and worth the value for an occasional indulgence.
Min Jiang (Goodwood Park Hotel, Tel: 6730-1704) has a double-boiled abalone soup and eel fish maw ($248), which has a collagen-rich soup simmered for three hours, with delicious prawn dumplings and minced pork meatballs. The natural sweetness that comes through will make you feel the love.
BreadTalk's Bak Kwa Salted Egg Pastry ($13.80 a box of four) could be one of the most dangerously addictive snacks this season.
It has a salty tau sar filling with barbecued pork and salted egg yolk, wrapped within buttery pastry.
I finished the box in a sitting. Thank goodness it is not too pricey, so you can buy a few boxes to stand by.