Pair of hands holding a pen cai clay pot filled with abalone and pig trotters braised in premium oyster sauce for four hours before layering ingredients including dace fishballs, dried oysters, dried scallops, prawns, sea cucumbers, Chinese mushrooms, fish maw, soy sauce chicken, roasted duck, and black moss on a bed of cabbage, with yusheng at the side

6 Chefs & restaurateurs share the Chinese New Year dishes that warm their hearts

Mention Chinese New Year food, and lively gatherings over generous feasts always come to mind. Once a year, for 15 days, brimming pots of pen cai, colourful yusheng platters, fragrant roast meats and goodies such as pineapple tarts and nian gao make their tempting appearance. Chinese New Year is on 12 Feb 2021, but celebrations officially begin the night before, on the eve.

While it may seem like we eat the same things for CNY every year, these foods are not banal additions to the table. Many people celebrate the Lunar New Year for its heartwarming traditions, as a community and within the family. It is a time of bonding over gourmet favourites and culinary activity—a comforting anchor especially in these turbulent times.

We ask six F&B insiders from some of Singapore’s best Chinese restaurants to share their favourite food traditions during Chinese New Year, and a dish in their restaurants’ CNY menu that’s inspired by those memories. As you order these items to savour at home, celebrate familial bonds and friendships that have endured through the years!

Executive Chef Ben Zeng, Hai Tien Lo, Pan Pacific Singapore

Chef Ben Zeng, Executive Chef of Hai Tien Lo, Pan Pacific Singapore

In Dongbei, dumplings are for homecomings

“My wife Lin Sheng is from Dongbei. In her hometown, dumplings are must-haves during Chinese New Year and when children return home after a long time away from their parents. Dumplings are a form of comfort food. This is especially for those who return home during the Spring Festival and look forward to those wrapped by their mothers. Dumpling making is a regular family bonding activity for our family and we’d make 120 to 150 pieces each time we crave for them.”

A big claypot with floral print of Eight Head Whole Abalone, Dried Oysters, Sea Cucumber, Dried Fish Maw, Pork Knuckle, Lobster, Goose Web, Dried Scallops, Boiled Chicken, Bean Gluten, Chinese Mushrooms, Black Moss, Sliced Lotus Roots and Broccoli and minced pork dumplings by Executive Chef Ben Zeng from Pan Pacific Singapore's Cantonese restaurant Hai Tien Lo

CNY food inspiration: Hai Tien Lo’s Premium Wealth Treasure Pot

Chef Zeng presents a unique form of pen cai at Hai Tien Lo with the Premium Wealth Treasure Pot (from $508 for 6 pax). Besides 15 premium ingredients such as eight-head whole abalone, dried fish maw, lobster, goose web and dried scallops, his version includes minced pork dumplings. Chef Zeng says, “It is not usual for pen cai to have dumplings. But to me, they are a strong symbol of reunion and family. I hope diners can bask in the joyous feeling of togetherness and home while eating this dish.”

Credit card promo

Enjoy $10 off with your UOB Card. Valid on all orders fulfilled from now till 15 Feb 2021 with a minimum $80 spend from the entire menu. Apply the Oddle promo code ‘ODDLEUOB’ upon checkout.