There is no denying that a convening of the entire family tree can be therapeutic in its wholeness, since distance has over the past two years become more than prominent and sensitive a topic. Yet depending on how you look at it, the upcoming Lunar New Year period can either be that extra snooze time post-Christmas, or a soul-sucking daze punctured with perfunctory house visits.
Whether or not you meet up with your stationed-far-from-home relatives, the extended period of extended family hours is quite something. So while you can't overhaul tradition just like that, there are other traditions with leeway for change that you can effect to make those two weeks easier. Especially with the five pax, the multiple of dinners you have to attend.
Clearly, this is not a listicle for those who take comfort in the familiarity of the usual Chinese family restaurant fanfare. Screw that extra serving of longevity and fortune. Switch things up a little with these non-conventional reunion dinner ideas this 2022.
If you are a fan of uni or feel like this is the year to treat your whole family to something more resplendent, here is a one to get your hands on. Instead of the usual salmon or wolf herring, opt for this trifecta of sea treasures for your annual tossing food party instead–Uni Gallery’s Uni & Caviar Sashimi Yusheng Platter features some rich and creamy Canadian Uni, Hokkaido Ikura pearls and the award-winning Polanco Caviar that was flown down all the way from Uruguay. Complete with the season’s best salmon, amberjack and swordfish, the luxurious dish can only do one thing—impress.
Uni Gallery is located at 7500A Beach Road #B1-310, Singapore 199591.
Here is the brilliant option to do it the Peranakan way with Rempapa. Drawing on rojak, Rempapa’s rendition of the yusheng features a vibrant medley of fresh fruits and vegetables, comprising pomegranate, pineapple, pomelo, purple cabbage, green mango, guava, jicama, and cucumber. Of the other time-honoured recipes lovingly passed down by the Chef Damian D’Silva's maternal grandmother for their Lunar New Year menu, consider the Ayam Sioh, a 24-hour marinated chicken, the Sayur Kailo With Pork Ribs, and the Ikan Assam Surani, an otherwise 'lost' Peranakan dish where a bony fish (here a threadfin) is cooked till naturally sweet in a sweet and sour gravy. The latter should be savoured slowly; nearly every ingredient is sliced by hand, then fried individually.
Rempapa is located at Park Place Residences at PLQ #01-01-03, Singapore 409053.
For those who have a passion for prawns or have already tried (and loved) Ebi Bar's Signature Chao Da Ebi Prawn Noodles, you'll be delighted to hear that you can now dabao its soup and the noodle bar's infamous sauce trio home to accompany reunion dinners at home this year. It takes no less than 40kg of fried prawn shells and heads and up to 10 hours of simmering so all that's left on your part is to throw in your favourite noodles or hotpot ingredients into the Umami Goodness Broth. As for the Curry Mayo, Tangy Sambal, or Supreme Sambal, eat with caution. They make for unbelievably addictive dipping sauces for meals, chips and snacks.
Ebi Bar is located at Cuppage Plaza #B1-21, Singapore 228796.
It is difficult to appease everyone's preferences for big family meals like reunion dinners, even more so when kids are involved. Not that we have to get their approval on the menu, rather, to get them to stay seated and happy is PizzaExpress' limited edition Bak Kwa & Pork Floss Pizza. A great choice for sharing, this oriental fusion dish features the indulgent pork bak kwa and hae bee hiam crackers, the juxtaposition of the familiar doughy texture and flavours intensified with the inclusion of staple Lunar New Year ingredients like pork floss, Chinese coriander and sweet plum sauce. There is also a Tiger Prawn Scallop Spaghetti with X.O. Sauce for those who prefer pasta, and Pineapple Dough Balls that provides a PizzaExpress twist of saccharine joy to the classic pineapple tart.
PizzaExpress is located at 251 Holland Ave, Singapore 278981 and other outlets across the island.
A good idea for those who are looking to celebrate in a cafe setting can opt for Chopsuey Cafe, which offers a five-course meal with at least three east-meets-west Chinese comfort dishes to choose from for each course. From a healthy starter of Chopsuey’s Lucky Lunar ‘Lo Hei’ (comprising of wholesome ingredients trout, kale, celeriac, sprouts, red radish, blueberries and wild rice), choose from starters like Shredded Filo Seafood Roll or Sticky Chicken Rice Balls, and mains like the tender Steamed Shaoxing Corn-Fed Chicken and White Pepper Espresso Ribs. After an accompaniment of carbs like Wok-Fried Claypot Rice or Smoked Duck Wok-Fried Noodles, the meal will conclude with a Steamed Kaya Pudding, a new dessert that is just novel enough to pique the taste buds without completely off-setting the comfortable cool of the Dempsey area.
Chopsuey Cafe is located at 10 Dempsey Road #01-23, Singapore 247700. The Lunar New Year menu is available for order in stores and islandwide on Oddle Eats.