Saturday, January 22, 2011

CNY Special (11 must-eats in 2011)

People often ask me- do I prefer Chinese New Year or Christmas?

When it comes to food, the answer is obvious- Chinese New Year of course!

A cute and cheapo SGD10 God of Fortune I bought from Mini Toons (with a movable hand) at Bedok Point. Huat ah!

Chinese New Year is the time I stuff my face silly with all kinds of yummy goodies and cakes. There are just too many to choose from.

Over the years, I have also amassed a list of other must-orders from various shops. Here are my top picks this year. (hint: Click on the underlined text to access more info on the respective restaurant/product and its underlying CNY promotion)


(1) Pineapple Tarts: I usually order the open faced ones from Joyous Pastries. However, you need to order way in advance in order to secure a bottle just before Chinese New Year. Needless to say, I have given up. Thankfully, this year, I chanced upon an excellent closed face version from a random makeshift booth at Raffles Exchange called "Jus Bread". The pineapple filling is laced with cranberry for extra kick and the top crust has some addictive cheesy bits on it. Yum.

Cranberry pineapple cheese tarts from Jus Bread

Centre P's DIY pineapple tarts look especially delish this year. However, at SGD28.80 per bottle, they are a little too pricey for my budget.

Sunnyhills Pineapple Cake from Taiwan also makes its debut into the Singapore market this year (I hear they have opened a makeshift stall in Funan) I'm a big fan of their pineapple cake but find the shelf life (2 weeks) rather short. Also, one small piece packs alot of calories and can really fill you up. Packaging is simple but strangely attractive.

(2) Bak Kwa: Blame it on shameless consumerism but I'm a sucker for Lim Chee Guan bak kwa and consider Chinese New Year incomplete without it- even if it means taking leave to queue and paying through my nose. Lim Chee Guan only sells the traditional squarish pieces in sliced pork style. If you want minced pork (which user cheaper miscellaneous cuts of the pork but is purportedly softer), you can only get it in "gold coin" form. I paid a runner to queue up for 11kg of bak kwa for me this year. At SGD62 per kilo, the total bill (excluding runner's transport and cost) came up to SGD682!

(3) Kueh Bolu: True Blue easily trumps its competitors with kueh bolu that looks as good as it tastes. Love the spongy soft interior and the crisp melt in the mouth texture.

Kueh Bolu from Bengawan Solo has disappointed me tremendously this year. It's dry rubbery texture left me chewing for a good 5 mins before I could gulp it down. Chew yourself silly folks

(4) Green Pea Cookies: Started developing an affinity for these ugly looking cookies 2 years ago and have not looked back since. The ones hawked by "Little Nonya" at Raffles Exchange boast just the right amount of bite and flavor (salty-sweet).

A little on the powdery side but otherwise nice...the one sold at Bengawan Solo is also decent

(5) Nga-Ku Chips: If you haven't tried these before, you are missing out on one of the most addictive Chinese New Year munchies ever! I'm too lazy to fry my own and order my stash from a fish soup auntie at Golden Shoe Carpark. At sGD18 per bottle these babies don't come cheap. I'm seriously thinking of frying my own next year.

These lovelies are only available during CNY

(6) Love Letters: Traditional charcoal baked love letters seem to be disappearing from the market. The best ones I have tried this year hail from Mirana Cake House. Although they come in the modern folded form, they taste equally delish to me.

Bengawan Solo still prepares the traditional "cigar" version in an auspicious red tin

(7) Chocolate chip cookies: Haven't found anything that can beat Famous Amos so far.

(8) White Rabbit candy: A Chinese New Year must-have since childhood days. This popular candy came under fire some years back but has since sprung back into the market with a vengeance. Available in 3 flavors: Creamy Candy, Creamy Milk Candy and Creamy Milk Toffee

(9) F&N Orange: Artificially colored a frightful orange and guaranteed to give you an instant sugar buzz. No drink= No luck!


(10) Yu Sheng (Quick Note: Do you know Yusheng originated from Singapore?):

Yusheng (SGD28, small from Big Eater Seafood). Nothing to shout about but a pretty palate of (mainly artificial) colors. A little too sweet for my liking

The traditional Beng Thin of the better ones I tasted. Comes with battered yam sticks and jellyfish. Really dig the retro looking ang pow which is perched at the side of the platter (used to contain salt and pepper)

Soup Restaurant serves theirs with the biggest mountain of carrots (which come in irritating long strands). Consistently good yusheng which does not disappoint.

Some other reliable places to get your yu sheng fix this year:
Din Tai Fung- uses smoked salmon (Citibank customers get a sizeable discount)
Standard Yusheng 2-5pax: SGD36.80/ SGD28.80 (for Citibank cardholders)
Deluxe Yusheng 6-10 pax: SGD56.80/ SGD48.80 (for Citibank cardholders)

Xi Yan Its tri coloured yusheng doesn't come cheap but looks delectable. If you have extra moolah to spare, try their salivate chicken and momotaro tomatoes too.

If you like your yusheng brimming with fresh shredded vegetables, check out the one at Paradise Inn. The Paradise Group offers reasonably priced Chinese New Year takeaways and set menus this year which do not cost an arm and a leg.

(11) Poon Choi: Poon choi seems to be picking up in popularity. Almost all restaurants sell them now. I'll be ordering mine from Soup Restaurant this year. At SGD238+ for an Abalone Pot and Yusheng that serves 10 pax (you get a further 10% discount with a Citibank credit card), this deal is too good to resist.

Soup Restaurant's Abalone Prosperity Pot failed to live up to expectations. Abalone slices were thin and pathetic and the remaining ingredients cheapo and lack lustre (huge florets of brocolli, beancurd, pig skin, mushroom and cabbage).

Another attractive deal can be found at Prosperous Kitchen which is likewise throwing in yusheng with every Prosperous Fortune Pot purchased (SGD198.80+).

Equally tempting is the imperial sea treasures pot (SGD188) from Marina Mandarin. Order and pay before 23Jan11 to enjoy a whopping 20% early bird discount.

Other places which caught my eye are Crystal Jade (which seems particularly proud of the number of ingredients in its Poon Choi) and Majestic Restaurant (SGD240+ for 6 pax, further 10% discount for DBS cardholders).

We had our department CNY lunch at Paradise Pavilion lately. The Poon Choi was droolworthy and full of yummies like abalone, sea cucumber and scallops. Portions were also very generous. The restaurant charges SGD388 for a portion for 10.

the luxe Poon Choi we had for our department CNY lunch..brimming with all the good stuff you would expect in Poon Choi. Thumbs up!

Since I love pork (esp fatty pork), I was also quite tempted to order the Jiangsu braised pork belly from Min Jiang at Goodwood Park (SGD218 for 6 pax). As extracted from the restaurant's mailer " Braised for eight hours then steamed for another four, the pork belly is exceptionally tender and an absolute delight paired with whole abalones, dried oysters, black moss and flower mushrooms)".

I'll probably be updating this list more as and when I find more noteworthy places. Pictures will be added in due course too.

In the meantime, bon appetit and do drop me a line if you know of any other yummies that I may have inadvertently missed out.

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