Come Chinese New Year, your calendar will be packed with reunion dinners, family gatherings and lo hei celebrations at home and at work. Whether you are celebrating at home with the family or indulging in opulent restaurant meals outdoors, the CNY staples of yu sheng, nian gao, pineapple tarts and more, can get a tad repetitive. Not to worry, restaurants and bakeries have been pulling out all the stops to roll out their intriguing versions of these mainstays – whether it is with a local twist or creative concoctions – and the results are often imaginative and delicious.
This year, change things up with this list of unconventional offerings and make them a part of your celebratory meals. From CNY-themed ice cream cakes, to festively flavoured cookies and cute rat treats aplenty for the Year of the Rat, inject these into your gatherings for a refreshing take.
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One wouldn’t think a Parisian patisserie would be gearing up for Chinese New Year, but it’s not the first time Antoinette has whipped up artisanal delights for the occasion. Get your phones out to capture the perfect boomerang for Abundantly ($38), a lusciously textured chiffon cake balanced with purple sweet potato and black sesame peanut feuilletine.
To eat it, you must slide off the plastic partition, allowing salty cheese cream to pour over the cake (check out our video below) – thus creating a landslide of black and gold tapioca pearls steeped in black sugar, lightly candied sweet potato and yam cubes, gold-covered chocolate coins, ingot and fish.
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This dramatic treat is sure to entertain the young and the old, and symbolises inviting windfalls of wealth and luck into your life.
Antoinette is at 30 Penhas Rd, Singapore 208188, tel: 6293 3121; and Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-28, Singapore 039596, tel: 6235 5109.
Chinese New Year can’t do without its symbols, and Koi fish has its fair share of representing good fortune, success and luck amongst many others. Goodwood Park Hotel is back once again with its eye-catching treats in the form of these Fortune Koi Fish Nian Gaos ($39.40, box of eight) that taste as great as they look.
These petite Koi fish nian gaos are chewy and smooth with a rich red bean paste and will be sure to impress guests at first glance and bite.
Available at The Deli at Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228221, tel: 6730 1786.
The most feared CNY staple by those on a diet now comes in a gourmet, healthier, additive- and food colouring- free version. This is an innovation brought about by Ryan’s Grocery, who believes there’s a way to enjoy festive treats while prioritising health without compromising on quality.
Ryan’s Premium Bak Kwa ($53.90 for 500 g) contains 60 per cent less sugar and salt, and comes in a new spicy variant for those who’d like a kick in their smoky meats. It’s also worth noting that they are made of Australia’s Borrowdale Carbon Neutral Free Range Pork!
Ryan’s Premium Bak Kwa and Ryan’s Spicy Bak Kwa are available online here. You can also place your orders at Great World City, #B1-144/145, or call 6463 3933.
Planning to order from Deliveroo for one of your CNY gatherings? Perk your ears up for this one – exclusively on 31 January and 1 February, the food delivery service will be rolling out these adorable limited edition Mouse Tang Yuans with every order. This is in collaboration with food blogger Miki’s Food Archives to signify strong vitality for the Year of the Rat.
Tang yuans, also known as glutinous rice balls, symbolise family togetherness and are said to bring prosperity when eaten during the New Year.
Mouse Tang Yuans come along with both dine-in and delivery orders on 31 January and 1 February 2020 from Deliveroo Food Market at ALICE@Mediapolis, 29 Media Circus.
Swensen’s has always been ambitious about the festive cakes, and this year is no exception. After last year’s ‘Tong Tong Qiang’ Neopolitan ice cream cake, they are bringing the same flavours back in one made for the Year of the Rat, ‘Squeaking With Joy’ ($59.63, 1kg, serves 10 to 12).
Dressed in a stunning red glaze, this cake will grab the attention of everyone, especially the kids! A gold ingot and a pair of fondant mice top the cake for extra wealth and abundance. With indulgent flavours of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla in every slice, it’s a feast for both the eyes and palate.
Available until 8 February 2020 for dine-in and takeaway at Swensen’s or Earle Swensen’s outlets and online.
Bring in the huat with Hai Tien Lo’s original Pineapple Prosperity Pound Cake ($62) that serves up to 10 people (or more, if you’re modest with servings).
Each slice allows you to relish the tastes of pineapple jam, pineapple buttercream and pineapple pieces – and wears mini pineapples and a big huat on the top, making the perfect centrepiece to your table when you’re having people over for visiting.
The Pineapple Prosperity Cake is available for pre-order here (three day advanced order required). Self-collection from 9 January to 8 February 2020 at Hai Tien Lo, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039595. You can also call 6826 8240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit their website for more information.
BreadTalk has pushed out a bunch of cakes and cookies for CNY, but how could we miss out their main specialty? The next time you pick up your go-to fix for breakfast, consider popping these adorably designed buns into your tray as a quick snack for guests who’ve had their meals and are too sick of calorie-loaded treats.
Each bun carries a design and taste different from the other – starting from the Prosperity Pineapple bun with a crust resembling the Bo Luo bun and fillings of tangy pineapple custard. Those with a preference for bulkier buns can go for the Fortune Pillow, packed full of fragrant pork floss and bak kwa chunks. The last one is bound to be a hit with the children not only for its looks but for its flavours too! The Golden Mouse contains chocolate cream cheese, sliced almonds and cocoa chips.
BreadTalk has multiple outlets.
Catering to visitors with diverse palates? Easily lay out the popcorn from myEureka Singapore’s limited edition Perfect Ten POP-sperity Gift Set ($30) comprising the brand’s top 10 bestselling flavours.
The toothsome bunch includes a mix of savoury and sweet, namely the flavours of Tomato, BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, Original Sea Salt, Caramel, Cheese, Dark Chocolate, White Coffee, Seaweed and Wasabi. With so many choices, everyone’s got to be able to find their favourite!
Putting nuts in your annual Chinese New Year candy tray? Watch your guests’ eyes widen after they’ve reached their hands into these macadamia nuts in the flavour of abalone ($25, 400 g; $42 for two). Local brand Nibbles has combined these two festive standalone foods into an unconventional but tasty snack that has become one of their most popular flavours of macadamia nuts.
The success is attributed to the unique umami twist’s ingredients of shrimp and codfish seasoning as well as their rich and creamy Australian-grown and harvested macadamias. Try it if you haven’t!
Abalone Macadamia Nuts are available at Nibbles’ e-store and at the Chinese New Year Bazaar 2020 @ Chinatown 46 Temple Street from 3 to 24 January 2020, 11am – 1pm.
Their Rose Pineapple Tarts captured the hearts of many tart fans and the good folks at Kele have come up with a gorgeous new open-faced Sweet Potato Pineapple Tart ($29.80). It features the natural sweetness of sweet potato alongside a sweet-tangy pineapple topping. Plus, the purple pastry will be sure to pique your visitors’ interest!
Available at multiple outlets, while stocks last.
This unusual handcrafted traditional-French-meets-Chinese Foie Gras pineapple tart ($38+, 30 pieces) was created by Executive Pastry Chef Sam Leong and is true to the culinary spirit of Racines, which features both French and Chinese cuisines.
In this pairing of foie gras with acidic fruits, the clever use of rich foie gras butter in the dough gives a well-rounded savouriness to the pastry and helps balance the sweet and, at times, sharp flavours of the pineapple.
Available online and at Racines, 9 Wallich St, 5th floor Sofitel Singapore City Centre, Singapore 078885, tel: 6428 5000.
Chef Janice Wong has always surprised us with her innovative desserts being one of the best pastry chefs in Singapore. Try these CNY Special Mr Rat Chocolates ($32 a pair) available in an array of auspicious colours to put a smile on your guests’ face in the Year of the Rat.
And they’re not just chocolate – these playful treats come with cocoa almond fillings for ultimate yums. Everyone would be delighted to be able to bring one of these home!
These Premium Indonesian Shrimp Crackers from Papatonk ($2.60) come in four flavours — Original, Hot Chilli and Lime, Chicken Curry, and Roasted Tomatoes. It is said that these shrimp crackers have the highest shrimp content amongst their counterparts (containing 35 per cent shrimp) and are made with non-frozen seawater shrimp following authentic Indonesian recipes. Definitely something to add to your shopping list.
Assorted Shrimp Crackers are vailable at 7-Eleven, Sheng Siong, Popular bookstores and TaoKaeNoi Land. Click here for more information.
Ooh, Singapore’s first local Mala snack brand, was founded in February 2018 by Gervor Quek. Fuelled by his love for spicy and numbing Szechuan cuisine, aka the “Ooh” factor (hence its name), Gervor creates recipes using dried chilli, peppercorn, fennel and ginger to bring that authentic “mala” taste to his snack creations.
After introducing the Ooh La La (Mala Cassava Chips, $7) and Ooh Ma Ma (Mala Potato Chips, $7), Gervor added Ohh Nuts! — Mala Peanuts ($10, 400 g) and Ooh Crab! — Mala Crab Sticks ($18, 150 g) to the mix. The crispy Mala Crab Sticks, which are sweet and pleasantly, numblingly spicy, are surprisingly addictive.
Mala Crab Sticks are available in limited quantities daily at multiple locations.
Hock Wong debuts its Mala Minced Pork Set ($28, 500 g) this CNY for some spiciness in your bak kwas! Now you can taste the fiery flavour of Mala Xiang Guo (super spicy stir-fry pot) when you snack with your friends and family.
Mala Minced Pork Set is available online. You can also visit their pop-ups at Suntec City, VivoCity, NEX, Novena Square, Jurong Point, Tampines Mall, Tiong Bahru Plaza, Hougang Mall, Capitol Singapore, Causeway Point, Junction 8, United Square and Bedok Mall until 23 January 2020.
Sweet items are important for Chinese New Year celebrations because it signifies sweet endings for everything you do in the coming year. With this in mind, One Farrer Hotel is offering a limited edition (and Instagram-worthy!) Rice Bucket with Gold Coin Fondant Cake ($108) that will surely impress your guests. Only 88 pieces are available, so order quickly if you want it.
Available from 13 – 23 January 2020, for self-collection only at the Escape Restaurant & Lounge confectionery counter at One Farrer Hotel. Free delivery only for orders above $300.
Visit their website for more information.
One Farrer Hotel is at 1 Farrer Park Station Rd, Singapore 217562, tel: 6363 0101.
The Imperial Herbal Chicken is a perennial favourite for its herbal aromas and its energy boosting qualities, which is no surprise with its key ingredients of wolfberry, Chinese angelica, ginseng and star anise.
Besides indulging in it whole this year, treat yourself to the savoury snack version of it from Old Seng Choong wrapped up in buttery goodness. The cookies also come in ancient Chinese designed tins that will make the perfect gift if you’re tired of gifting pineapple tarts! At $23.80 nett (180 g).
You can also take a look at their Fatt Choy Cookies (at the same price) that carry the ingredients of Ho See Fatt Choy.
Herbal Chicken Cookies are available online and at brick-and-mortar stores at Clarke Quay Central and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands until 24 January 2020. They will also be available for purchase at their booth at Takashimaya Shopping Centre until 23 January 2020.
These old-school mini sponge cakes have been around for a long time, and are amongst the most well-loved of Chinese New Year snacks. This is also because they are the most sinful, coming to around 34 kcal a piece.
If you plan on sticking to your New Year’s resolution of keeping fit, you can choose to take pleasure in Seriously Keto’s Kueh Bulohs ($18.80, 22 pieces) instead. All of their snacks are baked using specially-sourced high quality keto-compliant ingredients, making them ‘keto-friendly, low-carb, zero-sugar, diet-conscious, and kilo-friendly’. Enjoy the light decadence of Kueh Bulohs while being kind towards your body!
Available at 32 Seah Street, Singapore 188388 and online for pre-order and delivery until 8 February 2020. Get Kueh Bulohs in a bundle with Cheese Crisps ($20.80, 27 pieces) and Cashew Cookies ($28.80, 30 pieces) at a special price of $58 (UP $68.40).
Trust the Chinese restaurant that has earned multiple awards over the past years to dish out tasteful CNY delicacies with traditional and modern roots. While you can definitely sink your teeth into their Fortune Traditional Nian Gao ($44.94), take a chance at their brand new Pumpkin and Purple Sweet Potato Cake ($44.94) to embrace new flavours and experiences for the new year. All without losing the fried, sticky and sweet taste of home offered by the classic!
Hua Ting is at Orchard Hotel Singapore, Level 2, 442 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238879, tel: 6739 6666. You can also email email@example.com.
HarriAnns, a homegrown brand that specialises in traditional Peranakan delicacies, has always been a hot favourite for CNY snacks. Their HarriAnns Prosperity Tingkat (Pineapple Tarts, Sambal Prawn Rolls and Gula Melaka Cookies, $88) is especially popular.
The latest addition to their ever-growing list are the Nasi Lemak Cookies ($21.90). These crunchy cookies contain fragrant achovies (aka ikan bilis), spicy sambal and creamy coconut milk, and you can taste the savoury ikan bilis and the heat of the sambal chilli gently burning on your tongue.
Text: Cherrie Lim, Additional text: Muneerah Bee/The Finder