We’ve done the untenable task of lo-hei-ing more times than necessary during the months of November and December to bring you our definitive list of where to eat during the Chinese New Year season. So whether you’re looking for somewhere intimate to get away from the crowds, or to host a raucous reunion dinner for the whole clan, we’ve got just the places.
01 | Cassia
Restaurants tend to have field days during years of edible animals, like the Rooster or Cow: When it comes to the Rat? Not so much. But just when you thought the Year or the Rat made food-related puns impossible, Cassia ups the ante: As part of their special Chinese New Year offerings, Cassia has put kangaroo on the menu: You can have them wok-fried, in black pepper sauce, braised, or even in a dumpling. (The rationale? The Chinese word for kangaroo, dai shu, shares the same word for rat, shu).
Our favourite is the flavourful wok-fried kangaroo with black pepper sauce, which is more tender and less gamey than one might think — and if you’re squeamish about eating them, the redolent black pepper sauce adds just the right amount of kick to make you forget you’re chowing down on Roo.
Don’t feel too bad for the fluffy marsupials — they’ve been a staple in traditional Aboriginal diets for centuries, loved for their high protein-to-fat ratio. But if you’d rather stick to more familiar ground, Cassia also offers comforting favourites like baked lobster, double-boiled broths, and yam paste with Bird’s Nest.
For bookings, visit Cassia’s website here.
02 | Madame Fan
Nothing says ‘extra’ like a good old fashioned Chinese dinner, and if there’s one thing that the NCO Club’s Madame Fan really revels in this Lunar New Year, it’s being wonderfully, decadently, exuberantly over-the-top.
Drenched in red velvets and dark marbles, Madame Fan channels old-world drama, especially once the resident jazz band takes the stage with their vintage-meets-pop sound.
The surroundings will hardly distract you from the food, though. That same cheeky modernity that runs through Madame Fan makes itself evident on their Lunar New Year menus, too: Charcoal grilled wagyu beef, braised 6-head truffle abalone, and braised king prawn with cheese vermicelli take centerstage here, rounded off with a pineapple-shaped white chocolate mousse dessert that’s as auspicious as it is delectable.
For bookings, visit Madame Fan’s website here.
03 | Violet Oon
Violet Oon isn’t known as a local culinary juggernaut for nothing. She’s elevated Nonya cuisine into a realm of its own, and this Chinese New Year, she’s reminding us just how with three new Peranakan-inspired CNY dishes.
The star is undoubtedly the wu tao gao, or steamed yam cake. Topped as it is with minced chicken, hae bee — the better-known moniker of Nonya-style dried shrimp — deep-fried shallots and Violet Oon’s proprietary chilli sauce, this gooey, hulking cake is as photogenic as it is delicious.
For a comforting classic that’s straight from a Peranakan reunion dinner, the Nyonya Hee Peow soup — loaded with whole baby abalone, homemade prawn balls and a plethora of seafood goodness — will warm you from the inside out. Even the quintessential yu sheng gets a fragrant, tropical twist with the addition of kaffir lime leaves and piquant green mangoes.
For orders, visit Violet Oon Singapore’s website here.
04 | Grand Shanghai
‘Great Gatsby, but make it Asian’ might’ve well been the sales pitch for Grand Shanghai, with its East-meets-West Art Deco glam.
For the Lunar New Year, Grand Shanghai has eight different set menus for parties of varying sizes: The most opulent is the 9-course dinner for 10, promising a golden roasted boneless suckling pig, tenderly steamed eastern star Garoupa in superior soy sauce, and braised lobster noodles with truffle oil.
And if you’re the type of person that prefers tossing the lo hei to eating it, you’ll be pleased to know that Grand Shanghai furnishes their dish with Australian lobster and delicious homemade dressings.
Some of the private rooms even come with unblocked views of the performance stage, where nightly performances really make the extravagant mid-century atmosphere come to life.
For bookings, visit Grand Shanghai’s website here.
05 | Chopsuey
For the Chinese-impaired amongst us who sweat each time it’s their turn to say something during the lo hei, you’ll be relieved to know that Chopsuey has done the legwork for you. Along with their Lunar New Year set menus, each diner will be gifted an instructional leaflet for the lo hei, complete with suggested auspicious sayings to holler when you’re tossing the yu sheng (all, thankfully, annotated in pinyin).
Fusion doesn’t mean inferior, as Chopsuey’s ten-course menu proves: You’ll see once you crunch into a crispy orange beef rib or slurp up their hot and sour chicken soup. Everything here is comfortingly familiar while also being just slightly different — take the white pepper espresso ribs and crispy cod with chilli garlic sauce — but even staunch traditionalists will falter once they catch a whiff of the hearty Chef’s wok-fried claypot rice.
Dishes here are served all at once instead of course-by-course, so the lazy Susan will be a delightful whirl of aromas and colours from the many dishes. You’ll have great fun spooning dishes onto each other’s plates, play-fighting over who finishes what dish, and bonding over yummy food — like any good Chinese dinner.
For bookings, visit Chopsuey’s website here.