The time of the year where family members gather for their annual Chinese New Year celebration is just around the corner.
In Singapore, the festive season is not complete without traditional dishes like yu sheng, steamboat, abalone, fish maw and other Chinese delicacies. Of late, a new Chinese New Year dish called “pen cai”, also known as “poon choy” in Cantonese or “Big Bowl Feast” is becoming a hit here. In fact it is so commonly eaten these days it can rival other popular traditional Chinese New Year favourites.
Originally from Hong Kong, pen cai, which literally means ‘vegetables in a basin’, is an indulgent affair where layers of ingredients are braised in a fragrant gravy. Customarily eaten during Chinese New Year, this festive casserole hotpot dish symbolises prosperity and abundance.
This year, pen cai is on the menu of many hotels and restaurants, and chefs have prepared different types of pen cai such as seafood, meat and vegetarian version to please us. We suss out some of the best pen cai in town for you and your family to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.
Heavenly Pot of Gold EDITOR’S PICK!
Where to indulge: SzeChuan Court, Fairmont Singapore
Price: $408++ (serves 4 to 6 persons) / $688++ (serves 10 persons) / $68++ per additional person
Availability: Dine-in and take-away. From 13 January to 6 February 2012.
What’s in the pot: If you prefer a little fiery kick in your fortune pot, Szechuan Court’s “Heavenly Pot of Gold” will definitely satisfy your taste buds. This luscious feast brims with auspicious delicacies including 6-head abalone, fish belly, sea cucumber, dried scallop, whelk clam, dried oyster, king oyster, homemade meat ball, bamboo pit, black fungus, lotus root, dried beancurd skin, radish, wheat gluten, pumpkin, cabbage and Chinese wild yam. The broth is rich, flavourful and has a spicy undertone. It is delicious but be prepared to pay a little extra for quality. We hope it brings as much prosperity as its auspicious name suggests.
Deluxe Treasure Pot MOST INGREDIENTS
Where to indulge: Man Fu Yuan, InterContinental Hotel
Price: $358 for 5 persons
Availability: Dine-in and take-away. From now till 6 February 2012.
What’s in the pot: If you think 16 or 18 ingredients in a pot are a lot to consume, wait till you see what’s boiling in Man Fu Yuan’s deluxe treasure pot. Executive Chef Chan Siu Kong managed to stuff 26 premium delights like whole baby abalone, sea cucumber, shark’s fin, fish maw, goose web, pig’s trotter, prawn, scallop, dried oyster, flower mushroom, dace fish ball, sea moss, white radish, beancurd skin, roasted duck, preserved meat sausage, liver sausage, black fungus, fried yam, cabbage, braised chicken wing, sea kelp, eel, wolfberries, sea whelk and cuttlefish in a specially-designed claypot. The restaurant also throws in a complimentary yu sheng to complete your lunar New Year celebration. This is definitely a treasure pot worth exploring.
Red House Special Treasure Pot
Where to indulge: Red House Seafood Restaurants
Price: $238 for 6 persons; $398 for 10 persons
Availability: Dine-in and take-away at both The Quayside and East Coast outlets from 8 January to 6 February 2012.
What’s in the pot: This festive dish is filled with supreme whole abalone, sea cucumber, dried oyster, live prawn, dried Japanese scallop, roast chicken, mushroom, cuttlefish ball, black moss, yam and Chinese cabbage. During the festive season, Red House is giving away complimentary salmon yu sheng and fried rice in lotus leaf for every order of the treasure pot for 6 persons and 10 persons. Be prepared to indulge in some of the freshest and most sumptuous seafood in this special pen cai.
Vegetarian Treasure Pot
Where to indulge: Crystal Jade
Price: $138.80 for 6 pax; $188.80 for 10 pax
Availability: Dine-in and take-away. From 26 December. Diners can order takeaways three days in advance and collect their orders at selected Crystal Jade outlets.
What’s in the pot: Crystal Jade has created a healthy alternative to the traditional pen cai. Filled with a variety of fresh greens and vegetarian meats made of soy or wheat protein, this healthy pot of goodness will be a big hit with non-meat diners. The treasure pot overflows with vegetarian versions of abalone, goose, chicken, fish ball, lotus root, dried beancurd skin, dried soya beancurd, fresh mushroom, Chinese celery, bamboo pith, dried mushroom, white cabbage, gluten as well as radish, yam and black moss.
Prosperity Poon Choy
Where to indulge: Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant, Carlton Hotel
Price: $418 for 6 persons; $518 for 8 persons; $618 for 10 persons
Availability: Dine-in and take away. From now till 5 Feb 2012.
What’s in the pot: Treat yourself and your loved ones to this prosperity pot filled with premium ingredients such as suckling pig, sea cucumber, fish maw, dried oyster, deer sinew, top shell, braised duck, soya chicken, prawn, fish ball, mushroom, “Tian Jin” cabbage, radish and yam. This year, Executive Chef Ng Wai Tong added deer tendons to the dish. We were told that deer tendons are good for bone strengthening and joint support. So not only will this dish bring you good luck but also keep you in good health.
Paradise Fortune Pot
Where to indulge: Paradise Group of Chinese restaurants (Seafood Paradise, Paradise Inn, Taste Paradise, Paradise Dynasty, KungFu Paradise, Paradise Pavilion and Canton Paradise).
Price: $198 for Regular (up to 5 pax) and $388 for Large (up to 10 pax)
Availability: Dine-in and take-away. From 9 January to 6 February 2012.
What’s in the pot: Created by award-winning Group Executive Chef Fung Chi Keung, the sumptuous casserole is filled with 16 delightful ingredients such as superior whole abalone, Japanese sea cucumber, Japanese dried scallop, dried oyster, premium fish maw and dried mushroom to impress the most discerning diner.
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