Tasty takeouts for your reunion feast
MOST restaurants would already be fully booked for the eve of Chinese New Year by now, so if you do not want the hassle of cooking your own reunion dinner, the best bet would be takeaways that taste just as good at home.
31 Ocean Way, Quayside Isle, #01-13, Tel: 6339-0880
This new kid on the Chinese-restaurant block has a small but solid range of takeaway items, from Spanish-style roast suckling pig to newfangled yusheng that has you tossing sweet marinated cherry tomatoes and smoked salmon in a mountain of shredded greens, deep-fried silver bait and crisp salmon skin, with lemon-honey dressing.
The yusheng ($68/$98) is a creation of chef Emmanuel Stroobant, and is one of the few non-Chinese versions of yusheng that tastes enough like the real thing but still offers a nice twist.
Same with the suckling pig ($188), which is air dried and has a thinner layer of fat than usual. The crisp skin stays that way for a good three hours or so.
Bar Roque Bar & Grill
For takeaways, order at www.barroque.com.sg or at 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-00, Tel: 6444-9672
He's not Chinese, but that's not stopping French chef Stephane Istel from putting his own spin on the reunion dinner.
He's even got his own yusheng ($88), which is like a giant salad of shredded carrot, celery, candied walnuts and crisp lotus-root chips in ginger-sesame dressing.
But if you'd rather bet on a sure thing, then you can't go wrong with his rotisserie duck ($98), with its delicate honey and five-spice fragrance, juicy meat with light-crisp skin, and perfectly roasted tender butternut squash on the side.
Sichuan Dou Hua Restaurant
PARKROYAL on Beach Road, Tel: 6505-5722
PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road, Tel: 6428-3170
TOP of UOB Plaza, Tel: 6535-6006
One of the best suckling-pig dishes in town can be found in Sichuan Dou Hua, and if you never thought of having it at home because you're worried about losing the crispiness, this version holds up pretty well even when cold.
Priced at $258, you get the whole animal sliced in neat, juicy pieces and re-assembled into shape, with crisp skin, a thick layer of fat (unfortunately, for the health-conscious) and juicy meat.
Also excellent is the fried glutinous rice with waxed meat, which offers different levels of chewiness and crunch in a claypot. The rice is part of the restaurant's takeaway-dinner set menu, priced at $380 for four to six people or $580 for eight to 10.
Block 3A Clarke Quay #02-02, Tel: 6338-0305
Bukit Chermin Road, Keppel Club, Tel: 6276-9138
Peony Jade's lychee-roasted duck ($48.88 for half/$78.88 for whole) hits you first with its deep-yet-delicate fruity scent and then, juicy meat that's accented with a sweet-savoury lychee sauce or regular brown gravy.
The thick chunks of meat are moist and don't dry out quickly, and there's a top note of lychee that lingers as you chomp down.
Also pretty ingenious is its suckling pig ($238), which takes its cue from Peking duck and is served in slices atop a layer of savoury glutinous rice and light chewy pancake.
Orchard Hotel Singapore, Tel: 6739-6666
If the celebratory yusheng usually fills you up before you start digging into your reunion meal proper, Hua Ting has come up with an alternative that will satisfy your tossing requirements, but still leave room in your tummy.
Its healthy fresh-fruit-and-seasonal-greens yusheng ($48 for small/$88 for large) offers sweetness from shredded, chilled sweet melons, salad greens, familiar garnishes and crispy crackers, all tossed together in a mild, mustardy dressing that is light and refreshing.
If you want to luxe it up, opt for the version that comes with a generous amount of thinly sliced toro sashimi ($208 for small/$388 for large).
Grand Hyatt Singapore, Tel: 6732-1234
Chinese cuisine gets a modern twist with mezza9's creations, such as sustainable yusheng ($48 to $98) featuring the traditional toss-up with South Australian yellowtail kingfish and Irish organic Atlantic salmon.
The classic salad is refreshing and sweet, with the clean flavours of the eco-friendly fish upping the appeal. A nice change from the norm comes from the plump Spencer Gulf prawn and Canadian scallop dumpling in an Oriental-style pumpkin soup ($28 a portion).
Other creations include lemongrass roast duck with turmeric sauce ($38/$72) and homemade steamed spinach tofu with black moss and wolfberry ($32).
Goodwood Park Hotel, Tel: 6730-1704
No. 5 Rochester Park, Tel: 6774-0122
This faithful fallback whenever you want a fuss-free reunion has come up with a couple of new entrants this year. One of them is the braised chicken with sea treasures in claypot ($198), which features a whole steamed chicken and pork belly braised in Zhuhou sauce, oyster sauce and wine for up to seven hours.
The juices and gravy are thickened and assembled with abalone, dried oysters and mushrooms before being cooked for another hour. The result? Melt-in-the-mouth meat and tender abalone in a thick, intense gravy.