Chinese New Year is more than six weeks away, but anyone hoping to have reunion dinner in a restaurant on Feb 18 should book now. Many popular Chinese restaurants and zi char eateries are filling up quickly, with several fully booked.
Hua Ting Restaurant at Orchard Hotel has been fully booked for Chinese New Year Eve dinner since last July. About 40 per cent of its customers made reservations for this year when they were having reunion dinner last year.
Other fully booked places include Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant at Carlton Hotel, Yan Ting at The St Regis Singapore and zi char restaurant Keng Eng Kee in Alexandra Village.
Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel has tables only on its alfresco terrace. Wan Hao Cantonese Restaurant at Singapore Marriott Hotel is full for its first seating at 6pm and so is Jiang-nan Chun at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. Both have limited space for their second seatings.
All three hotels will also offer reunion dinners at their ballrooms. Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific Singapore is almost full, while about 90 per cent of the restaurants run by the TungLok Group are at capacity too.
Of the 45 restaurants SundayLife! spoke to, most say menu prices are up by between 5 and 25 per cent this year, due to the higher price of premium ingredients such as seafood and Chinese delicacies, as well as the rising cost of manpower.
Restaurants which need to hire more staff over the festive period to cope with the increased number of seatings say this also contributes to higher prices.
A spokesman for The Regent Singapore says the price of lobster and pea shoots has increased by about 10 per cent, while Tao Seafood Asia's owner Adrian Lee, 36, says the price of fish maw from New Zealand has jumped about 20 per cent since last year.
The price of bird's nest, mostly from Vietnam and Indonesia, has increased by 8 to 10 per cent, says Four Seasons Hotel director of food and beverage Lee Kelly.
Prices of such ingredients typically increase in the lead-up to Chinese New Year due to higher demand, as items such as fish maw and abalone are viewed as auspicious.
In addition to traditional offerings of seafood, lamb and mutton dishes also feature on many menus to coincide with the Chinese zodiac of the Goat. These include herbal tonic mutton soup, lamb shank, and lamb with sliced ginger and spring onion.
SundayLife! lists the restaurants that are filling up quickly, as well as other options such as Chinese, modern Asian and seafood restaurants, for the reunion dinner.
RESTAURANTS FILLING UP FAST
What: Themed 8 Rhapsodies Of Spring, new dishes on the festive menu include baked rack of lamb with deep-fried yam strips seasoned with truffle oil ($78.88, serves up to six diners); Flourishing Fortune, steamed black-eyed pea cake with golden pumpkin, Jinhua ham, dried shrimps and mushrooms ($38.88); and Prosperity And Smooth-sailing, goat-shaped deep-fried glutinous rice with minced pork and mushroom ($9.88 for three).
Where: Keppel Club, Bukit Chermin Road, Peony Jade Function Hall; Block 3A Clarke Quay, 02-02
When: On the eve at both outlets: 6.15 to 7.30pm, 8.30 to 10.30pm; 4.30 to 5.30pm (Keppel Club outlet only). Open throughout Chinese New Year.
Info: Call 6276-9138 (Keppel Club) or 6338-0305 (Clarke Quay)