Yusheng - without fish

Yusheng - without fish

Pastry chef Pang Kok Keong's two daughters enjoy tossing yusheng during Chinese New Year but the six- and seven- year-olds do not fancy the shredded greens and are squeamish about eating raw fish slices.

The chief operating office of the Sugar Daddy Group, which owns French patisserie chain Antoinette, says: "As traditional yusheng is mostly made up of vegetables, the girls don't enjoy eating it, but they like tossing the salad."

That inspired him to create a yusheng which can be enjoyed by his family of five and the idea of a dessert version was hatched late last year.

The Queen's Yusheng from Antoinette is a large chocolate egg filled with fresh fruit. The egg is nestled on a bed of auspicious-looking chocolates and confections. Instead of a meal- opener, this yusheng is meant to be cracked open with a wooden mallet at the end of a meal.

Antoinette is part of a growing number of non-Chinese restaurants offering unconventional takes on yusheng.

Some of these unorthodox versions cannot even be called raw fish salad because they do not feature fish.

The festive platters have also ventured into fusion cuisine territory, with at least 10 restaurants, spanning cuisines such as Belgian, French, Korean and Spanish, offering yusheng this year.

Sync Korean Fusion Bistro with two outlets in Serangoon Garden and Jurong East is making its yusheng debut, for instance.

Its version has Korean ingredients such as kimchi and myoga (ginger bud). The fish used is sea bream, which has a firmer bite than salmon.

Its chef, Ms Calister Ong, says: "We wanted to showcase Korean ingredients in this yusheng, which is inspired by the traditional yusheng and Korean water sashimi, which is a dish of raw fish, fruit and seaweed served on crushed ice."

Also making its debut is the suckling pig salad at Una restaurant in Rochester Park. Slices of the roasted pork and wafer-thin pork crackling replace raw fish and fried flour crisps.

Chef Jean-Philippe Patruno says: "This dish marries Chinese and Spanish cultures by using an iconic Spanish dish and pairing it with symbolic ingredients, such as pomelo."

French restaurant Cocotte at the Wanderlust Hotel in Little India decided to bring back its yusheng, which has smoked duck or poached lobster, after receiving positive response from diners when it was introduced last year.

A restaurant spokesman says: "Our regulars appreciated the opportunity to bask in the festivities with a yusheng that complemented French cuisine.

"Based on last year's response and the number of order queries this year, we hope to sell more than 150 sets this year."

For Cajun-style seafood restaurant Dancing Crab in The Grandstand in Turf Club Road, the difference lies in the tossing of its Dancing Yusheng.

Instead of chopsticks, diners can toss Alaskan King crab leg meat, smoked salmon and greens by hand with plastic gloves.

The restaurant serves seafood boils which diners eat with their hands.

Its general manager, Mr Norman Hartono, says: "It is common for diners to have yusheng three to four times a week during the festive season, why not give them a fun experience and watch the ingredients 'dance' around too?"

Diners such as customer experience manager Max Chiang, 34 are excited by the wider varieties of yusheng.

He says he has at least 10 lohei sessions every year, and adds: "Yusheng was created in Singapore, so I applaud local restaurants for carrying on this tradition and finding innovative ways to lohei."


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