From budget to luxe, 6 pencai to order for reunion dinner this Chinese New Year

PHOTO: Tunglok

Pencai, or poon choy in Cantonese (which when translated means "basin dish"), is a wonder pot, full of decadent Chinese New Year delicacies that range from abalone and dried oysters to sea cucumber and fish maw.

The dish, which dates back to the Song Dynasty, has become increasingly popular in Singapore over the last decade. In fact, it is now a staple for the auspicious season.

Essentially, the pot includes braised dried seafood, roast meats and stewed vegetables, ladled with a rich and thick oyster sauce and stock-based gravy.

Here are six pencai offerings to whet your appetite.


Heavenly Treasure BowlPhoto: Tunglok

Heavenly Treasure Bowl

The pencai from restaurants under the TungLok Group umbrella comprises 16 premium ingredients including shark's fin, six-head abalone,dried scallops, fish maw, sea cucumber, dried oysters, pork shank, barramundi fillet, live prawns, smoked duck breast, shiitake mushrooms and more.

There are also treasure pots with less ingredients as well as vegetarian options.

Where: All TungLok restaurants including TungLok Tea House, Far East Square, 01-01; Tung Lok Signatures at Orchard Parade Hotel, VivoCity, The Central and Changi City Point; and Tung Lok Xihe Peking Duck at The Grandstand and Orchard Central.

Pencai is not available at Tong Le Private Dining, Ruyi, Dancing Crab and Dancing Crab Shack, and Slappy Cakes. Vegetarian pencai is available only at Ling Zhi Vegetarian.

When: Jan 3 to Feb 11. Orders placed before Jan 15 receive an early bird discount of 15 per cent off.

Price: $368++ for six people; $568++ for 10 people

Info: For the full list of outlets and relevant contact details, go to this page.


Lobster and Abalone Fortune PotPhoto: Sheraton Towers

Lobster and Abalone Fortune Pot

The Lobster and Abalone Fortune Pot comes with a medley of premium delicacies including abalone, mushrooms and lobster. It is served in a claypot which keeps the food warm and allows for hassle-free reheating at home.

Where: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant, Sheraton Towers Singapore, 39 Scotts Road

When: Jan 11 to Feb 11. Order two working days in advance.

Price: $398

Info: Call 6839-5623. Go to this website for more information.


Deluxe Pen CaiPhoto: Orchard Hotel

Deluxe Pen Cai

Orchard Hotel's popular Cantonese restaurant Hua Ting is dishing out its signature Deluxe Pen Cai pot which includes delicacies from abalone and sea cucumber to fish maw and mushrooms.

Where: Hua Ting Restaurant, Orchard Hotel Singapore, 442 Orchard Road, Level 2

When: Jan 9 to Feb 11. Order at least three days in advance.

Price: $328 for small portion enough for about six people; $598 for an eight- to 10-person portion

Info: Call 6739-6666 or e-mail


Blossoming Abalone Treasures PotPhoto: Peach Blossoms / Marina Mandarin Singapore

Blossoming Abalone Treasures Pot

The pencai from Peach Blossoms at Marina Mandarin Singapore comes with fish maw, live prawns, 10-head whole abalone, sea cucumber, dried oysters, mushrooms and dried scallops, as well as roasted meats and various types of vegetable.

Where: Peach Blossoms, Marina Mandarin Singapore, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Level 5

When: Jan 6 Feb 11. Order at least three days in advance

Price: $318+ for a five-person portion, $568+ for a 10-person portion

Info: Call 6845- 1118 or e-mail For more information, go to this.


Prosperity Treasure Hot PotPhoto: House of Roasted Duck

Prosperity Treasure Hot Pot

House of Roasted Duck's pencai includes ingredients such as roast duck, soy sauce chicken, roasted pork, barbecued pork and eight other auspicious ingredients such as abalone, cabbage, duck web, duck wing, fatt choy and mushrooms.

Where: House Of Roasted Duck, two outlets - Bugis Village, 233 Victoria Street; and Sultan Plaza, 100 Jalan Sultan, 01-08

When: Jan 16 to Feb 12. Order at least three days in advance for collection on the eve of Chinese New Year. For collection on other days, order at least one working day in advance

Price: $148.80++

Info: Call 6339-6817 (Bugis Village); 6297-5490 (Sultan Plaza) or go to this website.


Auspicious Treasure PotPhoto: NEO GARDEN

Auspicious Treasure Pot

Catering group Neo Garden's pencai comprises delicacies including sea cucumber, abalone and dried scallop, as well as various types of mushroom, roast duck, fried chicken thigh, fatt choy and lotus root.

Where: Neo Garden, 1 Enterprise Road

When: Jan 9 to Feb 12. Order five days in advance to avoid disappointment.

Price: $198+ for a six-person portion; $288+ for a 10-person portion

Info: Call 6896-7757 or go to this website.

Pen Cai: One-pot wonders for CNY

  • It is a dish which accepts almost any ingredient.

    Just drop all of it - from canned abalones to leftover chicken - into the pot, add a bit more water or oyster sauce, and voila, you have one version of the pen cai.

    The only prerequisite for a good pen cai is that it has to be full-flavoured and served warm, savoured with rice. Here are some that The New Paper's Yeoh Wee Teck enjoyed eating.

  • Silk Road at Amara Singapore is offering the Prosperity Treasure Pen Cai at $428 (serves up to 15).

    They also serve a vegetarian pen cai (from $188). Call 6879-2607 to order.

  • New seafood restaurant Cove99 has a pen cai that turned out to be very good.

    Its Premium Treasure Pot Pencai ($388 for a large portion) has a sauce that is pale in colour, resembling an auspicious shade of gold, thanks to a collagen-rich golden broth. The ingredients, however, remain traditional.

    It is available till March 5. Call 6224-0991 to order.

    Cove99 is located at 72 Peck Seah Street.

  • One of the best pen cai I've tasted comes from the woefully underrated Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant (Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium).

    The Xin traditional pen cai ($368 for 10) has the right mix of ingredients, with a sauce that isn't too salty, and liberal amounts of cabbage and yam.

    Call 6731-7173 to order.

    You're eligible for a 15 per cent discount if you order the pen cai to go and use a Citibank, DBS, UOB or OCBC credit card to pay. This is valid till March 5.

  • Carlton Hotel's Wah Lock Cantonese Restaurant serves the Prosperity Poon Choy, a three-layer dish that features ingredients such as whole abalone, sea cucumber and scallops.

    It'll set you back $688 for a 10-person portion and will be available from Sunday to March 5. Call 6311-8170 to order.

  • Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific Singapore has two pen cais for you to choose from: The Blossoming Prosperity Pen Cai is at $368 (for six, with a dozen ingredients such as abalone, pork knuckles and deer tendon) while The Golden Opulence Pen Cai feeds 10 for $628.

    It comes with 15 ingredients, such as fish maw, goose web and black moss. Each order comes with a complimentary Koi Fish Nian Gao.

    To order, call 6826- 8240. It's available till March 5.

  • Shang Palace's (Shangri- La Hotel, Singapore) Abundance Treasure Pot ($338, feeds eight) starts with a base of pork bones, duck, dried scallops and chicken.

    Premium ingredients such as top shell, sea clam and stewed duck are then added, creating impressive flavours.

    Call 6213-4448 to order.

  • While Peony Jade also has a pen cai on offer, you might want to consider its Prosperity Wealth Braised Duck ($108.88).

    The duck is braised with lotus seeds and fresh chestnuts. It's savoury with pops of sweetness from the chestnuts. Serve this with rice and it'll be the perfect Chinese New Year meal.

    To order, call any of Peony Jade's two outlets at 6375-5562 (Keppel Club) or 6338-0305 (Clarke Quay).

This article was first published on Jan 5, 2016.
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