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Give a toss for luck

SundayLife! finds the most innovative yusheng, the festive must-have that has seen more than a twist or two in recent years. -ST

Tue, Feb 12, 2013
The Straits Times

Yusheng is the one dish that never goes out of fashion during Chinese New Year.

The traditional raw fish salad, which has taken on many forms and variations over the years, is a customary dish shared at festive celebrations where diners usually stand up to "toss" the salad with chopsticks, while rattling off auspicious phrases.

In fact, the higher you toss the better, as that signifies wealth and prosperity, while spilling salad outside the dish is akin to an overflowing abundance of good fortune.

Popular idioms and proverbs that accompany the lo hei or tossing ritual include nian nian you yu, which means to have abundance and surplus year after year; tian tian mi mi, to welcome a honeyed year ahead; bu bu gao sheng, which means to progress with every step; and wan shi ru yi, for success and favourable circumstances.

There has been debate over the years as to the true origins of the dish. One camp says it originated in Singapore back in 1964, created by the Four Heavenly Kings of the nation's restaurant scene then: chefs Hooi Kok Wai, Sin Leong, the late Tham Mui Kai and the late Lau Yoke Pui. Still, others say it dates as far back as the 1920s and 1930s, and yet another camp is adamant the dish belongs to Malaysia.

Traditionally, the salad usually includes carrot, radish and pickled ginger as well as other ingredients such as pomelo, candied tangerine peel, peanuts and sesame seeds.

Thin slices of raw fish are then seasoned with condiments such as five spice powder and pepper, and freshly squeezed lime juice, before being added to the mound of colourful vegetables. Oil and plum sauce are poured over the ingredients, followed by the addition of crunchy golden crackers.

And no item is there for show - each has a significance behind it. For instance, five spice power and pepper represent good fortune, and the crackers symbolise roads paved with gold.

These days, there are many types of yusheng, ranging from new-fangled variations that include dressings made with fruit juice and fruit puree, to ones topped with roast meats instead of fish. There is even an Indian variation by Punjab Grill at Marina Bay Sands that features chaat or Indian snacks, and tandoori chicken.

Most of the time, the basic elements, such as carrot, radish, nuts and spices, are part of the dish and it is the other ingredients that vary.

Japanese versions of yusheng, for example, are made with different types of seaweed, while yusheng at Western restaurants tend to include salad greens such as radicchio and mesclun. Other toppings include crispy salmon skin, deep fried whitebait, lightly battered enoki mushrooms and fried lotus root chips, instead of, or in addition to, crackers.

Yusheng has also gone more upmarket of late, with the inclusion of more expensive and luxurious seafood such as geoduck, lobster, abalone and otoro or tuna belly. To usher in the Year of the Snake this year, several restaurants, including Peach Blossoms at Marina Mandarin and Peony Jade at Keppel Club, are also including unagi or eel in their yusheng, as eel resembles a snake.

Restaurants such as Carousel at Royal Plaza On Scotts are opting for snakehead fish, as well as other auspicious "snake" ingredients (right) including snakegourd and snakeskin fruit.

With the plethora of yusheng choices out there, of which most will be available till Feb 24 (unless otherwise stated), there is certainly no shortage of options for diners.

For those who cannot remember the auspicious phrases, just holler for prosperity by shouting: "Huat ah!"

rltan@sph.com.sg

Yusheng in fancy shapes

Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant

What: The Cantonese restaurant has a variety of yusheng options including a koi-shaped yusheng platter (main picture). Toppings include salmon, ikan parang, abalone, scallop and crispy salmon skin. A vegetarian yusheng is also available. Prices start at $45 for a small portion.

Where: Sheraton Towers Singapore, 39 Scotts Road, lower lobby level

Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily. On Sundays, it serves dim sum from 10.30am to 2.30pm.

Info: Call 6839-5623

Carousel

What: Feast on the beautiful Treasures Of Spring Yu Sheng (from $88 for four to six people), which features fresh snakehead fish slices arranged in the shape of a snake.

The refreshing yusheng includes ingredients such as pickled snakegourd and snakeskin fruit, vegetables and Japanese seaweed, crispy salmon skin, crunchy silverfish and thin lotus root chips, all tossed in a citrusy yuzu and kumquat dressing. Available for both dine-in and takeaway

Where: Royal Plaza On Scotts, 25 Scotts Road

Open: Noon to 2pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily. It is also open for breakfast, 6.30am to 10pm, and afternoon tea, 3.30 to 5.30pm. Orders should be made at least three days in advance. Last orders must be placed by noon on Feb 22.

Info: Call 6589-7788 (11am to 9pm) or e-mail gourmet@royalplaza.com.sg.

Hilton Singapore

What: The celebratory Fortune Coin yusheng (right), which serves 30 people and features Chinese characters, takes four to five hours to prepare. Indulge in slivers of whole fresh lobster, tuna and two-head abalone.

The yusheng also comes with gold flakes and truffle oil, and is tossed in a special plum sauce made of fruit, Taiwanese plum juice and sesame sauce. It is priced at $528++ a serving and is available for order only when diners opt for a dine-in prosperity banquet menu.

Where: Hilton Singapore, 581 Orchard Road, function and banquet rooms.

Open: Dining hours depend on bookings.

Info: Call 6730-3269 for reservations. The yusheng must be ordered at least three days in advance

Peony Jade

What: The Duo Of Ever-Growing Wealth Fa-Cai Unagi And Atlantic Salmon Bountiful Lo-Hei Yusheng (right) comes shaped in a figure eight. It features ingredients such as salmon, unagi or eel, premium two-head Australian abalone, sweet prawns and lobster.

YUSHENG WITH SEAFOOD

Hai Tien Lo

What: The yusheng platter (right) here is served with surf clam and Norwegian salmon. Other variations include Hokkaido scallop, abalone and lobster. Prices start at $48++ a portion.

Where: Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Level 3

Open: Noon to 2.30pm and 6.30 to 10.30pm daily. Dim sum is served on weekends and public holidays from 11.30am to 2.30pm.

Info: Call 6826-8240

Mezza9

What: The fish for the yusheng here, which includes yellowtail kingfish, Irish organic salmon and red snapper fish, have been harvested sustainably. The raw fish salad is available in three different sizes - $48++ for two people, $78++ for four people and $98++ for six people.

Where: Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road, mezzanine level

Open: Noon to 3pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 11.30am to 3pm (Sundays) and 6 to 11pm, daily

Info: Call 6732-1234 or e-mail mezza9.sg @hyatt.com

Peach Blossoms

What: Unagi or eel yusheng takes centrestage here. The eel is marinated with honey, garlic and superior light soya sauce before being roasted for eight minutes. The unagi yusheng is served with a Hong Kong-style sesame dressing and is priced at $68+ (for four to six people) and $118+ (for 10 people).

Where: Marina Mandarin Singapore, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square

Open: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 11am to 2.30pm (weekends) and 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily.

Info: Call 6845-1118

Tien Court

What: There are options for yusheng with lobster, caviar, salmon and abalone. Prices start at $49.80.

Where: Copthorne King's Hotel Singapore, 403 Havelock Road

Open: Noon to 2.30pm and 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily.

Info: Call 6318-3193 or 6318-3198, or e-mail tiencourt@copthornekings.com.sg

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant

What: The restaurant is offering yusheng (right) with slices of fresh water empurau. It is priced at $228++ (for two to six people) with 60g of empurau fillet, and $328++ (for seven to 12 people) with 120g of empurau fillet. An additional serving of sliced empurau (60g) is priced at $188++. There are also other types of yusheng including one with Chinese black truffles and salmon.

Where: Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, 01-10

Open: 11.45am to 2.30pm (weekdays), 11.30am to 2.30pm (weekends) and 5.45 to 9.30pm daily. The restaurant is closed today and reopens tomorrow.

Info: Call 6604-6604 or e-mail reservations@ majesticbay.sg.

Mandarin Court

What: Its prosperity yusheng is topped with roselle, a flower from the hibiscus family, and seafood such as lobster and abalone, and fish such as ikan parang and crispy fish skin. Prices start at $48 a portion.

Where: Mandarin Orchard Singapore, 333 Orchard Road

Open: Noon to 2.30pm and 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily

Info: Call 6831-6288 or 6831-6262

Szechuan Court

What: The Bountiful Oceanic Treasures yusheng (right) features seafood, including Boston lobster, Australian salmon and abalone, swordfish and crispy eel skin. A portion for 10 people is priced at $288++.

Where: Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road

Open: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), noon to 3pm (weekends and public holidays) and 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily

Info: Call 6431-6156

GO FOR THESE IF YOU DO NOT LIKE FISH

Min Jiang

What: Chinese restaurant Min Jiang has meat and fruit lo hei options for those who want something other than raw fish. One is a roast duck with mixed salad and fruit ($108 for large), which includes shredded roast duck, mesclun, jelly fish and fruit such as pear, mango and rock melon. It is served with a peanut-plum mayonnaise dressing with spicy Tabasco. Available only at Min Jiang Goodwood Park.

The other non-fish option is the Assorted Fruits With Chicken And Duck Lo Hei ($68 for small, $118 for large, right). It consists of roast duck, poached chicken and fruit such as honeydew, rock melon, pear and mango, as well as slivers of crunchy you tiao. Available only at Min Jiang One-North.

Where: Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road and One-North, 5 Rochester Park

Open: 11am to 2.30pm and 6 to 10pm daily

Info: Call 6730-1704 (Goodwood) or 6774-0122 (One-North)

NOODLE PLACE RESTAURANT

What: The Fortune Smoked Duck Yu Sheng (right) includes slices of smokey roast duck and other ingredients such as peanuts, sesame seeds as well as shredded white and green radish. It is priced at $19.80++ for a small portion and $33.80++ for a large one.

Where: The Centrepoint, 176 Orchard Road, 01-53/56

Open: 10am to 9.45pm daily, closed today and tomorrow. Business resumes on Tuesday

Info: Call 6733-3171 or go to www.pfs.com.sg

HALAL YUSHENG

Earle Swensen's

What: Swensen's halal eatery Earle Swensen's is dishing out smoked salmon yusheng (right) instead of the usual raw fish. It features fresh vegetables and a sweet and sour plum sauce dressing. It is priced at $23.80 (dine-in) and $26.80 (takeaway). The yusheng is also available at all Swensen's outlets islandwide.

Where: Earle Swensen's, VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, 02-117, tel: 6272-3306, and Changi Airport Terminal 3, Viewing Mall Central, Level 4, tel: 6443-7123

Open: Both outlets are open from 10.30am to 10.30pm daily

Info: Go to www.swensens.com.sg

EXOTIC YUSHENG

JAPANESE

Ito-Kacho

What: The Japanese-inspired yusheng (right) here includes marinated seaweed and jellyfish, tobiko and fried lotus root chips. It is topped with thin slices of raw flounder, grated yuzu and a dressing of plum sauce and apple puree. From $68 a serving.

Where: 333A Orchard Road, 04-08

Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6 to 11pm (weekdays), 11.30am to 11pm (Saturdays) and 11.30am to 10pm (Sundays)

Info: Call 6836-0111

Sushi Tei

What: The family-friendly Japanese restaurant chain is offering a special Create Your Own yusheng. The vegetables are priced at $24.80 a serving. Diners can then add a choice of three type of fish: salmon ($12.80), mekajiki or swordfish ($18), or hamachi or yellowtail ($20). A selection of all three types of fish costs $20.

Where: Outlets islandwide including Holland Village, 3 Lorong Liput, 01-08, tel: 6463-2310; Serangoon Gardens, 64/64A Serangoon Garden Way, tel: 6283-7117; Bedok Point, 799 New Upper Changi Road, 02-05/09, tel: 6242-3323; and VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, 02-152/153, tel: 6376-9591.

Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily. All the outlets are closed today and tomorrow. Business resumes on Tuesday.

Info: Go to www.sushitei.com

Kuriya Dining

What: The luxe yusheng (right) here comprises steamed Japanese abalone, snow crab meat, salmon roe, scallop, yellowtail, tuna belly and shark's fin sprinkled with gold leaf. Choose between a soya sauce-based Japanese dressing with apple vinegar or a traditional plum sauce dressing. Priced at $238 a portion (serves four).

Where: Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, 01-28, Office Tower

Open: 11.30am to 2.15pm and 6 to 10pm daily. The restaurant is closed today and will resume business tomorrow at noon.

Info: Call 6736-0888 or e-mail dining@kuriya. com.sg. Pre-order the yusheng when you make your reservation.

THAI

Thanying

What: Usher in the new year with Thai-style salmon yusheng (right) with ingredients such as pomelo, green mango, garlic flower and kaffir lime leaves. It is drizzled with sweet plum sauce, as well as a mildly spicy garlic, lime and chilli sauce. Prices start at $68 a serving. Other options include one topped with abalone (from $98 a serving) as well as a vegetarian yusheng (from $68 a serving). These are available for both dine-in and takeaway.

Where: Amara Singapore, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road and Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, 1 Larkhill Road, Sentosa

Open: 11am to 3pm and 6.30 to 10pm, daily, closed today. Business resumes tomorrow.

Info: Call 6222-4688 (Amara Singapore) or 6825-3881 (Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa)

INDIAN

Punjab Grill

What: Fine Indian restaurant Punjab Grill is dishing out Chaat Yusheng ($28). It includes various chaat crisps or popular Indian snacks, which are combined with a date-tamarind chutney and a hint of plum sauce. A choice of tandoori chicken or smoked salmon can be added to the salad.

Where: The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Bayfront Avenue, Galleria Level, B1-01A

Open: 11.30am to 3.30pm and 6.30 to 11pm daily. The yusheng is available only from today till Tuesday.

Info: Call 6688-7395

KOREAN

Todai

What: The international buffet restaurant, which offers sushi and Korean items, is offering yusheng with king crab legs. Prices start at $48++ a serving.

Where: B2-01, The Shoppes @ Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue, tel: 6688-7771

Open: 11.30am to 3pm and 5.30 to 10pm (weekdays), 11.30am to 3pm and 5 to 10.30pm (Saturdays) and 11.30am to 10.30pm (Sundays)

Info: Call 6688-7771 or go to www.todai.com.sg

FRENCH

Saint Pierre

What: Saint Pierre's version comprises sashimi of tuna loin with cured hamachi, fresh langoustine on a bed of baby carrots, green and white radish, shallot and peanut dressing ($18 a person, minimum of four people). It is available till Feb 28, after which the restaurant will be closing.

Where: 3 Magazine Road, 01-01, Central Mall

Open: Noon to 3pm (weekdays), 7 to midnight (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays

Info: Call 6438-0887 or go to www.saintpierre. com.sg

AMERICAN

BJ'S American Diner

What: Tuck into burgers alongside an American fusion yusheng. It is offering two types of yusheng - one with thinly sliced Scottish smoked salmon and the other with Alaskan king crab leg (from $40 for a small portion of salmon yusheng, serves four).

Where: 312 Balestier Road, at the corner of Kim Keat Road

Open: 11.30am to 11.30pm (Tuesdays to Sundays) and closed on Mondays. Last order for food is at 11pm. The restaurant is closed today but reopens for business tomorrow.

Info: Call 6252-6225 or go to www.bjbalestier.com or its Facebook page

CONTEMPORARY YUSHENG

Where: Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road, off Telok Blangah Road, level M

Open: 11am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm (weekdays), 10.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 11pm (weekends).

Info: Call 6276-9138

Forest

What: Celebrity chef Sam Leong has created a yusheng (above) with plenty of crunch and refreshing citrusy flavours. It features salmon, fried shredded yam strips, crunchy rice vermicelli and crispy white bait for extra crunch.

The dressing is a combination of yuzu sauce and peanut oil instead of plum sauce. The yusheng starts at $78++ for a two- to four-person serving. Diners can also add geoduck and Australian lobster at an additional charge of $68++.

Where: Equarius Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa, Sentosa Gateway, lobby level

Open: Noon to 2.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays) and 6 to 10.30pm, daily. It serves brunch on Sundays from 11.30am to 4pm and is also open from breakfast from 7.30 to 10.30am, daily.

Info: Call 6577-8899 or e-mail reservations@rwsentosa.com

Chef Daniel's Kitchen

What: The modern Asian restaurant located at the rooftop garden at Bugis+ is offering yusheng with a special home-made dressing of tomato, apple and lime juice, as well as chilli and plum sauce and dash of sesame oil.

Where: Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street, 07-04 to 07

Open: 11.30am to 3pm and 6 to 11pm daily. The restaurant is closed today and reopens tomorrow.

Info: Call 6509-9888 or go to www.chefdaniels kitchen.com

Ku De Ta

What: Toss the auspicious salad and take in the view of the city from Ku De Ta at the SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands. The yusheng (right) here comes with toasted nuts, kizami nori, candied yuzu skin, crunchy vegetable slaw and plum sauce.

The yusheng is part of Chinese New Year set menu which is priced at $158 a person, for a minimum of two people.

Where: SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, 1 Bayfront Avenue, North Tower

Open: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 11pm, daily. Brunch is available on weekends from 10am to 3pm. Chinese New Year offerings will be available till Feb 28.

Info: Call 6688-7688

TOSS IT WITH FRUIT

Peach Blossoms

What: Opt for a tropical fruit yusheng (right) with passionfruit, mango, jackfruit, rambutan and kiwi. It comes topped with lobster and salmon sashimi. It is priced at $98+ for a four- to six-person portion. A 10-person portion costs $178+. Yusheng is also available for takeaway.

Where: Marina Mandarin Singapore, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square

Open: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 11am to 2.30pm (weekends) and 6.30 to 10.30pm daily

Info: Call 6845-1118

Yan Ting

What: Head to Yan Ting for yusheng with snow pear, abalone and salmon (right). Here, the sweet and refreshing snow pear replaces the radish.

It is available only as part of the Smooth Sailing six-course set menu ($228++ a person, with a minimum of two people). The restaurant also has other yusheng options that include a lobster and salmon yusheng, which comes with the Success eight-course set ($2,888++ for a table of 10).

A la carte yusheng, which is also available for takeaway, includes one with salmon and fish roe (from $48) and a vegetarian version (from $38).

Where: The St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road

Open: 11.45am to 2.30pm and 6.30 to 10.30pm daily. Dimsum brunch on weekends and public holidays is served from 11.45am to 3pm

Info: Call 6506-6866


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