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."
What: Corner House's yusheng goes haute cuisine with a pretty assemblage of more than 20 tubers, leaves and herbs including Japanese daikon, chioggia beetroot, confit candied kumquats, mesclun salad and edible flowers. It is also served with raw abalone and flounder, and wafer- thin sheets of raw Japanese hamachi fish.
Where: 1 Cluny Road, Nassim Gate, Singapore Botanic Gardens E J H Corner House
When: From Feb 17 to March 5, noon to 3pm, 6.30 to 11pm (Tuesday to Saturday), 11.30am to 3pm, 6.30pm to 11pm (Sunday). Closed on Monday
Price: $28++ a person
Info: Call 6469-1000 or go to www.cornerhouse.com.sg. Available for dine-in only. Advance orders are not necessary
What: Raise your chopsticks to this colourful tapestry of julienned zucchini, pears, tarragon and candied kumquats among other things.
Earthy quatre epices (a French blend of ground pepper, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, which is an alternative to Chinese five-spice powder), a zesty hazelnut-based dressing and smoked duck or poached lobster complete the salad.
Where: 2 Dickson Road, Wanderlust Hotel, Level 1
When: Till March 5, noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday), noon to 3pm, 6.30 to 11pm (Friday to Sunday), closed on Tuesday
Price: $49++ (with smoked duck), $102++ (with poached lobster), serves four to six people
Info: Call 6298-1188 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Available for dine-in and takeaway. Order at least two days in advance
What: Belgian restaurant Brussels Sprouts' version features beer-battered mussels, beer vinegar pickled vegetables topped with smoked salmon and boiled prawns. It is topped with sesame and plum infused cassonade dressing, peanuts, olive oil, sesame, pepper and cinnamon.
Where: 3 outlets including 80 Mohamed Sultan Road, The Pier @ Robertson, 01-12
When: Feb 17 to March 5, various opening hours, go to www.brusselssprouts.com.sg
Price: $68++ (serves four to six people)
Info: Call 6887-4344. Available for both dine-in and takeaway. Order one day in advance for takeaway orders only
What: The Spanish restaurant has replaced the raw fish sashimi with suckling pig, which is perfumed with paprika, sesame oil and Spanish honey and roasted for two hours. Instead of deep-fried flour crisps, munch on equally crispy pork crackling. This yusheng also comprises zucchini, carrots, pears, pomelo, cashew nuts, pomegranates and is crowned with a zesty sauce made of jamon Iberico (cured ham), saffron and sunflower seeds.
Where: 1 Rochester Park
When: Till March 5, 5 to 11pm (Monday to Saturday). Closed on Sunday
Price: $48++ (serves four to six people)
Info: Call 6773-0070 or go to www.una.sg. Available for dine-in and takeaway. Call beforehand for takeaways. Advance orders are not necessary
INDOCAFE - THE WHITE HOUSE
What: For those who crave some spice, this Peranakan-inspired yusheng comes with a Nonya dressing, which is made from a blend of chicken and fish curry pastes. The sauce is slathered over baby abalone, salmon, tuna and jellyfish.
Where: 35 Scotts Road
When: From tomorrow to March 5, noon to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm, daily
Price: $68+ (serves six to eight people)
Info: Call 6733-2656 or e-mail email@example.com. Available for both dine-in and takeaway. Advance orders are not necessary
What: The casual eatery by Old Chang Kee serves yusheng which is sprinkled with the curry powder used to make the filling of its popular curry puffs.
Rounding up the Prosperity Toss Curry Yu Sheng are more than 10 ingredients such as dried tangerine peel, melon, taro and salmon slices.
Where: 3 outlets including Novena Square 02-33/34
When: Till March 5; various opening hours, go to www.currytimes.com.sg
Price: $32.80++ (serve four to 10 people)
Info: Call 6354-3206. Available for both dine-in and takeaway. Advance orders are not necessary
What: Forget chopsticks, use your hands to toss the Dancing Yusheng, with plastic gloves, of course.
Spread out on plastic sheets are chilled steamed Alaskan king crab leg meat, iceberg lettuce, radish, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spinach, flour crackers, fried fish skin and smoked salmon.
The yusheng is topped with crushed popping candy, which injects a fizzy kick. The sauce is made of ingredients such as wholegrain mustard and organic honey.
Where: The Grandstand, 01-20/21
When: Tuesday to March 5, 5 to 10.30pm (Tuesday to Friday), 11.30am to 3pm, 5 to 10.30pm (Saturday and Sunday). Closed on Monday
Price: $48++ (serves four people), $88++ (serves eight people)
Info: Call 6466-3303 or go to www.dancingcrab.com.sg. Available for dine-in only. One day advance order recommended
What: Winter truffles from France are the star of the Black Diamond yusheng, which also features hokkigai (surf clam), crispy fish skin, salmon trout sashimi and salmon roe. It is served with greens such as purple cabbage, shiso leaves and enoki mushroom.
Where: 50 Collyer Quay, OUE Bayfront, rooftop
When: Till March 7, noon to 2pm, 6 to 10pm (Monday and Tuesday), 6pm to 10.30pm (Wednesday to Saturday). Closed on Sunday
Price: $98++ (serves two to four people), $188++ (serves 6 to 8 pax)
Info: Call 6634-4555 or go to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Available for dine-in and takeaway. Order at least three days in advance. Last day for orders is March 4 before 10pm
What: The casual Thai eatery offers a soft shell crab lohei, which is made up of more than 10 ingredients, including crispy soft shell crab, shredded red and green capsicums, green mangoes and rice crackers.
It is dressed in a tangy mango sauce, which has fish sauce and palm sugar added in it.
Where: More than 20 outlets including Raffles City Shopping Centre, B1-77
When: Till March 5, various opening hours, go to www.thaiexpress.com.sg
Price: $22.80++ (serves two to four people)
Info: E-mail feedback.thaiexpress@thai express.com.sg. Available for dine-in only. Advance orders are not necessary
SYNC KOREAN FUSION BISTRO
What:This yusheng has 18 ingredients, such as Korean sea bream sashimi and flying fish roe topped on strips of daikon, seaweed and kimchi. The concoction comes with a sweet-savoury sauce made of blended kimchi, kimchi juice, gochujiang (chilli pepper paste), plum and ponzu sauces.
Where: 12 Maju Avenue, Serangoon Garden Estate; Westgate mall, 03-01
When: Till Feb 28; 12 Maju Avenue: 11am to midnight daily. Closed on Tuesday. Westgate mall: 11am to 11pm daily
Price: From $28 (serves two to four people)
Info: Call 6282-0612, 6369-9913 or go to www.facebook.com/syncbistro. Recommended to order two days in advance. Available for dine-in and takeaway
What: Diners use a wooden mallet to crack The Queen's Yusheng, a gigantic golden chocolate egg. Inside, they will find diced pineapple, Thai green mango, red dragon fruit and pomelo.
Accompanying the egg are chocolates shaped like fish, ingots and coins; nuts, yam and sweet potato chips, meringue and mandarin orange butter cake.
The yusheng is tossed with a mandarin orange, plum and gula melaka dressing.
Where: 30 Pehas Road
When: Tomorrow to March 5; 11am to 10pm (Monday to Thursday, 11am to 11pm, Friday, 10am to 11pm, Saturday, 10am to 10pm, Sunday
Price: $88++ (serves six to eight people)
Info: Call 6293-3121 or go to www.antoinette.com.sg. Available for both dine-in and takeaway. Order one day in advance
This article was first published on February 8, 2015.
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