Last Saturday, we went with Lynettte and a group of friends to the lovely Sichuan Do Hua restaurant for a Chinese New Year celebration dinner. But, wasn’t CNY last week? Yes, and no, because traditionally CNY is celebrated for fifteen whole days, ending with the lantern festival on the fifteenth day. So we were well within the celebratory period.
Lynette had outdone herself by booking the most beautiful private room in the restaurant and before we even finished wooing and aaahing, two waiters served us tea kung-fu style. Now that’s service with panache!
One must-have Chinese New Year dish in Singapore is Yu Sheng, which means raw fish literally. It is actually a salad with sashimi and various other ingredients, all carrying auspicious meanings. The way to eat it is called Lo Hei, which is Cantonese for “lifting up.” The restaurants usually prepare long chopsticks (about a foot long) so everybody can stand up around the table and use the chopsticks to toss, or throw the salad in the air, depending on how you look at it. Some say that the higher you toss, the more luck and prosperity the new year will bring. Even though we have lived in Singapore before I had never taken part in Lo Hei or eating Yu Sheng until then. In fact, only a handful of people in our group have had it before so the novelty factor caused us all to giggle like little kids while enthusiastically scattering salad greens and precious abalones all over the table. We only stopped when someone pointed out that if we carried on like that there’d be nothing to eat.
According to our Yu Sheng expert (a Singaporean and two Italians who have eaten it before), Si Chuan Do Hua’s version is a little different. They included abalone and a crispy fish skin, and also used a very nice plume sauce for the dressing. I loved it so much I had two heaping servings and would’ve had more if there was any left.
Besides the Yu Sheng we also had the following dishes: eight treasure seafood soup sans sharks fin, steamed red grouper, braised prawn in spinach sauce, DongPo pork, scallops in potato basket, fried noodles, and a dessert of longan and red date soup.
Everything was delicious, although I was puzzled as to why there weren’t any spicy dishes since the chef is from Si Chuan, home of Ma Po tofu, until Lynette reminded us that she was the one who picked the menu, hee!
At the end of the dinner we were served fortune cookies! I was tickled to see those because I didn’t think anyone else used them except Chinese restaurants in the US. When I opened my cookie, I found a fortune that said I had won a $50 dining voucher. But the best part was, I had two fortunes in the cookie, which means I won two vouchers. Now if that’s not an auspicious sign for the new year, I don’t know what is.