Mum's too swamped to cook up reunion dinner this year? Have no fear, pen cai-loving people. We've rounded up six festive feasts – from traditional Chinese to Western – that'll guide good luck and prosperity your way.
Modern art and design meet refined Cantonese fare at this regal restaurant in The St Regis Singapore. Begin the meal by tossing to an auspicious new year with the restaurant’s prosperity yu sheng ($68/$108), loaded with fresh fruits like papaya, honeydew and snow pear. The Chinese New Year menus are priced from $118 for six courses, which comprise dishes such as fork-tender braised beef rib, ee-fu noodles with Boston lobster in XO sauce, and two-headed abalone.
Pair the food with… The beef pairs best with Hennessy VSOP, which enhances the sweetness of the sauce, while the noodles should be slurped in between sips of Hennessy XO – the cognac brings out the peppery notes of the dish.
Executive Chinese chef Brian Wong Shiuh Yean’s healthier approach to Chinese cooking ensures that each dish at Wan Hao is prepared without any preservatives and artificial flavours. Order à la carte or from one of its four Chinese New Year set menus (from $98.80). Highlights include braised South African 15-head dried abalone with fish maw that’s been stewed for seven days, stir-fried scallops and asparagus in XO sauce and pan-fried Australian beef tenderloin with honey black garlic sauce.
Pair the food with… The mildness of the abalone goes best with the lighter and sweeter Hennessy VSOP. Spicy dishes like the stir-fried scallops served with XO sauce are enhanced when paired with the rich aromas of Hennessy XO.
Not only will you be treated to a fleet of expertly prepared Chinese dishes at Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine, its unique location also grants views of the glittering casino floor. (Pro tip: for an extra special occasion book out one of the three private rooms that look out to Marina Bay.) Set meals start from $798 for four, which include baked Boston lobster in superior broth and roasted chicken. But we recommend ordering from the à la carte menu, especially if you plan on wrapping your lips around the restaurant’s signature roasted Peking duck, served tableside.
Pair the food with… Have the duck plain with a glass of Hennessy VSOP, or wrap it in a pancake with spring onions, cucumber and sauce. As the duck isn’t very gamey, VSOP works best – the spirit doesn’t mask the natural flavour of the poultry. However, when eaten with the spring onions and sweet sauce, Hennessy XO ties all the flavours together, making for the better pairing.
Instead of going to a restaurant, make your reunion dinner a grand affair by booking a meal at The Ritz-Carlton's Grand Ballroom. Gather a minimum of eight guests ($138 per person) and tuck into dishes like steamed cod with braised beancurd skin and tea-smoked chicken served with ginger sauce while a two-piece Chinese instrument ensemble provides musical entertainment in the background. All diners will also go home with an exclusive set of Ritz-Carlton red packets and a pair of Mandarin oranges.
Pair the food with… Start the Year of the Rooster with an abundance of food and drink. The generously thick slices of premium cod fish might taste light on its own, but pair it with Hennessy XO to bring out more depth from this buttery fish. The subtle smokiness of the roast chicken goes best with Hennessy VSOP – add a dollop of ginger sauce to enhance the spicy notes of the VSOP.
Nothing much has changed at Golden Peony over the years – the decor and art are still the same, and the food is just as good. Choice Cantonese ingredients are sourced from all regions of China in order to create exotic Chinese New Year set menus (from $100). Expect innovative dishes like chicken roulade with mushroom, roast London duck and ‘bi feng tang’ lobster with spiced almond flakes.Pair the food with… Have the roast duck – it’s fattier and juicier than the bird we’re used to – with a sip of Hennessy XO to cut through the richness. Another must-try is the ‘bi feng tang’ golden half lobster ($38), which explodes with flavour, especially when paired with Hennessy XO for a fiery kick.
Hidden away in a part of the island traversed mostly by people visiting the zoo, The Famous Kitchen is the place to celebrate Chinese New Year if you find yourself up north. The spacious restaurant fits 300 and has three private rooms – one even comes with a fully equipped karaoke system. Set menus start from an affordable $588 for ten and come with dishes like prawns with garlic sauce, and herbal chicken.
Pair the food with… The prawns marry perfectly with Hennessy XO: the cognac amps up the caramelised garlic and brings out the sweetness of the shellfish. On the other hand, the herbal chicken – it’s braised with dried dates, longans and chestnuts – should be paired with Hennessy VSOP, which won’t overwhelm the light, delicate notes of the dish.