REmastered: Our Classic Chinese New Year Dishes

The for­mer Bayview Inn at 30 Ben­coolen Street — Bayview International’s flag­ship prop­er­ty in Sin­ga­pore — has been revamped and reopened as the mod­ish and styl­ish 30 Ben­coolen hotel.

But it’s not just the hotel that is bring­ing the “new” to Ben­coolen Street. Occu­py­ing a promi­nent expanse of the lob­by is LOCAL Restau­rant & Bar, and their spe­cial­ty is bring­ing a new twist to oth­er­wise tra­di­tion­al cuisines. In view of the immi­nent Chi­nese Lunar New Year, per­haps it will tick­le your fan­cy to ush­er in the new year with some tra­di­tion­al CNY dish­es — remixed.

Every Chi­nese New Year meal has to start with the Yu Sheng. Exec­u­tive Chef Elvin Chew’s “ Sure Huat” Yu Sheng sets itself apart in more ways than one. The smoked Nor­we­gian Salmon that replaces the raw salmon nor­mal­ly found in Yu Sheng is encased in a Toma­to Liq­uid Jel­ly and shaped into a Koi. It’s not just any jel­ly though; Chef Chew uses Kon­nyaku, a type of jel­ly that does not crum­ble so eas­i­ly, so you can Lo Hei in peace. Shout your bless­ings as you driz­zle the Spring Onion and Gin­ger Dress­ing which replaces the usu­al plum sauce dress­ing. This sauce cuts down on the sug­ar, and yet is so beau­ti­ful­ly infused with herbs that it com­ple­ments the entire dish.

Anoth­er cus­tom­ary course is the Suck­ling Pig. LOCAL’s Spe­cial Stuffed Whole Suck­ling Pig has been stuffed full with fra­grant gluti­nous rice and roast­ed as how you would a Peking Duck. Its even tan makes the piglet seem almost too good to be true; the way your knife crunch­es and glides into the meat, you can tell it’s qual­i­ty pig. Chef Chew makes his own Caramelised Pineap­ple Sauce to go with the dish, which can be a main course by itself, or a starter in a course meal.

The sauce mim­ics pineap­ple tart fill­ings and togeth­er with the oranges used to add flavour, this is a dish that will sure­ly bring in the fes­tive spir­its.

Nor­mal­ly, a braised pork trot­ter or pork bel­ly dish will be served, but Chef Chew keeps things tra­di­tion­al. He goes with the pork knuck­le for his Braised Five Spice Pork Knuck­le. It has a fat­ty lay­er com­ing togeth­er with the lean meat which makes the dish less over­whelm­ing. This dish is sure to be a hit with the elders, with the wild for­est mush­rooms and chest­nuts bring­ing an earthy flavour to the pork. Bacon is used to wrap the knuck­le in cook­ing, so you get the west­ern smok­i­ness that adds anoth­er depth to the won­der­ful flavour.

The fried yam cake is also a pop­u­lar dish amongst the Chi­nese. Chef Chew intro­duces his 8 Hours Braised Angus Beef Cheek in Crispy Yam Ring, as a lucky charm for the new year (because of the aus­pi­cious ‘8’). Although it is a very tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese dish, the beef is braised west­ern style and it works, because the beef sim­ply falls apart in your mouth at the first bite. While the beef is deli­cious, the crispy yam ring is the show steal­er. It puffs up slight­ly like a pas­try, which is unlike oth­er fried yam cakes that are starchy through and through.

The secret? Baby yams are used instead of adult yams, which results in a crispi­er and lighter puff.

Last­ly, for dessert, we had the remade Bubur Chacha. The warm yam paste was topped with the yel­low gingko nuts, look­ing like gold nuggets atop a pile of coins. It is served with coconut milk ice cream and a gluti­nous rice ball. When mashed togeth­er, the warm paste with the cool ice cream gives a star­tling explo­sion of flavour. It throws you off that Bubur Cha Cha could be such a chameleon — espe­cial­ly when you plop in the accom­pa­ny­ing gluti­nous rice ball to mix in the black sesame fill­ing and peanuts. All of a sud­den, the dish changes into some­thing dif­fer­ent alto­geth­er, giv­ing anoth­er pro­file and dimen­sion to its taste.

LOCAL also has a take-out option for cus­tomers who still pre­fer to cel­e­brate CNY in the com­fort of home. If you’re enter­tain­ing at home and wish to impress this year, order­ing from LOCAL would be a fan­tas­tic idea, for it saves on the prepa­ra­tion time as well. Bring­ing back the old and tra­di­tion­al, LOCAL adds their own take to the dish­es and the result­ing cre­ation is famil­iar and yet nov­el.

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