Here’s the 101 on the Dragon Boat Festival.
It commemorates the life and death of famed Warring-states period China minister Qu Yuan; people race canoes that look like Chinese dragons; and everyone who joins in the fest feasts on parcels of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves.
While classic fillings of roast meats and egg yolk are the traditional, popular ones, there are other fancier versions featuring a host of fine food fillings (think foie gras and truffle) and healthier ingredients (all kinds of nutritious grains), at varied prices and packaged in newfangled ways. Here are 19 of the best restaurants in SG that serve up 49 types of rice dumplings for you to chow down on. Just do so before they are gone by the day of the Dragon Boat Festival (18 June).
(image: Hua Ting, Orchard Hotel)
The newly revamped Hua Ting Restaurant commemorates this year’s Dragon Boat Festival with a couple of perennial favourites – a savoury Hong Kong style rice dumpling and a sweet kee chang (alkaline dumpling). The signature Hong Kong style rice dumpling ($32.80) is shaped like a rectangular golden pillow wrapped with bamboo and lotus leaves. Its generous filling comprises whole abalone, roasted duck, roasted pork, dried scallops, mushrooms, salted egg yolk and chestnuts. Hua Ting’s classic kee chang, which comes with red bean paste ($6.80), is excellent as a dessert or even an afternoon tea treat paired with Chinese tea. From now till June 18, you can enjoy these items for dine-in and takeaway.
(image: Crystal Jade)
For the Dragon Boat Festival, Crystal Jade features two new dumplings: mala (Sichuan chili oil sauce) rice dumpling and assorted mushroom with pork belly dumpling. The mala rice dumpling ($8.80) teems with succulent pork shoulder and Spanish pork collar marinated in a proprietary mala blend. Szechuan peppercorns, a mix of dried chillies and chilli oil lend fiery kick to this dumpling which is nicely balanced with sweet chestnuts, salted egg yolk and mung beans. The assorted mushroom with pork belly dumpling ($7.80) is crammed with three different types of mushrooms (shiitake, king oyster and white button mushrooms) alongside a mixture of pork belly, chestnuts, salted egg yolk and mung beans.
Crystal Jade also offers other varieties such as premium rice dumpling with abalone ($19.80), packed with 10-head braised abalone, roasted pork, roasted duck, dried scallops, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts, salted egg yolk and mung bean. There’s also the classic rice dumpling with five-spiced marinated pork ($7.80) comprising fragrant glutinous rice, juicy pork chunks, sweet chestnuts, salted egg yolk and mung beans. All these varieties are available at all Crystal Jade restaurants from now till 18 June 2018.
(image: Summer Place)
This year, Michelin one-star Cantonese restaurant Summer Palace introduces two new handcrafted rice dumplings: dried oyster, sea moss and kurobuta pork dumpling ($28) and the five-grain vegetarian pumpkin dumpling ($22). The latter is a healthy rendition made with a nutritious blend of five-grain variations of oat, brown rice, pre-germinated brown rice, buckwheat, and pearl barley. It is packed with a selection of quality ingredients such as pumpkin flesh, morel mushrooms, bamboo piths, sweet corn, lotus seeds and green beans, among others. Plus, the dumpling is interestingly partnered with a house-made creamy pumpkin sauce.
The chef has also created an abalone steamed rice dumpling ($38) generously stuffed with a mixture of abalone, black mushrooms, chestnuts, green beans, dried scallops, roast duck and salted egg yolk, as well as sweet version with red bean paste and fragrant osmanthus honey ($13). Try these intriguing recipes at the Summer Palace from June 4 to 18.
(image: Xin Cusine)
Holiday Inn Atrium’s Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant will roll out its best-selling rice dumpling with decadent abalone, foie gras and tea-smoked duck ($38.80) this festive period. Encased in fragrant glutinous rice is a combination of buttery foie gras and premium Australian abalone alongside the signature home-style roast duck perfumed with tea leaves. Those who prefer seafood will love the new superior fish maw and cod fish dumpling ($28.80) combined with dried scallop and salted egg yolk.
New, too, is the truffle and pork belly dumpling ($18.80) which marries pork belly, preserved Chinese sausage and aromatic truffle in one delicious bundle. If you prefer traditional flavours, there’s the Xin Cuisine homemade traditional dumpling ($12.80 per dumpling, $58 for a bundle of six) – a popular signature filled with braised five-spiced pork belly, mushrooms, shrimp and salted egg yolk. The dumpling with osmanthus, ginkgo nut, and Chinese date paste dumpling ($10.80) is a lovely sweet option to round off your meal. All five of these delights can be had for $88 from now till June 18.
(image: Wan Hao)
Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant has created four rice dumpling treats including the new red vinasse chicken rice dumpling ($16). Chunks of chicken thigh meat are marinated for hours with piquant red vinasse sauce, made from the fermentation of glutinous rice, red rice yeast, rice wine, sugar and salt. The filling also comes with black-eyed beans, chestnuts and a savoury egg yolk.
The sweet toothed will love the new locally-inspired coconut, brown sugar, red bean and chestnut rice dumpling ($12). The dumpling is paired with palm sugar sauce for takeaway orders, or served with refreshing coconut ice cream if you’re eating in. Another new must-try: black truffle five-grain vegetarian dumpling. In this healthy East meets West creation, the premium black truffle adds a welcome earthy aroma to the mixture of black glutinous rice, glutinous rice, grain rice, as well as turnip, carrot, king oyster mushroom, black fungus, vegetarian bak kwa (Chinese salty-sweet dried meat) and braised peanuts.
Aside from these new items, Wan Hao is offering its signature Cantonese-style pork and salted egg rice dumpling with mushrooms, black-eyed beans and chestnuts. Bonus: From now to June 18, purchase a set of four handcrafted rice dumplings elegantly packaged in a gold premium box, and enjoy 20% off.
(image: Hai Tien Lo)
The well-established Hai Tien Lo is offering new creations and perennial favourites for this year’s Dragon Boat Festival. Try the new classic pork knuckle dumpling with yam and peanut ($17.80) loaded with tender pork knuckle and mixed with braised peanuts and yam. Or, munch on the unique brown rice and premium glutinous rice dumpling with salted egg and corn ($8.80).
The signature traditional jumbo rice dumpling ($31.80) marries premium glutinous rice with quality ingredients such as dried scallops, Japanese mushrooms, succulent pork belly, salted egg yolk. Other traditional flavours offered include the Cantonese pork dumpling with salted egg yolk ($13.80 per piece) and traditional Nyonya (Peranakan style) dumpling ($9.80 per piece). Enjoy these flavourful dumplings while they are still available from now to 18 June 2018.
(image: Man Fu Yuan)
Man Fu Yuan offers four varieties of handcrafted rice dumplings available for takeaway and dining in from now till June 18. A new highlight is the barbecued smoked char siew (Chinese barbecued pork) rice dumpling ($12.80). Wrapped in glutinous rice are sumptuous slices of the resto’s new signature barbecued Kagoshima pork belly char siew, which is first marinated with rose wine, then barbecued until caramelised, and finished by smoking over tea leaves and wood chips. For classic flavours, the Hokkien-style rice dumpling ($9) is stuffed with five-spice seasoned pork belly, chestnuts, and salted egg yolk.
Or, if you want something with a little more spice, try the signature X.O. sauce Nyonya (Peranakan style) rice dumpling ($10.80), which features a generous portion of minced pork marinated in Man Fu Yuan’s special homemade X.O. chilli sauce, and livened up with sweetened strips of winter melon and dried shrimps. For a sweet treat, try the red paste bean lye rice dumpling ($8) scented with fragrant orange peel.
(image: Cherry Garden)
This beaut of a Cantonese restaurant is presenting three rice dumplings this season. Catering to the health conscious is the new five-grain rice dumpling ($16), comprising of brown rice, glutinous rice, black glutinous rice, sorghum and millet. A popular mainstay is the unique creation of black garlic rice dumpling ($18) brimming with preserved vegetables, chunks of black garlic and kurobuta pork. For something more classic yet no less luxurious, try the Golden Pearl rice dumpling ($28) with hearty pork belly, abalone, chestnut, mushrooms and salted egg yolk. Partake in these savoury delicacies from 8 to 18 June .
(image: Peach Blossoms)
Peach Blossoms celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival with a variety of rice dumplings from now till 18 June, including a new rice dumpling filled with abalone, sakura ebi and foie gras ($21.80) offers textural contrast with its combination of succulent abalone, velvety foie gras, and crunchy sakura ebi. Look out, too, for traditional Hakka pork belly rice dumplings ($15.80), and classic Hong Kong-style rice dumplings ($28.80) which are filled with abalone, conpoy or dried scallops, pork belly, mushrooms, salted egg yolk, chestnut, lotus seeds and lentils. Health-conscious diners may choose between the multigrain rice dumpling with abalone, conpoy and pork belly ($18.80), or the wholesome vegetarian multigrain rice dumpling with cordyceps flower, black truffle and mushrooms ($11.80)
(image: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)
This Cantonese Restaurant – named after a famous Chinese poet from the Tang dynasty, fyi – marks Dragon Boat Festival with a selection of three homemade rice dumplings. The new multi-grain and dried seafood rice dumpling ($48) is a lavish savoury parcel packed with an assortment of dried scallop, dried oyster, dried shrimp, sea whelk, sole fish, clam and mussel. Healthy ingredients like black glutinous rice, red bean, mung bean, and black-eyed pea round up the value-worthy ingredient list for this dumpling.
Back by popular demand, the abalone and pumpkin rice dumpling ($48) is a premium choice filled with abalone, pumpkin, Chinese mushroom, pork belly, salted egg, mung bean, conpoy and chestnut. Another favourite is the traditional rice dumpling ($42) filled with pork belly, roast duck, Chinese mushroom, chestnut, salted egg, conpoy and dried shrimp. They make great gifts to buy from now till 18 June, as each of the dumplings are housed in red box.
(image: Resorts World Singapore)
Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) brings back its signature Dumpling Festival Package, which consists of an assortment of five distinct dumplings filled with premium ingredients. A collaboration of five celebrity chef restaurants at RWS – Forest森, Feng Shui Inn, Tangerine, Syun and Osia Steak and Seafood Grill – the dumplings bear the respective restaurant’s signature culinary style.
Celebrity chef Sam Leong and his culinary team at Forest森 have created a flavourful X.O. Dumpling with Seafood. Glutinous rice is soaked in chicken stock and stir-fried with a house-made sweet-spicy X.O. sauce. Wrapped within the rice is a mixture of seafood including dried oyster, scallop and sea whelk. Feng Shui Inn’s New Territories Village Traditional Rice Dumpling teems with a whole 10-head abalone from Australia, pork belly, fermented red beancurd paste, roast pork, black fungus and salted egg, and is complemented with a homemade superior soya sauce.
Meat lovers should look to Osia Steak and Seafood Grill for its Spiced Beef Cheek Dumpling. Its rendition is packed with tender Australian grass-fed beef cheeks slow-braised in a house-made five spice concoction, complete with aromatic herbs and vegetables. Tangerine’s Organic Grains, Lotus Seed & Seaweed Dumpling features barley, brown rice and quinoa cooked in kombu or brown seaweed stock, and mixed with steamed lotus seeds. Rich in protein, fibre and minerals, this is a healthier alternative to the traditional meatier versions. Syun’s Japanese-inspired Unagi Dumpling presents a rich, umami (savoury) option – this version comprises Japanese mochi-gome, or sticky rice married with Japanese eel, and shiitake mushrooms flavoured with teriyaki sauce and sansho or Japanese pepper.
But you don’t have to head to each resto just to try out these dumplings. These five goodies are presented in a three-tiered bamboo steamer (which is reusable and convenient for easy reheating) as a RWS’ Dumpling Festival Package ($98). Do note: Available for takeaway from now till June 15 (collection is until June 18 at Feng Shui Inn), an advance order of three working days is required.
(image: Summer Pavilion)
The one-Michelin starred Cantonese restaurant Summer Pavilion at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is focusing on just one creation: its traditional rice dumpling. The decadent steamed glutinous rice parcel is filled with roast duck, roast pork, dried scallops, dried shrimp, salted egg yolk, mushrooms, lotus seeds, chestnuts, and green beans. You have till 18 June to buy and decide if this is the one to rule them all (at $22 a piece).
(image: Paradise Group)
The Paradise Group’s restaurants (Paradise Teochew, Taste Paradise and Canton Paradise) will be offering four variations of rice dumplings for the festival. Wrapped within one is a brand new flavour of salted egg yolk, pork, and sakura ebi, along with a combination of mung bean, pork belly, fatty pork meat, lotus seed, chestnut and dried shrimp ($8.90). There’s also a deluxe pork dumpling with conpoy and chestnut (S$10.80) elevated with deep-fried shallot, five-spice powder, dried scallops and shiitake mushroom.
The luxurious square-shaped premium abalone dumpling (S$23.80) contains a whole ten-head abalone bundled in soft glutinous rice. For the sweet-toothed, the lye dumpling (dumpling that is treated with lye water) with smooth red bean paste ($5.20) though not overly sweet, works as a dessert. To sample a little bit of everything, get the four-piece package at S$48.70, available till 18 June 2018.
By Leanne Liew, additional reporting by Chris Ong, June 14, 2018.
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