Do not be surprised if the yusheng you eat this Chinese New Year is missing the quintessential raw fish.
Yusheng refers to raw fish salad in Mandarin.
Instead, the typical platter of shredded vegetables is being topped with everything from wagyu sashimi and oysters to truffle and tropical fruit as restaurants and hotels come up with creative alternatives.
The yu-less yusheng trend is in reaction to the National Environment Agency ban, announced on Dec 5 last year, on the sale of raw freshwater fish at all food establishments because of the risk of harmful parasites or bacteria.
Last year, there were about 360 cases of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infections and two fatalities. About 150 of the cases were linked to the consumption of raw freshwater fish and involve an aggressive strain of bacteria known as Type III GBS Sequence Type 283 (ST283).
It's certainly a very unusual take on the dish and, in the light of the GBS scare, I would definitely try it.
DINER HENRY LAM on meat versions of yusheng
While the traditional yusheng dish does not use freshwater fish, hotels and restaurants want to play it safe by offering cooked or non-raw fish versions of this dish.
But with or without the fish, the lo hei tradition - where seasoning and ingredients are poured over the dish as diners spout auspicious sayings while tossing the salad - will still go on.
Goodwood Park Hotel has come up with five non-raw fish alternatives for the festive season. It has taken its popular hamachi (Japanese amberjack) yusheng off the menu.
New options include crispy silver bait fish with mock tuna, where the tuna is replaced with compressed watermelon slices, and crispy eel lo hei.
Chinese restaurant Xi Yan, which has outlets at Craig Road and Shaw Centre, is also not serving any raw fish. Its yusheng offerings feature abalone, smoked salmon or fruit instead.
Other popular seafood alternatives include lobster and scallop.
For those who still want raw fish, salmon yusheng is on the menu at Szechuan Court at Fairmont Singapore, Hua Ting at Orchard Hotel and Window on the Park at Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre.
At Li Bai at Sheraton Towers, you have a choice of cooked salmon, blanched lobster, abalone, fried scallop and crispy fish skin.
For food safety reasons, some restaurants do not offer yusheng for takeaway. Nikunohi, one of the brands in multi-concept Japanese restaurant Eat At Seven in Suntec City, along with its sister outlets Maguro Donya and Enbu, offer the yusheng only for dine-in.
If you want to steer clear of fish, head to meat-centric restaurants instead. Carne & Caipirinha Brazilian Churrascaria at Sunset Way is featuring roast beef, while Nikunohi is offering beef sashimi.
Diners such as marketing manager Henry Lam, 32, find the meat versions of yusheng intriguing.
He says: "It's certainly a very unusual take on the dish and, in the light of the GBS scare, I would definitely try it."
Other people such as housewife Jacintha Low, 46, prefer to stick to the original version consisting of raw fish.
She says: "My family will stick to fish yusheng. Having meat in the yusheng feels rather odd and is a bit too modern for the older generation."
SEA WHELK AND SALMON CAVIAR YUSHENG
What: Sea whelk is braised in abalone sauce before it is added to the yusheng, along with salmon caviar. It is priced at $138 (four to six people), and $276 (eight to 10 people).
Where: Summer Pavilion, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, 7 Raffles Avenue
When: Jan 25 to Feb 22, 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm; Feb 7, 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 7.45pm, 8.30 to 10.15pm; Feb 8, 9, 13, 14, 20 and 21, 11.30am to 1pm, 1.30 to 2.45pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm
Info: Call 6434-5286 or e-mail rc.sinrz.summerpavilion@ ritzcarlton.com
ABUNDANT SEAFOOD HARVEST YUSHENG
What: Gattopardo's chef-owner Lino Sauro is jumping on the yusheng bandwagon with his version that includes Normandy oyster, Sicilian gambero rosso (red prawns), Hokkaido scallop and chopped black truffle, chopped pistachio, breadcrumbs, and salmon roe.
It is garnished with herbs and edible flowers, and drizzled with garlic mayonnaise and a sauce made with sesame vinaigrette and Sicilian anchovy essence. It is priced at $88 (for four), $148 (for six) and $188 (for eight).
Where: Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare, 34/36 Tras Street
When: Jan 29 to Feb 23, noon to 2.30pm, 5pm to midnight (Monday to Saturday and public holiday, closed on Sunday)
What: Start the year on a fruity note with julienned mango, rock melon, Japanese cucumber and strawberries served with romaine, mixed lettuce, baby radish, carrot and radish strips.
Other ingredients include crispy bacon strips, deep-fried yam and potato slivers. The dressing is made with plum sauce, mixed fruits and white truffle oil. It is priced at $78 or $128, available for dine-in only.
Where: Min Jiang at One-North, 5 Rochester Park
When: Jan 21 to Feb 22, order three days in advance by Feb 19, noon
What: Japanese restaurant Nikunohi, which specialises in wagyu and yakiniku, features a Prosperity Wagyu Lo Hei this Chinese New Year. Raw A4 grade wagyu is used in the yusheng, placed on top of the salad base. It is priced at $38 (small, for two to three) or $68 (large, for four to six people). Available for dine-in only.
Where: Nikunohi, Eat at Seven, Suntec City North Wing, 3 Temasek Boulevard, 03-316
When: Until Feb 22, closes on Feb 7 at 3pm. Open from 11.30am to 3pm, 5 to 10.30pm (weekday), 11am to 10.30pm (weekend).
What: Window on the Park at Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre presents its Fortune Smoked Duck Yu Sheng with duck flavoured with lemongrass and pandan leaves and smoked on a layer of jasmine tea leaves. It costs $68++ for 10 people.
Where: Window on the Park, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, Level 2
When: Tomorrow to Feb 29, noon to 9pm daily. Takeaway only. Order three working days in advance, self-collection required
What: Tang Restaurant, which specialises in Sichuan hotpot, features a Sichuan-style yusheng. Ingredients include Sichuan shredded sausage, Sichuan shredded fish and fried fish paste dumplings - all of which are eaten during Chinese New Year in the Chinese province. It is priced at $38 and $68 (for abalone).
Where: Tang Restaurant, 25 Keong Saik Road
When: From Feb 1 to 22, 11am to midnight, Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday
Info: Call 6222-7708
PREMIUM TRUFFLE YUSHENG
What: The yusheng by Si Chuan Dou Hua's executive Cantonese chef Leung Wing Chung includes matsutake mushrooms, truffle slices, beetroot, bean sprouts, seaweed, soya bean crisps and crispy rice grains and tossed in truffle oil and truffle mushroom sauce.
It is priced at $98 (four to six people) and $148 (eight to 10 people). A white truffle version is also available. Order two days in advance.
Where: Si Chuan Dou Hua at Parkroyal on Kitchener Road, 181 Kitchener Road
When: Until Feb 22, 11.30am to 2.30pm (lunch), 2.30 to 6pm (Reunion Imperial High Tea), 6.30 to 10.30pm (dinner)
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