Pyramid game: Unusual fillings for dumplings range from unagi to duck

Peony Jade’s Surf N Turf Dumpling has shredded lamb, whitebait and salmon floss.
Peony Jade’s Surf N Turf Dumpling has shredded lamb, whitebait and salmon floss. PHOTO: PEONY JADE

This year, rice dumplings with fillings adapted from popular dishes take centre stage

Roll over, traditional rice dumplings filled with pork belly or minced pork, mushrooms and chestnuts.

Restaurants and hotels are coming up with new and inventive flavours to top one another in the game.

Last year, multi-grain and brown rice dumplings were all the rage because research had revealed then that white rice consumption is linked to diabetes.

This year, unusual meat fillings are in the spotlight, with restaurants experimenting with ingredients ranging from ginseng chicken to grilled unagi (eel).

Man Fu Yuan in InterContinental Singapore has rolled out a Ginseng Chicken With Red Dates Rice Dumpling this year. It is adapted from Korean samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup).

The dumpling has made up about 15 per cent of orders since sales started on May 1.

The hotel's executive chef Eric Neo says: "It is important to add the right amount of Korean ginseng and control the time that it is cooked in the chicken stock to achieve a light, lingering ginseng taste in every bite."

Besides meat, seafood in rice dumplings is also becoming more popular and it is not just the usual abalone and dried scallops.

Japanese restaurant Syun in Resorts World Sentosa has debuted a dumpling that is topped with grilled unagi coated in a sweet soya sauce-based sauce.

The restaurant's executive sous chef Norihito Saji says he was inspired by popular unagi rice dishes such as unagi donburi (rice bowls) and unagi nigiri sushi.

At Shang Palace in Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, lobster features in one of eight new rice dumplings flavours this year. The lobster dumpling also contains shredded chicken, green peppers and parmesan cheese.

The Chinese restaurant's master chef, Steven Ng, looked to another rice dish for inspiration - risotto.

He says: "The saltiness of Parmesan cheese ties up the different textures and aromas of the lobster and chicken filling, while green pepper gives a hint of spice."

Or, for the best of both worlds, the Surf N Turf dumpling by Peony Jade Restaurant, which has outlets in Keppel Club and Clarke Quay, might just be the one.

Executive chef Rick Liew was inspired by how the Chinese characters for fish and lamb, when combined, form the character "xian", which means "fresh".

The dumpling is stuffed with wok-fried shredded lamb, whitebait, crispy salmon floss, shiitake mushroom and shrimp.

Chef Liew spent three weeks experimenting in the kitchen to come up with this "challenging combination of ingredients".

Mr Robert Han, group general manager of The Quayside Group that runs Peony Jade, says: "Whitebait has a pleasant and not too fishy aroma and its light texture pairs well with the rich and gamey lamb. The salmon floss adds crunch."

The Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant has also introduced another new flavour this year - soya sauce chicken and braised peanut dumpling, which is adapted from one of its signature dishes.

And then for something sweet, how about the dumpling by Pan Pacific Singapore's Hai Tien Lo? Its multi-grain rice dumpling is loaded with nian gao, a sticky rice cake that usually makes an appearance during Chinese New Year.

Rice dumplings are eaten to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, which is May 30 this year.

And while eateries try to top one another with fancy flavours each year, diners rejoice.

Project manager Michelle Nah, 39, says: "These new flavours of rice dumplings are novel."

Product executive Benson Tan, 33, says: "I look out for new rice dumpling flavours every year."

Unusual fillings 


Peony Jade’s Surf N Turf Dumpling has shredded lamb, whitebait and salmon floss. PHOTO: PEONY JADE

What: Lamb and fish make an unlikely pairing in this dumpling ($10.90) by Chinese restaurant Peony Jade this year. The filling of shredded lamb, whitebait, shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimps are wok-fried and then wrapped with rice and crispy salmon floss. Where: Peony Jade, Level M Keppel Club, Bukit Chermin Road; and 02-02, Block 3A Clarke Quay When: Till May 30, 11am to 2.30pm, 6 to 11pm (weekdays); 10am to 3pm, 6 to 11pm (weekends) Info: Call 6276-9138/6375-5562 (Keppel Club) or 6338-0305 (Clarke Quay) or go to


What: Love samgyetang? This is the glutinous rice dumpling version ($10.80) of the Korean ginseng chicken soup dish. The chicken thigh is marinated in chicken stock, slices of Korean ginseng, red dates and oyster sauce for an hour before being wrapped with rice in bamboo leaves. Where: Man Fu Yuan, Level 2 InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road When: Till May 30, 11.45am to 3pm; 6.30 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays); 11am to 3pm; 6.30 to 10.30pm (Sundays) Info: Call 6825-1008 or go to


What: This rice dumping contains a slab of grilled Japanese eel.

The unagi fillet is seasoned with three types of Japanese soya sauces: tamari, tenoh and koikuchi from Wakayama Prefecture, as well as mirin and sake.

The eel rests on a block of Akitakomachi rice that has been cooked with sake and shiitake mushrooms.

The unagi dumpling is available only as part of Resorts World Sentosa's Dumpling Feast set ($98), which also includes four other rice dumplings from the integrated resort's restaurants.

These include five-spice kurobuta pork from Osia and sea whelk, dried oyster and Hokkaido scallop dumpling from Forest. Where: Feng Shui Inn, Level G2 Crockfords Tower, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway When: Till May 26 (for pre-orders), till May 30 (for collection), noon to 8pm daily Info: Call 6577-6688/6599 or e-mail


What: Inspired by seafood risotto, this fusion dumpling ($23.80) is loaded with lobster, shredded chicken, onions, green peppers and parmesan cheese. It is one of eight new flavours from Shang Palace this year.

Other interesting picks include bird's nest and seaweed ($26.80), and a vegetarian dumpling ($18.80) filled with nourishing ingredients such as huai shan (Chinese yam), black eyed peas and he shou wu (a Chinese herb also known as fo-ti). Where: Shang Palace, Lobby Level Tower Wing, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road When: Till May 31, noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm (weekdays); 11am to 3pm; 6 to 10pm (weekends) Info: Call 6213-4473/4398 or order online at (order at least two days in advance)


Hai Tien Lo’s Glutinous Rice Dumpling With Multi-grain Rice. PHOTO: HAI TIEN LO

What: Nian gao, which is sold during Chinese New Year, makes a rare appearance here.

The steamed sticky rice cake is infused with coconut milk and wrapped with multi-grain rice that includes pearl barley, buckwheat and sorghum. Where: Hai Tien Lo, Level 3 Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard When: Till May 30, 11.30am to 9pm daily (collection time) Info: Call 6826-8240 or go to (order three days in advance)



What: Forget bamboo leaves. This dumpling ($36++) is wrapped in pig's skin from de-boned pig's trotters that have been braised in five-spice powder, bay leaves and Sichuan pepper for three hours.

The filling includes glutinous rice, peanuts and mushrooms. This dish is served with a tangy Sichuan dressing made with vinegar and chilli oil and is available only for dine-in. Where: Birds of a Feather, 115 Amoy Street When: May 26 to 30, 10am to 11pm (Mondays to Wednesdays); 10am to midnight (Thursdays to Saturdays); 11.30am to 11pm (Sundays) Info: Call 6221-7449 or go to feathersg

Duck dumplings


At least four restaurants have introduced roast and smoked duck rice dumplings this year.

Golden Peony restaurant in Conrad Centennial Singapore Hotel has rolled out the London Duck X.O. Sauce Rice Dumpling.

For the past five years, the restaurant's Chinese executive chef Ku Keung, 52, translated the restaurant's popular dishes, including chilli crab, Hainanese chicken rice and bak kut teh into rice dumplings.

This year, he was inspired by the restaurant's Cantonese-style roast London duck, which is seasoned with ingredients such as Chinese rose wine, five-spice powder and star anise. The duck is from Ireland, which is known for producing fat and tender ducks.

Chef Ku says: "But sliced duck breast is generally drier than other meat, so I added braised pork belly and housemade X.O. sauce to keep the dumpling moist."

Restaurant chain Crystal Jade is debuting its roast duck salted egg dumpling, which has a piece of bone-in duck nestled in the rice.

A spokesman says duck is "a perennial favourite" at its restaurants. Its duck is seasoned with ingredients such as yellow bean paste, hoisin sauce and sesame oil, giving it a robust smoky flavour.

He says: "Duck is a flavourful dark meat and holds its shape well in a rice dumpling."

Here is where to get duck dumplings.



What: Chinese restaurant Golden Peony has turned its popular roast London duck dish into a rice dumpling ($18.80). The ducks are from Ireland. The rice dumpling is also filled with strips of pork belly, mushrooms and chestnuts. X.O. chilli sauce is added to give it depth of flavour. Where: Golden Peony, Level 3 Conrad Centennial Singapore, 2 Temasek Boulevard When: Till May 30, 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily Info: Call 6432-7482/8 or order online at (order three days in advance)


What: This rice dumpling ($36) pairs foie gras with chunks of smoked and roasted duck for contrasting textures. The aromatic oil from the foie gras is absorbed into the rice, which gives the dumpling more umami. The 600g dumpling is also studded with chestnut, salted egg yolk, mushrooms and lotus seeds. Where: Yan Ting, Level 1U The St Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road When: Till June 4, noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm Info: Call 6506-6887 or go to


Roast duck salted egg rice dumpling from Crystal Jade. PHOTO: CRYSTAL JADE

What: Like most Cantonese-style dumplings, this new addition ($7.80) to Crystal Jade Restaurant's line-up is stuffed with roast duck, pork belly, chestnuts, salted egg yolk and mung beans. Where: All Crystal Jade restaurants and bakery outlets, including Crystal Jade Golden Palace, 05-22 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road When: Till May 30, various opening hours Info: Go to (order three days in advance)


What: This duck dumpling ($20.80) is one of the eight new flavours of rice dumplings this year by Shang Palace in Shangri-La Hotel.

The roast duck is perfumed with mei gui lu (Chinese rose wine), which gives the meat a subtly sweet flavour.

The aroma of the duck is lifted with pandan-scented rice and bamboo leaves.

Where: Shang Palace, Lobby Level Tower Wing, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road When: Till May 31, noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm (weekdays); 11am to 3pm; 6 to 10pm (weekends) Info: Call 6213-4473/4398 or order online at (order at least two days in advance)


What: Making a return this year is the London duck dumpling ($11.80) by London Fat Duck.

It features the Chinese eatery's signature roast duck meat, sliced and shredded, to create a contrast in textures. It also contains braised and roasted pork belly, chestnuts, salted egg yolk and green bean.

Where: B1-16/17 Scotts Square, 6 Scotts Road; 01-23 Waterway Point, 83 Punggol Central, and B2-29 VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk When: Till May 30, 11.30am to 10pm (weekdays), 10am to 10pm (weekends) Info: Call 6443-7866 (Scotts Square); 6385-9557 (Waterway Point); or 6221-6689 (VivoCity)


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'Pyramid game'. Print Edition | Subscribe