The festive yusheng platter has become a lot more sophisticated over the years.
For decades, the raw fish salad had mostly consisted of just various ingredients and pickles in unattractive mounds.
These days, yusheng design has become quite an art.
Chefs use a variety of ingredients, from herbal jelly and strips of bak kwa to wolfberries and housemade pickles in auspicious colours, to accentuate animal shapes and Chinese characters.
This year, there is a festive stampede for yusheng in the shape of horses and ones that depict the Chinese character "ma", which means horse.
SundayLife! found 10 Chinese restaurants that are offering equine-inspired yusheng platters to ring in the Year of the Horse.
They range from a majestic horse's bust to calligraphic horses hand-painted in olive oil and dusted with cinnamon powder to an impressive "horse" made up of a variety of sashimi.
Prices range from $58 for a four-person serving to $1,056 for a portion big enough to serve 30 people.
The trend for Chinese zodiac animal-shaped yusheng began two years ago, with the Year of the Dragon.
Typically, these novelty-shaped yusheng also contain more premium ingredients such as geoduck and lobster, in addition to salmon and ikan parang. Other variations also include caviar and gold flakes.
Hotels expect the horse-shaped yusheng to be well received this year.
Peony Jade at Keppel Club in Bukit Chermin Road, which is serving a horse-shaped yusheng that includes yellowtail sashimi and Australian abalone ($198.88 for 10 people), has received about 115 orders as of last week.
A spokesman for Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant at the Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium in Outram Road says: "It's something novel, and diners often feast with their eyes first. Having a horse-shaped yusheng definitely draws their attention to the details and structure. Also, as yusheng is primarily served as the first dish, the horse-shaped yusheng symbolises vigour and success."
What: Mark your Chinese New Year gathering with the Eight Joys Of Spring Yu Sheng from Carousel. It features eight herbal ingredients including American ginseng root, ginseng candy, salsify, Solomon's seal rhizome, red dates, wolfberry and herbal jelly.
The yusheng is topped with crunchy deep-fried rice vermicelli and a sauce made with lime juice, plum and orange.
Where: Royal Plaza On Scotts, 25 Scotts Road, Lobby Level
When: Until Feb 14, noon to 2pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily. Place orders between 11am and 9pm.
Price: $138 (serves four to six people), $168 (serves eight to 10 people)
Info: Call 6589-7788 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Order three days in advance. Available for both dine-in and takeaway, subject to availability. Last orders must be made by noon on Feb 12.
FENG SHUI INN
What: It takes about 30 minutes to meticulously plate this yusheng on the lazy susan. The raw fish salad features salmon cubes, crispy-skin mackerel, crispy water chestnut chunks, silver fish and bak kwa strips. The dressing is made with Italian balsamic vinegar mixed with plum sauce.
Where: Crockfords Tower, Level G2, Resorts World Sentosa
When: Until Feb 14, 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30 to 11pm daily
Info: Call 6577-6688. Dine-in only, order a day in advance.
What: For good luck and prosperity this Chinese New Year, toss to good health with Szechuan Court's Ultimate Success Yusheng that includes African abalone, salmon sashimi and Boston lobster - dressed in a special blend of sauces.
Where: Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road, Level 3
When: Until Feb 14, noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10pm, daily. It closes at 3pm for lunch on weekends and public holidays.
Price: $228++ (serves 10 to 12 people)
Info: Call 6431-6156 or e-mail email@example.com. Dine-in only. Advance orders are not necessary.
What: Capella Singapore's Chinese restaurant Cassia is presenting both of its yusheng platters - Signature and Traditional - with a galloping horse design.
For the Signature Yusheng, instead of the sweet plum sauce used in the Traditional version, the raw fish salad is dressed in a sweet and tangy roselle sauce. Salmon and lobster sashimi are served in individual portions for the Signature Yusheng, while the Traditional one includes salmon and tuna.
Where: Capella Singapore, 1 The Knolls, Sentosa, Singapore
When: Until Feb 14, noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily.
Price: For Traditional yusheng, $58++ a platter for two to four people, additional $38++ a platter for those having the set lunch menu.
For the Signature yusheng, $35++ a person. Prices are the same for takeaway yusheng.
Info: Call 6591-5045. Advance orders are not required.
What: The hotel's Triumph To Success Yusheng is presented in the characters of an auspicious Chinese proverb that connotes "immediate success with the arrival of the horse". It serves 30 people and includes fresh salmon, tuna, two-head abalone, truffle oil and gold flakes. There is also an option to include Italian caviar. Expect a refreshing yuzu dressing with a zesty aftertaste.
Where: Hilton Singapore, 581 Orchard Road, function rooms
When: Until Feb 14, dinner only.
Price: From $688++ (serves 30 people). Yusheng is available only for banquet dinners at the function rooms. The price for the yusheng is charged in addition to the set banquet menu price which starts at $688++ for a table of 10 people.
Info: Call 6730-3269 or e-mail sinhi. firstname.lastname@example.org. Orders for yusheng must be made three days in advance.
Yusheng is available only when a hotel function room is booked for a minimum of five tables.
Book as early as possible, preferably a week in advance.
What: Master Chef Leong Chee Yeng hand-paints each plate of yusheng with Chinese calligraphy-style drawings of horses or auspicious Chinese characters with olive oil, then dusts cinnamon powder over the painting. The yusheng features champagne jelly, salmon, olive oil and apple plum dressing, and edible gold leaves.
Where: The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, 1 Fullerton Square, Lobby Level
When: Until Feb 14. 11.30am to 3pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily. It serves an a la carte dim sum buffet lunch on weekends and public holidays with two seatings, 11am to 12.45pm, 1.15 to 3pm.
Price: From $58++ (serves four people), $78++ (serves six people), $118++ (serves eight people), $128++ (serves 10 people)
Info: Call 6877-8188 or e-mail email@example.com. Advance orders for dine-in are recommended although not necessary. Take away orders without drawings or calligraphy are also available.
What: Complement your horse-shaped yusheng with premium ingredients such as lobster and abalone with gold flakes; hamachi and salmon; or the "Fu Lu Shou Tri-star" with lobster, salmon and jellyfish.
Where: Conrad Centennial Singapore, 2 Temasek Boulevard
When: Until Feb 14, 11.30am to 2.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 10.30am to 2.30pm (Sundays), 6.30 to 10.30pm (dinner daily).
Price: $300++ (dine-in yusheng for 20 people), from $108+ (takeaway for 10 people)
Info: Call 6432-7482 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Order three days in advance, last day for orders is Feb 11. Available for both dine-in and takeaway.
What: Peony Jade's horse-shaped yusheng, which requires two hours of plating, features ingredients such as hamachi, Australian abalone, fish roe and wasabi ebiko (prawn roe). It is dressed in a tangy yuzu sauce and truffle oil.
Where: Available at only its Keppel Club outlet, Bukit Chermin Road.
When: Until Feb 14, 11am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm (weekdays), 10.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 11pm (weekends)
Price: $198.88 (serves 10 people)
Info: Call 6276-9138 or 6276-8327. Orders should be made at least a day in advance. Dine-in only.
MAN FU YUAN
What: Man Fu Yuan's horse-shaped yusheng is made up of 26 ingredients and the giant version - for 30 people - weighs approximately 42kg. It requires three staff to complete the assembly in one hour. Premium ingredients in the dish include geoduck, Japanese amaebi (shrimp) and Australian lobster.
Where: Intercontinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road
When: Until Feb 14, 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm, daily.
Price: Additional $288++ (serves 10 people) or $888++ (serves 30 people) on order of the signature Prosperous Man Fu Yuan Yu Sheng ($168++).
Info: Call 6825-1062. Order a day in advance, last day for orders is Feb 13. Available for dine-in only.
XIN CUISINE CHINESE RESTAURANT
What: Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant features horse-shaped yusheng in two set menus. The Bountiful Harvest menu includes the Xin's Gold Leaf Australian Lobster, Fresh Abalone and Salmon Yusheng, which has premium one-head abalone from Australia. The Auspicious Blossoms menu features Xin's Superior Seafood Yusheng, which includes Australian lobster, salmon, tuna, Japanese sweet prawns, geoduck and ikan parang.
Where: Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, 317 Outram Road
When: Until Feb 14, noon to 2.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 10.30am to 2.30pm (Sundays), 6.30 to 10.30pm (dinner daily).
Price: $2,014++ (Auspicious Blossoms set for 10 people), $3,999++ (Bountiful Harvest set for 10 people). Other yusheng options can be customised into the horse shape too, for an additional $60 fee.
Info: Call 6731-7173 or e-mail email@example.com. Order three days in advance. Available for dine-in only.