Chinese New Year of the Snake 2013, Singapore

Chinese New Year of the Snake

This is the third blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013Check out our previous blogposts in this series:

Mysaucepan and I are on a 3-week eating spree and will be blogging about our street food adventures with lots of photos and tweets about hawker favourites and local delights that will also cover Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of the Snake.

We would love your feedback on which are the foods you love and would also welcome any suggestions and recommendations that we should try during our trip in Singapore and Malaysia.

Bon appetite!!

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Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festival in the Chinese calendar. Although still vibrant, CNY festivities in Sydney where we live are limited to areas around Chinatown in Haymarket,  Chatswood, Burwood, Hurstville and other suburbs where the is a fairly large Chinese and South East Asia community.

Mysaucepan and I find it very exciting to visit family and friends in Singapore and Malaysia since these two countries have a significant Chinese population and the first two days of CNY are public holidays.

Many locals also take the opportunity to visit their families interstate and therefore, it is not uncommon that many local small businesses are close for up to a week or more during this festive period.

We are in Singapore at the moment and it is a good thing the hotel where we are staying is located in the heart of the Chinatown district. It is within walking distance to local tourist attractions such as Chinese and Indian temples, shops, cafes, restaurants and food hawker centres.

Since arriving in Singapore six days ago, we have been wandering through some of these fascinating places around Chinatown.

Chinatown Singapore

Chinese red laterns in Chinatown

Chinese red laterns in Chinatown

Singapore’s Chinatown comprise of five districts ~ Tanjong Pagar, Kreta Air (literally water car in Bahasa), Ann Siang Hill, Telok Ayer and Bukit Pasoh. The Urban Development Board has designated these districts to be conservation areas in 1989.

Although still having its ‘old world charm’ where you will see street vendors and small businesses on their daily routine, these areas have also evolved and cultivated its own unique identity over many decades.

Chinese new year cookies for sale in Chinatown

Chinese new year cookies and red packets or ang pows for sale in Chinatown

CNY is obviously a very important period to the local Chinese community in terms of its significance in the Chinese calendar as well as those doing business and earning a livelihood.

Mandarin oranges are a symbol of wealth and prosperty

Mandarin oranges are a symbol of wealth and prosperty

The streets and lane ways around Chinatown become a web of activity, teeming with people going about their daily lives and making preparation for the impending new year.

Mandarin oranges are symbolic gifts to family and friends during CNY because its pronunciation is phonetically identical with gold in the Cantonese dialect.

Pomelos are a symbol of family unity during Chinese New Year

Pomelos are a symbol of family unity during Chinese New Year

Pomelos are an important fruit during CNY that signifies family unity. Like the fruit, an offering of pomelo holds out the wish for a family to be large, whole and united.

Pomelos are also one of many important ingredients that go into the local traditional dish of yee sang or raw fish salad.

Nian gao or Chinese New Year cake

Nian gao or Chinese New Year cake

Nian gao or Chinese New Year cake is eaten mostly during this festive period to usher in good luck. In addition to it being a festive cake, it’s pronunciation is also a homonym for “higher year”.

Therefore, the Chinese believe that eating nian gao will bring oneself to achieve higher goals for the new year.

Lup cheong or Chinese sausages

Lup cheong or Chinese sausages

Chinese sausages or lup cheong are also popular gifts during CNY because they are an important part of Chinese cuisine.

As these sausages are usually dried, smoked and waxed, they have the option of being kept for a very long time before being used for a multitude of popular Chinese recipes.

Chinese waxed duck

Chinese waxed ducks

Chinese waxed and smoked ducks are also popularly eaten during CNY where they are steamed to be rehydrated.

These Chinese waxed ducks are usually eaten with rice and more for its flavour than its meat which is salty and very firm from being preserved.

Chinese lup cheong and waxed ducks

Chinese lup cheong and waxed ducks

We come across a vendor with a ‘Chinese sausage wall’ where literally thousands of Chinese sausages are hung up for sale.

Chinese preserved leg ham

Chinese preserved leg ham

Chinese preserved leg ham are usually used to make soups and broths because of its intense and smoky flavour.

Chinatown, Singapore

Chinatown, Singapore

School children in Chinatown, Singapore

School children in Chinatown, Singapore

CNY is also an important time for children who would no doubt be looking out for ang pows or red packets containing money from parents and relatives.

School children in Chinatown, Singapore

School children in Chinatown, Singapore

Chinese roast ducks, roast pork. soy sauce chickens and BBQ pork

Chinese roast ducks, roast pork, soy sauce chickens and BBQ pork

Food stalls and hawkers who sell Chinese roast ducks, roast pork, suckling pig, soy sauce chicken and BBQ pork are among the most popular during CNY.

Braised duck

Braised duck

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Singapore

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, 288 South Bridge road, Singapore

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Located on 288 South Bridge road, Singapore’s Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is place of worship that was built to house the historic tooth relic of Buddha.

Built at a cost of S$62 million in 2005, its architectural style is based on the Tang dynasty and this temple and museum was completed and officially opened on Vesak day on 31 May 2007 by The Honourable S R Nathan, the President of Singapore.

Worshippers at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Worshipers at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Admission to the temple and museum is free of charge and there are vegetarian meals served at the basement  and cash donations are accepted.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Street hawkers along a lane way in Chinatown

Street hawkers along a lane way in Chinatown

Mandarins are a symbol of wealth and prosperty

Mandarins are a symbol of wealth and prosperty

Mini pumpkins

Mini pumpkins

Chinese dried scallops

Chinese dried scallops

Chinese dried scallops are popular during CNY for a variety of Chinese dishes such as braised mushrooms and cabbage.

Lim Chee Guan sliced pork and pork floss

Lim Chee Guan sliced pork and pork floss

Lim Chee Guan sliced pork and pork floss

Sliced BBQ pork is one of the most popular gifts during CNY and I am told the Lim Chee Guan shop in Chinatown is a local institution for this item.

Lim Chee Guan sliced pork

Lim Chee Guan sliced BBQ pork

The queue for this sliced BBQ pork is truly one of the longest that I have ever seen.

As we walk past this area, the queue of people are literally in the hundreds, waiting patiently to reach the counters at the shopfront.

Queue for Lim Chee Guan sliced pork

Queue for Lim Chee Guan sliced pork

I am told some people will be willing to queue up to five hours just to buy this BBQ pork during CNY. Some others may resort to pay people who are willing stand in queue on their behalf.

Queue for Lim Chee Guan sliced pork

Queue for Lim Chee Guan sliced pork

Yet, there are also those who, instead of standing in queue, might bring their own fold up chair and sit in queue instead.

Iconic Singapore's People Park in Chinatown

Iconic Singapore's People Park Complex on New Bridge Road, Singapore

Chinese New Year decorations on New Bridge Road, Singapore

Chinese New Year decorations on New Bridge Road, Singapore

Chinese New Year ornaments in Chinatown, Singapore

Chinese New Year ornaments in Chinatown, Singapore

Chinatown, Singapore

Chinatown, Singapore

South Bridge Road, Singapore

South Bridge Road, Singapore

The giant decorative snake that has been put up along South Bridge Road turns into a meandering yellow lantern at night time.

South Bridge Road, Singapore

South Bridge Road, Singapore

This snake is a cute giant number giving this busy road its own unique charm to usher in the Year of the Snake for 2013.

Happy Chinese New Year to all our Chinese readers, friends and family.

As my family is Cantonese, we shall say Kung Hei Fatt Choy!

So dear readers, if you celebrate Chinese New Year, what is your favourite food and thing to do during the festive period?

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For more information about Chinese New Year in Singapore, visit the following websites:

Chinatown Singapore

Visit www.chinatown.sg for more information. To find out how to get to Chinatown and for more visitor information, click here.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
288 South Bridge Road
Singapore

Tel: +65 6220 0220

Operating hours: Open 7 days from 7am to 7pm including public holidays

Admission is free and vegetarian meals are served in the basement. Cash donations are accepted.

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6 Responses to Chinese New Year of the Snake 2013, Singapore

  1. Hey Chopin…check out the FB of my favourite food writer..I always go with her recommendations..and she seems to be an ace cook
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/TanHsuehYun

  2. Winston says:

    Oh my gosh this post makes me feel so, so nostalgic. Especially cause it will be the first time I’m spending CNY in Australia! Never been away from family during CNY since I was born so this should be interesting! You really showcased everything that I love about CNY. The warm, vibrant atmosphere and the old school charm of these places. I hope you and MSP have a great time with friends and family this CNY. Gong Hei Fatt Choi!

  3. Happy Chinese New Year! I remember being in Hong Kong for CNY many many years back and it was so lively and extremely busy! Lovely photos :)

    Not traditional but it’s a family tradition that I started 3 years ago haha. I think yee sang is a Malay-Chinese thing? Cantonese people don’t usually celebrate CNY with yee sang. But I love eating yee sang and we wrap it up in rice paper after the tossing it complete.

  4. That must be some amazing bbq pork! Having said that, I’m a fiend for bbq pork so I’d probably queue :P

  5. Happy New Year!! Wow it’s great that you are in Singapore to celebrate the new years. We have a dinner get together but that’s about it. Have a great celebration with your family and friends! Oh and enjoy the food!!

  6. irene says:

    Never seen a queue so long for a BBQ pork!
    Gong xi fa cai, Chopinand & Mysaucepan!

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