Singapore, June 23, 2012
After a delay of one month, the Rice Dumpling festival is finally here - today.
Because there are two Lunar fourth months in the Chinese calendar this year, the Bak Chang or Duan Wu Jie arrives late this year.
Also known more widely as the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, it is celebrated throughout China and countries with Chinese communities.
In Singapore, the dumplings made by the Hong Kong Cantonese restaurants are becoming more and more creative, unveiling some surprises in their fillings this year.
Like goose webs, whole pork rib and even fruit and vegetable flavours like lychee and mountain yam.
Here are my favourites and overall winners:
For overall, excellent quality of dumplings using good ingredients, are nicely seasoned and well cooked, here are the winners:
- Crystal Jade group of restaurants and cake shops, Tung Lok group of restaurants and Jiang-nan Chun of Four Seasons Hotel.
You can enjoy the dumplings at their restaurants today, and probably tomorrow too, if you hate the hassle of heating them up and washing the crockery.
Crystal Jade: Apart from the delicious Hong Kong style 'pillow dumplings that are so wonderfully flavoured with dried scallops and salted yolks, I like one of their healthy versions - Brown Rice Dumpling.
Under the brown rice are fillings of pork, salted yolks, chestnuts, lotus seeds, peanuts and black-eye peas. In fact, the other Crystal Jade dumplings have healthy beans like mung beans added to give more fibre to aid digestion.
Tung Lok: The Monk Jumps Over The Wall, which has abalone, scallop and fish maw, and Hong Kong style dumplings are all well made with quality ingredients and well seasoned till mouthwatering.
Jiang-nan Chun: This Four Seasons Hotel has hired a top Crystal Jade chef for its Chinese restaurant. So you can expect the dumplings to be high quality and yummy. Like its birdnest-filled Hong Kong dumplings and superb XO Meat Dumpling.
Other dumplings that I like:
Conrad's Golden Peony: The Bak Kut Teh dumpling with whole piece of 'dragon' rib and flavoured with herbs like tangkwei is a welcome change.
Man Fu Yuan: This restaurant in Inter-Continental Hotel offers two very interesting dumplings. One is embedded with gelatinous French goose webs and flavoured with abalone sauce. The other is a fantastic meat dumpling flavoured with XO sauce.
Mandarin Court: This Chinese restaurant in Meritus Mandarin offers a deluxe Hong Kong style dumpling packed with very good quality seafood like abalones and dried scallops. Delicious flavours and aromas exude from this dumpling.
Jade, The Fullerton Hotel: If you are health conscious and don't like dumplings to be too salty, you might like its Hong Kong dumpling which has less salty glutinous rice. Or go for its Vegetarian Five Crop dumpling which is made with brown rice, black fungus, chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms and Job’s Tears.
Good Hong Kong style Dumplings
You can find very decent Hong Kong style dumplings at the following restaurants: Paradise group of eateries; Summer Pavilion (Ritz-Carlton Singapore), Hua Ting (Orchard Hotel), Cherry Garden (Mandarin Oriental).
Hua Ting offers a Hong Kong dumpling with smooth and crunchy yam while Cherry Garden uses lychee liquor and dried lychees to infuse its pork dumpling.
Good vegetarian or no-meat dumplings
Apart from those already mentioned, Crystal Jade offers fruit-pudding dumplings of assorted flavours that you can serve as a dessert. I also like Din Tai Fung's red bean paste dumpling, lovely when eaten cold.
Click on the thumbnails below to see pictures of dumplings for Dragon Boat Festival 2012: