Lo-hei symbolises well-wishes and yearnings for good blessings and good fortune. Check out our recommendations of "lo-hei" varieties from Chinese to Japanese to Indian to Malay.
With the New Year fast approaching, there is only one thing on every food-lover’s mind – Yu Sheng! This dish is a requisite at every reunion dinner table for its symbolism of good fortune.
The Origins Of Yu Sheng
The tradition of eating thinly sliced raw fish strips began in ancient China where fishermen would feast on their catch on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year. In the colonial days of Singapore, local porridge stalls sold a simple dish of raw fish, turnip and carrot strips drizzled with vinegar, oil and sugar. It wasn’t until 1964 that Master Chef Than Mui Kai created the modernised Yu Sheng that Singaporeans have come to love. A dish symbolising prosperity and good health for the Chinese, the original Yu Sheng consists of 27 auspicious ingredients such as:
- Lime and pomelo – good luck and good fortune (大吉大利)
- Pepper – the scattering of treasures (招财进宝)
- Sesame oil – wealth flowing in from all directions (财源广进)
- Shredded carrots and red pickled ginger – brings good luck with their red colour (鸿运当头)
- Shredded green radish and Chinese parsley – everlasting youth (青春常驻)
- Shredded white radish – progress at work (步步高升)
- Chopped peanuts – signifies gold and silver (金银满屋)
- Sesame seeds – flourishing and prosperous business (生意兴隆)
- Deep fried flour crisps – representative of golden pillows filled in your home (偏地黄金)
- Sweet plum sauce – to have sweet relationships with your loved ones (甜甜蜜蜜)
- Five spice powder – symbolises the arrival of the five fortunes (五福临门)
- Raw fish slices – signifies abundance (年年有余)
Diners would gather around the table and say auspicious wishes as they toss the Yu Sheng as high as possible to represent their desired growth in fortunes.
Fancy variations of Yu Sheng
Yu Sheng has been given many modern twists over the recent years, the most noticeable being the change from the traditional raw mackerel slices to raw salmon due to the popularity of Japanese salmon sashimi. There are also many restaurants that replace the fish with lavish ingredients such as raw ebi (Japanese sweet prawn), scallop, lobster or abalone.
With the multicultural nature of Singapore, Yu Sheng has also taken on international flavours. Restaurants are serving the dish with the gustatory traits of Thai, Japanese, Indian and Peranakan cuisines. Halal and vegetarian versions are also available in the market to meet any diner’s requirements.
Where to eat Yu Sheng this year in Singapore?
Lai Wah Restaurant
Blk 44 Bendemeer Road #01-1436
Tel: 6294 9922
The birthing home of the modernised Yu Sheng, Lai Wah restaurant has been in business since 1963. Try the authentic traditional Yu Sheng served with Ikan Parang, priced from $28 for a serving for 4 to 6 persons.
Fuku Ichi Japanese Dining Restaurant
111 Somerset Road, #02-11/12 TripleOne Somerset
Tel: 6271 5586
Aside from salmon sashimi Yu Sheng, Fuku Ichi also offers assorted sashimi Yu Sheng served in the restaurant’s original Fukuichi recipe for $38+ and $68+ respectively.
The Song of India
33 Scotts Road
Tel: 6836 0055
For an ethnic alternative, try the Indian Yu Sheng which is served with tandoori salmon fillets, pineapple, masala peanuts coriander and broccoli, along with mint, date and tamarind chutney. Prices start from $28 a serving.
100 Orchard Road, Concorde Hotel Level 1
Tel: 6739 8370
Created by their Peranakan chef, Baba Jolly Wee, the restaurant’s Yu Sheng includes jellyfish, kaffir lime, ginger flower and a special belacan sauce. Priced from $12 for a small portion, this dish is recommended for diners who love spicy food!
Pagi Sore Indonesian Restaurant
88/90 Telok Ayer Street, Far East Square
Tel: 6225 6002
This restaurant serves Halal Yu Sheng for Muslim foodies who are interested to try out this Lunar New Year dish.
Amara Singapore, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road. Tel: 6222 4688
Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, 1 Larkhill Road, Sentosa. Tel: 6825 3881
This restaurant serves Thai style Yu Sheng with pomelo, mango, deep-fried yam and sweet spicy sauce. Prices are $68 and $98 for the salmon version, and $98 and $148 for the abalone version.
When you “lo-hei” with your friends, family or business associates, remember to chant the blessings of the auspicious ingredients. Gongxi Facai!!! May you have a prosperous and healthy New year!!