Chilli Manis Catering: Treat your guests to symbolic dishes at your reunion dinner this Chinese New Year 2023

We’ve just wrapped up our Christmas celebrations but the festive mood isn’t over just yet! With Chinese New Year just around the corner, wouldn’t it be nice to sit back and relax without the stress of cooking? I’ve got the perfect solution: call Chilli Manis Catering.

chilli manis - summary

Similar to a plate of yusheng where every element represents something auspicious, there’s a symbolic meaning behind traditional dishes that we have for Chinese New Year. It’s believed that we’ll be blessed with an abundance of good luck and fortune when we relish them.

Let’s take a look at the significance of the various dishes I had at my lavish feast with Chilli Manis Catering.

1. Nonya Curry Chicken – Togetherness

chilli manis - chicken curry

A chicken is usually served in its entirety to signify togetherness. Chicken (pronounced as “ji” in Chinese) actually means prosperity and good luck too.

This explains why chicken is extremely popular at family reunion dinners, where relationships are strengthened and bonds are tightened.

The Nonya Curry Chicken had chunks of chopped tender chicken in a delectable curry gravy. Whether you’re pairing it with rice, bread or simply having it on its own, the flavourful curry will win you over. It also was served with chunks of potato and loads of curry leaves.

2. Curry Assam Fish – Prosperity

chilli manis - fish curry

Fish (pronounced as “yu” in Chinese) sounds like the word for abundance and surplus. It is customary to offer fish for reunion dinners especially on the eve of Chinese New Year.

Often the last dish to be served, fish is symbolic of the host wishing his/her guests continual abundance and prosperity. The Chinese always believe that as long as there’s surplus annually, they’re able to push it forward to the following year to gain even more.

The auspicious saying for eating fish is 年年有馀 (pronounced as “nian nian you yu” in Chinese) which means: may you have abundance year after year.

chilli manis - eggplant

The Curry Assam Fish had generous chunks of lovely flaky fish, which were soaked in a wonderfully-spiced curry gravy filled with aromatic curry leaves. It was served with juicy tomato quarters, thinly-sliced okra and strips of eggplant.

3. Loh Han Vegetables – Longevity, Family Harmony, Renewal, Innocence, Happiness & Good Luck

chilli manis - loh han veg

Loh Han Vegetables (also known as Buddha’s delight) is a dish consisting of various vegetables. Vegetables themselves symbolise renewal and wealth but there are other traditional vegetables which represent something specific as well.

  • White cabbage: Innocence
  • Carrots: Good Luck
  • Broccoli: Health, Happiness & Liveliness
  • Black fungus: Longevity
  • Corn: Fertility
  • Cauliflower: Blossoming Year & Purity  

4. Crispy Cereal Prawn – Happiness

chilli manis - cereal prawn

Prawn (pronounced as “har” in Cantonese) echoes the sound of laughter which is generally associated with joy and happiness. They’re a very popular dish present in most reunion dinner menus.

The Chinese believe that the more prawns you consume, the happier your family will be throughout the year.

chilli manis - cereal prawn closeup

The Crispy Cereal Prawns were coated in a golden layer of scrumptious crispy cereal adorned with fried curry leaves and chilli padi. The prawns were so well-fried that I could eat it together with the shell intact— super satisfying!

5. Mala Siew Mai – Family Reunion and Wealth

chilli manis - mala siew mai

Dumplings are a traditional dish with a long history dating back thousands of years. They’re usually eaten on the eve of Chinese New Year, mainly in China.

Due to the gathering of family members preparing dumplings together before midnight, it’s said that they signify family reunion.

They also represent wealth because their shape resembles ancient Chinese money. It’s believed that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more wealth you can amass.

chilli manis - mala siew mai closeup

Mala enthusiasts will absolutely love the robust spices present in the Mala Siew Mai with the subtle numbing effect on your palette. Pair it with the sweet chilli dip which balances out the spicy flavours to a tee.

6. Longevity Long Spring Rolls – Wealth

chilli manis - spring rolls

Spring rolls derive their name from the spring festival (also known as Chinese New Year). They’re made of rolls from thin dough wrappers which are shaped like cylinders, and are usually filled with vegetables or meat.

After the spring rolls are fried, the golden-brown colours resemble bars of gold, which represents wealth and prosperity for the entire year ahead.

chilli manis - spring roll closeup

The Longevity Long Spring Rolls were still delightfully crispy even though they were delivered. They were stuffed with bits of savoury turnip and carrots.

I gave the spring rolls a mini spicy citrus spa by dunking them into the chilli dip— simply divine!

The lavish Chinese New Year feast from Chilli Manis Catering also included Blue Pea Rice. Not only was it visually stunning with its baby blue speckles, the perfectly-cooked rice was also incredibly flavourful and aromatic with a rich coconutty taste.

chilli manis - blue pea rice

chilli manis - blue pea rice closeup

The beautifully chopped Roast Duck was served with a side of refreshing pickled vegetables which helped to cut down the richness of the meat. The dish also came with a garlic chilli dip and hoisin sauce.

chilli manis - roast duck

chilli manis - roast duck dip

To end my meal on a sweet note, we had not one, but two desserts!

The refreshing Grass Jelly with Longan was all we needed to battle the sweltering heat in Singapore. The minty flavours of the fluffy jelly paired really well with the sweet and juicy longans.

chilli manis - chin chow

The Mini Chocolate Eclairs were filled with luscious cream and the rich chocolate on top was literally the icing on the cake.

chilli manis - eclair

Final thoughts

With such delicious and modern heritage offerings for your Chinese New Year feast, rest assured that you’re in good hands with Chilli Manis Catering.

They have a smorgasbord of buffet sets for you to choose from, which allows you to handpick specific dishes to your preference.

Click here to view their Chinese New Year 2023 offerings.

Expected damage: S$24 – S$43 per pax

*This article was brought to you in partnership with Chilli Manis Catering.

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

Chilli Manis Catering

1 Enterprise Road, Singapore 629813

Our Rating 4.5/5

Chilli Manis Catering

1 Enterprise Road, Singapore 629813

Operating Hours: 9am - 7pm (Mon to Thu), 9am - 6pm (Fri to Sun)

Operating Hours: 9am - 7pm (Mon to Thu), 9am - 6pm (Fri to Sun)
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