Chinese New Year goodies celebs love to pig out on

Local stars describe in yummy detail which snacks they like to hog during CNY

Chinese New Year goodies celebs love to pig out on
Chinese New Year goodies celebs love to pig out on
22 Jan 2019

Chinese New Year goodies celebs love to pig out on

When it comes to food, celebrities are just like us. They have their guilty pleasures and comfort foods that they can’t say no to. With Chinese New Year just two weeks away, we caught up with some local stars to find out what festive goodies they are most looking forward to pigging out on. Warning: Don’t read this when you are hungry.

Zoe Tay
Zoe Tay
22 Jan 2019

Zoe Tay

Favourite CNY snacks: Sunflower seeds and nuts

Regardless of how busy Zoe is, she always makes time for her festive shopping at the Chinatown bazaar so she can check out and sample new varieties and flavours of seeds and nuts like black groundnuts and even leopard print ones.

“I like sunflower seeds too and during Chinese New Year, you can find flavoured ones at the bazaar. I am very skilled at eating them – you have to bite and twist to shell it. I think I started snacking on them after I had a pet squirrel. I used to watch it eat and decided to try it for myself. I snacked on this so often that everyone called me a bird. But I don’t eat shelled sunflower seeds. The joy is in shelling it by mouth,” said Zoe.

We recommend: Striped groundnuts and gula melaka sunflower seeds from King of Melon Seeds

The striped groundnuts ($14 for 500g) from India have an aromatic roasted flavour, while the gula melaka sunflower seeds ($13 for 500g), which are sweet and roasted to crispy perfection, are wickedly addictive.

Available online or at Takashimaya’s Chinese New Year fair till Feb 3.


Desmond Tan
Desmond Tan
22 Jan 2019

Desmond Tan

Favourite CNY snack: Love letters

Forget mass produced love letters (“they taste like plastic!”), Desmond only wants the handmade ones – extra points if they are done the old school way over a charcoal flame. During his heyday, he could polish an entire tin of egg rolls in one day, despite his queer way of savoring them.

“I used to unroll the love letter and nibble it bit by bit, but over the years I’ve become lazy. I have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) so I cannot stand it when people eat it downwards like they are drinking from a straw and the crumbs end up all over the floor. I have to eat [with the egg roll pointing upwards]. I do this also because I have dogs and I don’t want them to pick up the scraps,” revealed Desmond.

We recommend: Premium Love Letters from Kele ($21.80)

Kele may be known for their pineapple tarts but their love letters, which are eggy and crispy, are a winner too. Oh, did we mention they are made the traditional way?

Available online or at their store at 2 Smith Street, Singapore 058917.

Photo: Toggle, Kele

Shane Pow
Shane Pow
22 Jan 2019

Shane Pow

Favourite CNY snack: Kuih Loyang

The first thing Shane heads for at the Chinese New Year snack table is kuih loyang, or honeycomb cookies. Crunchy, aromatic and addictive, Shane prefers his cookies sweeter and sprinkled with sesame seeds. “The nice ones don’t smell of oil. And how I enjoy it is I will nibble around the edges first before eating the middle. It also helps to kill time,” laughed Shane.

We recommend: Kuih Loyang from Nineteen Niche ($15.80)

Light and not too sweet, these intricate golden brown cookies are dotted with sesame seeds that add fragrance to the snack. The staff at the confectionery told us that they do not reuse the oil for frying so you don’t have to worry about a stale oil smell. 

Available at Nineteen Niche outlets at 49 Stirling Road #01-479, Singapore 141049, and Beauty World Centre, 144 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, #04-K3, Singapore 588177.

Photo: Instagram/@shanwpowxp, Nineteen Niche

Jeffrey Xu
Jeffrey Xu
22 Jan 2019

Jeffrey Xu

Favourite CNY snack: Seaweed crackers

Though Jeffrey rarely spends Chinese New Year in Singapore, he hankers for one local snack each year – seaweed crackers made by one of his fans. “They are so fragrant and addictive!” raved Jeffrey. “Those that are homemade somehow taste different from store-bought ones, so I find this rather special. I usually just take one bottle from her because I shouldn’t be eating so much of it. It is very salty and heaty!”

We recommend: Seaweed Roll from Bake Inc ($18.80)

Seaweed is layered on filo pastry skin and fried to a crisp. Light and aromatic, it’s like eating seaweed on potato chips. Shiok!

Available at various outlets including 449, Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, #01-1713, Singapore 560449, or at Takashimaya’s Chinese New Year fair till Feb 3.

Xiang Yun
Xiang Yun
22 Jan 2019

Xiang Yun

Favourite CNY snack: Pineapple tarts

We have not seen anyone as crazy about pineapple tarts as Xiang Yun. Not only would she stock up on a variety of pineapple tarts, she would go around sampling them at her friends’ homes during visitations. Despite this, she is quite the pineapple tart snob. Only the homemade ones (preferably the “enclosed” version so there’s more pastry to pair with the filling) are worth her calories.

“I really like the ones my friend makes. She uses peanut oil, as opposed to butter, to make the pastry so it is very fragrant. When you bite into it, you can taste the peanut followed by the sweet pineapple filling,” said Xiang Yun. “But she doesn’t bake them every year and sometimes I have to beg her for it. She hasn’t made them this year, otherwise I would get two tubs to bring with me when I go to China for filming.”

We recommend: Lime Pineapple Tarts from Provisions ($21.80)

A zesty take on the festive treat, these golden balls of goodness are buttery and crumbly, with a tinge of kaffir lime. Not your traditional tart, but it’s refreshing and not too sweet. We like! 

Available online or at Takashimaya’s Chinese New Year fair till Feb 3.

Photo: Toggle, Provisions

Wong Jinglun
Wong Jinglun
22 Jan 2019

Wong Jinglun

Favourite CNY food: Hakka abacus seeds

What Jinglun craves for the most are traditional Hakka delicacy abacus seeds, or suan pan zi, a sautéed yam gnocchi dish that his grandmother used to make during Chinese New Year. “I am Hakka so we will eat abacus seeds (which signifies wealth) during Chinese New Year. But it is very labour-intensive and my grandma is getting on with age, so I haven’t had it in a few years,” said the Taiwan-based singer-host.

We recommend: Traditional abacus seeds from Pang’s Hakka Delicacies ($8 for 250g / $30 for 1kg)

Like his cakes and pastries, bossman of Antoinette café chef Pang Kok Keong’s rustic abacus seeds have captivated the hearts and stomachs of many. Painstakingly shaped by hand then sautéed with minced pork, dried shrimps, mushroom, cuttlesfish and black fungus, these soft and chewy yam beads are sure to bring back memories of grandma’s cooking.

WhatsApp 9021 7507 to order.

Photo: Toggle, Pang's Hakka Delicacies

Romeo Tan
Romeo Tan
22 Jan 2019

Romeo Tan

Favourite CNY snack: Kueh bangkit

Romeo is a purist when it comes to kueh bangkit and every year, he will stock up on the ones from local brand Home’s Favourite. Airy, milky, with a coconut-y aftertaste, the actor is so obsessed with these melt-in-your-mouth cookies that he can inhale half a bottle in one go.

“I like the traditional ones, not those with special flavours. But I will keep the good ones in my room and leave those that are not so fresh in the living room for guests. Shucks, my mum is going to scold me when she reads this!” confessed Romeo.

We recommend: Kueh Bangkit from HarriAnns ($20.90)

These powdery cookies are so light and fragrant that you don’t feel guilty having one too many. Well, at least we don’t.

Available online and at various outlets including Tiong Bahru Market, 30 Seng Poh Road, 02-25, Singapore 168898.

Photo: Toggle, HarriAnns

Andie Chen
Andie Chen
22 Jan 2019

Andie Chen

Favourite CNY snack: Nian gao fritters

Though most festive goodies are out of bounds for Andie due to his allergies – anything with eggs and milk are no-nos – one snack that he can freely indulge in are nian gao (glutinous rice cake) fritters, a specialty of wife Kate Pang (she even makes her own nian gao!). Instead of coating sliced nian gao in egg batter, Kate wraps them in wanton skin before pan-frying. The result? A flaky pastry that is crispy on the outside, and chewy and soft on the inside.

“I’m not sure if she adds any secret ingredient but it is very delicious. And sometimes fried nian gao can get very messy if you leave it sitting out for too long but hers is very neat. It looks a bit like a square samosa,” said Andie.

We recommend: Xin’s Nian Gao with Coconut Sauce ($48)

Take your fritter to another level with Xin Cuisine’s nian gao which is made with sweet coconut paste for added indulgence and dimension of flavour.

 Available till Feb 16 via online order.

Photo: Toggle, Xin Cuisine

Shaun Chen
Shaun Chen
22 Jan 2019

Shaun Chen

Favourite CNY snack: Mini pork floss rolls

Though you can get pork floss rolls any time of the year, Shaun only has the mini crispy popiah snack during Chinese New Year. His favourite is the one his mum used to make and he likes to pair it with red wine. Fancy.

“I like to snack on it after a meal but I won’t go overboard because there are a lot of other goodies to eat. Thankfully no one has ever commented that I gained weight during the holidays, maybe it’s because I have never been slim to begin with!” he joked.

We recommend: Golden Floss Rolls from Bee Cheng Hiang ($11.50)

These are pork floss rolls on steroids. Made with Bee Cheng Hiang’s floss, the upsized rolls are not only packed with more floss, but are also crispier than your regular floss rolls.

Available at all Bee Cheng Hiang outlets.

Paige Chua
Paige Chua
22 Jan 2019

Paige Chua

Favourite CNY snack: Spicy shrimp rolls

Also a fan of mini popiah snacks is Paige, but she likes them with the spicy hae bi hiam (dried shrimp) filling, though the super-disciplined actress only allows herself a few pieces of the treat: “It is spicy, a little sweet, plus I like fried food and savoury food so it’s got a little bit of what I like in there.

“But I won’t buy it myself because if I do, I will finish the entire bottle. I will just have a few at my parents’ place. I read that you’re only supposed to have five pieces – and that’s already a lot of calories. I’ve definitely taken more than five in one shot and I felt super guilty after that.”

We recommend: Chilli Shrimp Prawn Roll from Provisions ($15)

Mildly sweet and fiercely spicy, these tiny popiah made with fragrant dried shrimp sambal filling from Indonesia are da bomb! We bet Paige won’t be able to stop at five if she gets her hands on these.

Available online or at Takashimaya’s Chinese New Year fair till Feb 3.

Photo: Toggle, Provisions

Zhang Yaodong
Zhang Yaodong
22 Jan 2019

Zhang Yaodong

Favourite CNY food: Cured meat rice (la wei fan)

La wei fan is a must for Yaodong’s family during Chinese New Year and the one his mum makes is his favourite. Cooked with preserved meats including lup cheong (Chinese sausage), liver sausages and waxed duck, the rice is infused with all the oil and flavours from the meat.

“I love my mum’s cooking and in my opinion she makes the best cured meat rice. Even though she chides me for eating too much, she will cook it for me. She has switched to cooking it with basmati rice because it is healthier and I find that it is less oily and more aromatic too. Maybe it’s because I like nasi briyani (which uses basmati rice) so this is like a combination of all my favourite dishes,” Yaodong’s eyes lit up as he told us.

We recommend: Reunion Abundance Wealth la wei fan from Peony Jade ($88, serves 4-6)

Not the healthiest but the generous serving of sausages and homemade air-dried duck drumsticks, smoky aroma and the crispy rice grains make this one-pot dish worthy of its price tag.

Order at Peony Jade outlets or at Takashimaya’s Chinese New Year fair till Feb 3.

Photo: Toggle, Peony Jade

Carrie Wong
Carrie Wong
22 Jan 2019

Carrie Wong

Favourite CNY snack: Pistachio nuts

Carrie is a hardcore pistachio lover (you could say she’s nuts about nuts). She likes the nut in all forms (even pistachio tea) and gets her fix all year round. In fact, if you looked in her bag right now, you’d probably find a pack of it in there. Though you can buy pistachios shelled, she prefers to eat them straight out of the shell because “they just taste better”.

“I have a habit. I will remove all the shells first and then eat them all in one go. Actually I am someone who hates to shell food, be it prawns or nuts, but my love for pistachios overcomes everything. I am willing to do it for pistachios,” said Carrie. Now that’s true love.

We recommend: Pistachio Muah Chee from Jade Restaurant ($8 for 2 pieces)

The humble muah chee gets the gourmet treatment at Jade Restaurant. Instead of coating the glutinous rice snack, ground French pistachios are toasted before being stuffed in dough and steamed. The result is pillowy balls that look and taste more like a mochi than muah chee.

Photo: Toggle, Jade Restaurant

Chen Liping
Chen Liping
22 Jan 2019

Chen Liping

Favourite CNY food: Bak kwa

A list on Chinese New Year goodies would not be complete without perennial favourite bak kwa (barbecued meat jerky). At the top of Liping’s list is the fragrant and tender sliced pork jerky from Lim Chee Guan, which sees insanely long queues during the festive season each year.

“I like the sliced pork bak kwa, not those made with minced meat, and the bacon ones are good too. Actually I prefer the loose pieces that they sell, like the ends or chao tar (burnt) bits because those are the best parts. They aren’t so good for you health-wise, but they are very smoky,“ said Liping.

We recommend: Limited edition Barbecued Bacon Bak Kwa from Hock Wong ($48 per 600g; $72 per kg)

If you like your bak kwa sweet and fatty, this is for you. Made with premium pork belly, the streaky bacon bak kwa is extremely flavourful thanks to its luscious fat content, and comes individually vacuum-packed to preserve freshness of the jerky and seal in the smoky flavour.

Available online at hockwong.com.sg.

Fann Wong
Fann Wong
22 Jan 2019

Fann Wong

Favourite CNY snack: Bak kwa

Why are we not surprised that the Bee Cheng Hiang ambassador is a fan of bak kwa? Her favourite is the brand’s bacon bak kwa, which is marinated with a secret recipe, and only allows herself to indulge in it during Chinese New Year.

“I will feast on it from the first to the last day of Chinese New Year. The best way to enjoy it is to heat it up in the microwave then savour it with red wine. My son loves bak kwa too. He’s a picky eater and doesn’t fancy sweet stuff but bak kwa is an exception so we’ve been buying it for him.”

Photo: Toggle, Bee Cheng Hiang

Related:
12 piggy Chinese New Year treats that will make you squeal with delight

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