Oi, all of you jiak kantang one ah. You have less than a month to brush up on your mandarin if you want the God of Fortune to hear you yelling auspicious Chinese New Year sayings as you “lo hei” your way to happiness and wealth!
“Lo hei” literally means “toss up” in Cantonese, and is the act of, well, tossing the yu sheng (魚生) salad to symbolise reaching for greater heights (prosperity lah).
But to huat, you need to first “invest”.
Also watch: Chinese New Year Goodies. Is expensive always better?
Yu sheng price guide (2020) – supermarkets vs restaurants vs hotels
… In a yu sheng platter, that is. Depending on your budget, here are your options:
Affordable yu sheng from supermarkets – under $20, excluding raw fish
If you just need a cheap “token” platter to lo hei for tradition’s sake, you can easily find vacuum-packed yu sheng at any nearby supermarket. They cost between $12 to $20, but that’s excluding the raw fish, which is kind of the expensive thing.
Traditionally, the “yu” in yu sheng is raw salmon, which you can pick up at Fairprice too. How much it’ll cost depends on how much fish you want – duh – but from personal experience, $20 buys my family of 4 more than enough salmon. Add that up and you’re looking at $32 to $40 for under 5 pax.
Some families also add sliced abalone (about $40 per can).
But not everyone is satisfied with budget yu sheng. In true Singaporean fashion, many local restaurants go all out to huat by pimping up their festive platters with expensive seafood like lobsters and abalone.
Let’s have a look at the next tier of yu sheng options.
Classic yu sheng from popular restaurants – under $100
|Classic yu sheng (restaurants)||Yu sheng platter||Price|
|Pu Tien||Prosperity yu sheng — raw salmon slices||$29.80 (S) / $49.80 (L)|
|Prosperity yu sheng — abalone||$39.80 (S) / $59.80 (L)|
|Dian Xiao Er||Prosperity smoked salmon yu sheng||$34.80 (M) / $58.80 (L)|
|Prosperity gui fei abalone yu sheng||$38.80 (M) / $64.80 (L)|
|Sushi Tei||Prosperity yu sheng (with 16 slices of salmon)||$38.80 (M) / $44.80 (L)|
|Little Sheep Hot Pot||Prosperity yu sheng||$39.90|
|Paradise Group||Prosperity abalone yu sheng with tangy plum sauce||$46.80 (M) / $66.80 (L)|
|Blue Lotus||Signature Blue Lotus yu sheng||$48 (M) / $68 (L)|
|Crystal Jade||Reunion smoked salmon yu sheng||$52.22 (M) / $77.90 (L)|
|Reunion baby abalone yu sheng||$58.64 (M) / $88.60 (L)|
|Peach Garden||Smoked salmon yu sheng||$75.11 (M) / $104 (L)|
|Petite abalone yu sheng||$84.74 (M) / $113.63 (L)|
Cheapest salmon yu sheng: Pu Tien (from $29.80)
The more affordable restaurant yu sheng platters most feature raw salmon as the main “yu” because it’s cheap. That said, if you go the supermarket route you could probably get more fish for the same price. The cheapest salmon yu sheng is from Pu Tien, where it is $29.80 for the small portion.
Cheapest abalone yu sheng: Dian Xiao Er (from $38.80)
Most platters in the under-$40 zone are salmon, with the exception of Dian Xiao Er that has abalone yu sheng from $38.80. That is the small portion though, and won’t feed more than 5 to 6 pax.
Premium yu sheng from hotels – up to $336 a platter!
|Premium yu sheng (hotels)||Price||Cheapest platter||Most expensive platter|
|Yan Ting (St Regis Singapore)||$68 to $298||Prosperity yu sheng, sea coconut (vegetarian) $68 (S)||Prosperity yu sheng, supreme 10-head abalone $188 (S) / $298 (L)|
|Summer pavilion (Ritz Carlton)||$70 to $336||Vegetarian yu sheng $70 (S)||Hokkaido king scallop, black caviar yu sheng $168 (S) / $336 (L)|
|Song Garden (Mercure Singapore Bugis)||$78 to $168||Prosperity salmon yu sheng $78 (S)||Prosperity bamboo lobster yu sheng $118 (S) / $168 (L)|
|Min Jiang (Goodwood Park)||$108 to $168||Blessings of Fortune Yusheng $108 (S)||Joyful Abundance yusheng $168 (L)|
|Summer Palace (Regent)||$88 to $138||Smoked salmon / salted egg yolk crispy fish skin / purple cauliflower with lily bulbs vegetarian $88||Lobster / bird’s nest & pear / Mexican abalone $138|
|Raffles Hotel||$179.76 to $211.86||Fortune yu sheng $179.76||Prosperity yu sheng $211.86|
Then of course, there are the hotels and Michelin-star restaurants that cater to the crazy rich Asians. Most of their cheapest platters are either the basic salmon or vegetarian ones, and those are around $70 to $80+ for a small serving.
The fancy recipes, on the other hand, have no price limit. Summer Palace at Regent Hotel has yu sheng platters that feature lobsters, Mexican abalones and even bird’s nest ($138).
If you’re willing to splash some $300 on lo hei, then why not get something a little more special? Summer Pavilion at the Ritz Carlton has a Hokkaido king scallop and black caviar yu sheng that’s $336 for a large portion.
Bonus – what’s the meaning of yu sheng & lo hei?
Whichever platter you buy, none of it has meaning unless you understand the significance of the lo hei tradition. The name “yu sheng” plays on the words “yu” (魚 for fish & 馀 for abundance) and “sheng” (生), which means “raw” but can also mean “life”.
Chinese families gather for reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve and begin their meal with tossing the salad, all while shouting “huat ah!”
Contrary to popular belief, you’re only supposed to recite the specific Chinese New Year sayings when you’re “assembling” the yu sheng ingredients before the great toss up.
When you toss, you’re only supposed to shout “huat ah!” 7 times for good luck. The higher you toss, the better your luck!
My personal recommendation is using those super long chopsticks meant for frying food – not only can you reach greater heights (literally), you can also avoid the nasty bits of flying veggie from your relative’s unskillful tossing.
Lo hei sayings & Chinese New Year greetings
To seal the deal on your 2020 fortune, here’s a helpful guide on the lo hei ingredients and what you should say while plating them (in order).
|Ingredient (in order)||What to say|
|Raw fish||年年有馀 (nian nian you yu)|
|Pomelo||大吉大利 (da ji da li)|
|Oil||财原广进 (cai yuan guang jin) or 一本万利 (yi ben wan li)|
|Carrots||鸿运当头 (hong yun dang tou)|
|Green radish||青春常驻 (qing chun chang zhu)|
|White radish||风生水起 (feng sheng shui qi) and 步步高升 (bu bu gao sheng)|
|Peanuts||金银满屋 (jin yin man wu)|
|Sesame seeds||生意兴隆 (sheng yi xing long)|
|Crackers||遍地黄金 (bian di huang jin)|
|Plum sauce||甜甜蜜蜜 (tian tian mi mi)|
Where are you ordering your yu sheng from? Share your favourites ones with us below!