The traditional ritual of tossing yee sang started after World War II when a caterer in Seremban decided to revive the Chinese ancestral culture of eating raw fish during auspicious celebrations in an attempt to rebuild his business during Chinese New Year. He sourced for seven local vegetables – each with its own symbolic representation – garnished them with raw fish and tossed them in a mixture of sweet plum sauce, oil, salt and pepper.
As superstitious as it sounds, yee sang tradition has become one of the must-haves during Chinese New Year reunion dinners, especially on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year when it’s everybody’s birthday. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity and raw fish for success – the reason why yee sang is something most Chinese families cannot do without during this auspicious day.
In other words, yee sang is a traditional recipe that has been perfected over the years with everything ‘calculated’ precisely to symbolise a year of abundance. The use of plum sauce, for instance, grants the person a smooth sailing year while lime represents good luck and great profits. And those crispy chips – it brings you wealth and prosperity.
That’s why it is quite a rowdy scene when you see people tossing yee sang in restaurants or at home with wishes of good luck, great fortune and youth. Tradition aside, yee sang has now been seen as a delicious starter to Chinese New Year luncheons and dinners – a must have in any family gatherings or home parties during this time of the year.
Ready to toss for abundance? Here are nine restaurants offering yee sang takeaways for you to choose from.
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The St Regis KL’s Prosperity Yee Sang is a recipe handed down from generation to generation of its owning family, Puan Sri Sharon Chua’s ancestral kitchen. While the secret to the special yee sang lies in an undisclosed ingredient, the platter is made of finely chopped vegetables and sliced fruit accompanied by assorted nuts, seeds and a homemade sauce. Choose between the salmon and jellyfish option or the abalone and soft-shell crab version. There’s also a vegetarian rendition. (Available from 5 January to 19 February 2019)
St Regis Kuala Lumpur, No 6, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2727 1111
This year’s signature yee sang at Tao Chinese Cuisine stars sea cucumber. There is also another version with soft shell crab served alongside a wasabi dressing. If you’re planning to do a takeaway, make sure you order one day in advance. (Available from 7 January to 19 February 2019)
Tao Chinese Cuisine, Intercontinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, 165 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2782 6168
Executive Chef Philip Leong has prepared the HARHARHAR Prosperity Platter comprising fresh seafood ingredients such as salmon and white fish sashimi, along with jicama, carrot, beetroot, dragon fruit, rose apple and seaweed. There is also another version with a whole lobster (an ingredient known to represent happiness) for you to ring in Chinese New Year with good fortune, wealth and prosperity. (Available from 20 January to 25 February 2019)
Nobu Kuala Lumpur, Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2164 5084
Four creatively crafted yee sang is available at Yen featuring interesting combinations of fruits and seafood. There’s a jellyfish yee sang that is topped with Korean snow pear and avocado oil if you want to try something different for a change. Traditionalists can opt for the salmon yee sang that is served with air-dried Szechuan fish chips and crispy fish skin. But if you’re looking to get something to ‘wow’ your guests, the abalone yee sang with caviar, gold flakes and truffle oil is definitely the way to indulge. (Available from 7 January to 24 February 2019)
Yen Restaurant, W Kuala Lumpur, 121, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2786 8888
Chynna is upping the ante this year by incorporating macadamia nuts and strawberries in its yee sang. Enjoy large whole strawberries that are tossed in a special homemade plum sauce. The sweet and sour flavours of the dish, must we say, make for quite an appetising starter for a reunion dinner. There are also other versions with Norwegian salmon, grilled squid tentacles and salted egg yolk soft shell crab with crispy fish skin. (Available from 7 January to 24 February 2019)
Yun House has unveiled its first-ever yee sang dish with five varieties including vegetarian, salmon belly, toro, two-head abalone and Australian lobster. If you’re planning to get your yee sang takeaway here, be sure to add on its signature roasted duck as well as the fish-shaped nian gao. (Available from 15 January to 19 February 2019)
Yun House, Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur, MY-10, 145, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2382 8640
You cannot get anything more innovative and pretty than Ruyi & Lyn’s yee sang offering this year. The platter comes with a pair of kois (made of julienned carrots and daikon) served with blue-dyed puff rice crispies, kuih kapit (in a rose mould) and Japanese sea grapes. If you want to impress your guests, Ruyi & Lyn’s 28K Golden Koi ‘YU’ Sang is definitely a crowd-pleaser. (Available from 7 January to 24 February 2019)
Ruyi & Lyn Restaurant, Bangsar Shopping Center, 285, Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bandaraya, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2083 0288
Red scores points for creating a guilt-free yee sang with plenty of greens, fruits and dehydrated root vegetables. The Fresh Fruits and Garden Greens Yee Sang is served with Red’s very own homemade sauces and comes with a variety of toppings including salmon, tuna, jellyfish, sea urchin, tempura prawn, crispy whitebait, black truffle, abalone, crispy soft shell crab and crispy fish skin. (Available from 4 January to 19 February 2019)
Red Chinese Cuisine, Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre Hotel & Residence, 4 Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2170 8888
Join in the ritual of tossing yee sang for prosperity and good luck with five tasty yee sang offerings at Lai Po Heen. Choose between the abalone or salmon with assorted vegetables, or the pan-seared scallops or soft shell crab with snow pear options. For your vegetarian friends, go ahead and take away the vegetables and fruit version that comes with a delicious sesame dressing. You can also order your yee sang online here. (Available from 9 January to 28 February 2019)
Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2179 8885