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The best gourmet dumplings to indulge in for Dragon Boat Festival

There’s still about a month away from the Dragon Boat Festival, but it’s never too late to start thinking about indulging in rice dumplings. Traditionally these dumplings, wrapped with care in fragrant bamboo leaves, are made of glutinous rice and stuffed with nuts, braised meats and scallops.

Heritage places such as Kim Choo Kueh Chang and Hoo Kee Bak Chang are popular for their rice dumplings off-season. But the Dragon Boat Festival is a great opportunity to go beyond the usual formula for some indulgent mix of ingredients.

These restaurants are taking inspirations from traditional dishes and adopting a more international approach with their dumplings. Think foie gras and chestnuts stuffed with roast goose and grilled unagi served atop glutinous rice. These dumplings aren’t just great as impressive gifts, but also a real gastronomic delight to enjoy at home.

This year, Hai Tien Lo picks up cues from well-loved Cantonese dishes for its latest ensemble of hand-crafted rice dumplings. The new Classic Pork Belly and Salted Fish dumpling, stuffed with mushrooms and peanuts, is inspired by a traditional steamed pork dish from Guangdong Province. Another new addition, a rice dumpling with red bean and sago, is based on popular Cantonese dessert soups.

The restaurant’s also freshening its popular Jumbo Rice Dumpling. The dumpling now has roasted duck, alongside a whole bevvy of indulgent ingredients like pork belly, Japanese mushroom, scallops and salted egg yolk.

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Mitzo extends its contemporary approach of Cantonese cuisine over to traditional rice dumplings, weaving in some rather unexpected ingredients. The Sweet Rice Dumpling, for instance, sees a mix of white lotus paste perfumed with rose tea. The Nyonya dumpling here gets an upgrade, with Kurobuta pork belly and sliced winter melon stuffed within blue pea flower-dyed glutinous rice. If you’re looking for something ‘safe’, try the Abalone Rice Dumpling with scallop, Kurobuta pork belly and duck.

As with every Dragon Boat Festival, Resorts World Sentosa ropes in its celebrity restaurants for a collection of creative rice dumplings. This year, Forest whips up the Braised Pork Belly Chestnut Rice Dumpling with a spicy mix of house-made XO sauce and curry powder, wrapped in blue pea flower-dyed glutinous rice. Osia Steak and Seafood Grill’s dumpling features the tender Iberico pluma cut, chorizo and braised mushrooms. There’s also the return of Syun’s Unagi Rice Dumpling, with grilled Japanese unagi and shiitake. Dumplings are sold as a set, presented in a traditional bamboo steamer.

Shang Palace’s chef Mok Kit Keung marries tradition and global inspirations for his new curation of indulgent dumplings. The Roasted Goose dumpling sees bits of foie gras and sweet chestnuts, inspired by Mok’s travels to Paris. There’s also a more healthful offering available: the vegetarian Eight Treasure Dumpling with Cordyceps and organic quinoa packed into bamboo stems. The Whole Abalone Dumpling makes a return this year, perfumed with black truffle paste and salted egg yolk.

Wan Hao serves up the mother of all dumplings for this year’s Dragon Boat Festival. The restaurant’s mammoth-sized dumpling is stuffed with a whole chicken, whole abalone, dried scallips and shiitake — perfect for a party of 10 diners. There are some locally-inspired delights, such as the white pepper crab dumpling and the restaurant’s signature pork and salted egg yolk creation. Also worth trying is the sweet Japanese purple potato dumpling with kidney beans and palm sugar.

Jasmine Tay
Senior Writer
Jasmine Tay is the dining, culture and jewellery writer. She makes fine silver jewellery and causes mini-explosions in the kitchen when she can't afford fancy dinners. Sometimes she tells people what she thinks about art, and binges on the music of Danzig when they don’t agree.