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Dumplings (ba zhang) for Dragon Boat Festival 2019: Unusual versions to try

Besides commemorating fealty and filial piety, the Dragon Boat festival is also a great excuse to indulge in dumplings — filled with extravagant ingredients of course.

Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant

Li Bai goes a little more healthful for this year’s Dragon Boat Festival with their new kurobuta pork, black truffle, and quinoa dumpling (available in small and regular sizes). The parcels come stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, salted egg yolk, chestnut, and conpoy all scented with the heady aroma of black truffles. Meanwhile, the quinoa is mixed into the glutinous rice for a more interesting texture. For the traditionalists, there’s the traditional rice dumpling, which comes with pork belly, roast duck, and all the other umami-packed customary ingredients like dried shrimp and conpoy. Another perennial favourite is their abalone and pumpkin rice flavour, with features an entire five-head head abalone accompanies sweet pumpkin and mung beans.

Available 20 May to 7 June 2019.

Sheraton Towers, 39 Scotts Rd, Tel: 6839 5623

(Related: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)

Hai Tien Lo

Hai Tien Lo keeps it traditional this year, with a new pork belly and salted fish flavour that includes mushrooms and peanuts for comforting, familiar flavours. For those with a sweet tooth, they’ve re-created the ubiquitous red bean and sago dessert as a translucent-skinned “crystal” dumpling. Also back this year are their family-sized jumbo parcels — filled with roasted duck, pork belly, various Chinese preserved meats, and all the usual suspects — as well as Nonya and Cantonese-style variations.

Available 6 May to 7 June 2019.

Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square. Tel: 6826-8240

(Related: Blossom, new Cantonese restaurant at Marina Bay Sands, serves stellar Peking duck)

The dumplings

  • Li Bai's traditional rice dumpling
    Li Bai's traditional rice dumpling

Resorts World Sentosa

Celebrate duan wu jie in the biggest way possible with Resorts World Sentosa’s Dumpling Feast, a collection of five parcels of delight, each from one of their celebrity restaurants. From Chinese restaurants Feng Shui Inn, and Forest 森 comes two classics: the Hong Kong Fisherman abalone and chicken dumpling; and a version with braised pork belly and chestnut. The former highlights Australian 10-head abalones, and roasted, salted chicken breasts with conpoy; while the latter features rice that has been stir-fried with X.O sauce and curry powder to give it a fragrant lift. Meanwhile, Osia Steak and Seafood Grill is offering lemongrass-scented Iberico pork mushroom dumpling; while Japanese restaurant Syun returns with their popular unagi rice parcel. There’s even dessert — restaurant Tangerine’s contribution is the Kao Niew Ping, a take on the traditional Thai street dessert with purple sweet potatoes and coconut milk-infused Thai sticky rice, all wrapped in banana leaves and grilled until fragrant.

Available 6 May to 4 June 2019, three days advance order required. Collection at Feng Shui Inn.

26 Sentosa Gateway. Tel: 6577-6688 or 6577-6599

Peach Blossoms

Besides the traditional dialect variations like Cantonese-style dumplings — filled with abalone, pork belly, mushrooms, chestnuts, and salted egg yolk — Peach Blossoms will have some novel offerings this year. Tuck into a regionally-inspired version filled with kurobuta rendang and otah; and a dessert-like spin with Japanese purple sweet potato with egg custard. For the vegetarians, there’s one filled with spiced mock meat and healthy cordyceps flowers. Every purchase of the gift set comes with a complimentary jar of Peach Blossoms’ homemade dried shrimp chilli paste.

Available 8 May to 7 June 2019.

6 Raffles Blvd Level 5, Marina Mandarin, Marina Square. Tel: 6845-1111

(Related: Where to find the best Cantonese restaurants around the world)

Shang Palace

Helmed by chef Mok Kit Keung, who previously led Shang Palace Kowloon to two Michelin stars, Shang Palace will be presenting three modern-style flavours, and two traditional ones this year. For a dose of extravagance, head for the roasted goose, golden chestnut and foie gras dumplings; or a crowd favourite: whole abalone with black truffle paste. Even the vegetarian option is a doozy — their Eight Treasure dumpling with mixed grains comes with healthful ingredients like cordyceps flowers and quinoa all stuffed into a bamboo tube that imparts a light fragrance to the rice. For those keeping things classic, Shang Palace’s signature barbecued pork flavour gets an umami update with aged Yunan ham, roasted duck, conpoy, pork belly, and salted egg yolk. Meanwhile, two dessert variations make the list: one stuffed with red bean paste and 20-year aged mandarin peel; and one stuffed with sweetened lotus paste.

Available 2 May to 4 June

Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore. 22 Orange Grove Road. Tel: 6213-4473

Man Fu Yuan

Man Fu Yuan presents some nontraditional flavours this year: chicken, dried shrimp, and the widely-loved lao gan ma chilli sauce all stuffed into glutinous rice marbled blue with butterfly pea flowers. There’s also a Hakka preserved vegetable dumpling, stuffed with tender braised pork belly, sweet preserved mustard greens, and mushrooms. In addition to the usual Cantonese and Nonya variations, they’ve also got lye dumplings (kee zhang) in two flavours, red bean and black sesame.

Available 20 May to 7 June

InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road. Tel: 6825-1008

Wan Hao

Upping the ante this year is Wan Hao’s luxurious 10-head abalone, whole chicken, conpoy, and shiitake mushroom rice dumpling. The savoury behemoth feeds 10 people and comes stuffed with multiple heads of abalone, and a whole chicken.  Also new this year is the locally-inspired white pepper crab dumpling, stuffed with generous chunks of crab meat and black-eyed peas. For a meatless variation, head for their black truffle 5-grain vegetarian version; or one with sweet Japanese purple potato, kidney bean, and palm sugar rice.

Available 21 May to 7 June

Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, 320 Orchard Road. Tel: 6831-4605

Summer Palace

Summer Palace is back with their dumpling selection, showcasing a dumpling with dried oysters sea moss and kurobuta pork; abalone with dried scallops and roasted duck, a perennial favourite; a meat-free eight treasures dumpling filled; and a sweet red bean paste-filled parcel served with osmanthus honey.

Available from 25 May to 7 June

Level 3, Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Rd. Tel: 6725-3288

Crystal Jade

Over at Crystal Jade, a traditional Cantonese rice dumpling, stuffed with the usual chestnuts and mung beans, is given a twist with an inclusion of their signature roast pork belly and Taiwanese black bean sauce. Vegetarian options are also available with their shiitake mushroom and chestnut with black glutinous rice version. Both are offered alongside other such as a Hong Kong-style dumpling with Jinhua ham and conpoy, as well as their classic five-spice marinated pork flavour.

Available at Crystal Jade outlets from 6 May to 7 June

Cherry Garden

Find a special five grain rice dumpling – comprising brown rice, glutinous rice, black glutinous rice, sorghum and millet; wok-fried with chicken, chestnuts, mushrooms and oyster sauce – at the Mandarin Oriental’s Cherry Garden. Made after their well-liked five grain fried rice, this parcel is a healthier option for those counting the calories. Alternatively, opt for the classics like their black garlic with sea whelk and kurobuta pork, or the golden pearl rice dumpling with abalone, pork belly, mushrooms, chestnuts, mung bean and salted egg yolk.

Available from 28 May to 7 June

Marina Square, 5 Raffles Avenue. Tel: 6885-3500.

Mitzo

Head over to Mitzo’s at the Grand Park Orchard for traditional dumplings with a contemporary twist. Discover an abalone rice dumpling, stuffed with abalone, dried scallop, duck meat and kurobuta pork belly, or a kurobuta pork Nyonya dumpling filled with kurobuta pork belly and sliced winter melon. For desserts, enjoy the sweet rice dumpling with rose lotus paste, consisting of lotus paste, rose tea and glutinous rice.

Available from 14 May to 9 June

Level 4, Grand Park Orchard. Tel: 6603-8855.