Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, one thing’s staying the same for us this Lunar New Year no matter the social-distancing restrictions — stuffing our faces with turnip cakes, taro cakes, and sweet glutinous rice pudding.
These three cakes and puddings are the classic trio of Chinese New Year treats. The basic ingredients for turnip cakes (蘿蔔糕 law bahk go) are shredded radish and rice flour. But you’ll usually also find more luxurious ingredients such as preserved meat, shiitake mushrooms, and conpoy in the CNY versions. Taro cakes (芋頭糕 woo tau go) are denser and more satisfying, and made similarly as turnip cakes are. The key difference is the addition of five-spice powder, which gives it a more intense flavor.
The perfect ending to every CNY meals and gatherings, glutinous rice puddings (年糕 neen go) is chewy, sticky, sweet, and also a symbol of good fortunes. “年” is year, and “糕” sounds the same as high in Cantonese, together meaning “reaching higher places every year”. Some like to fry until the edges are crispy, and some prefer dipping into egg before pan-frying to prevent sticking and to give some extra texture.
Read on to find out where to get your hands on these delicious CNY treats!
This family-style restaurant in Wan Chai is famous for their delicious Cantonese dishes, which earned them a Michelin star in 2011. Their festive offerings are beloved for its quality and careful selection of ingredients. Their CNY turnip cake this year uses radishes grown in Yuen Long and locally-made preserved sausages. Naturally-derived palm sugar is chosen when making their glutinous rice puddings for its subtle coconut notes and low GI quality. There’s also a special water chestnut cake and red date coconut pudding.
Available for sale at Kin’s Kitchen from February 3 to February 10, 2021. Pre-order vouchers also available in batches on their website.
5/F, W Square, 314-324 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2571-0913
One of the most well-known premium Cantonese food brand, Dashijie offers some of the best XO sauces and dried noodles on the market. The brand comes up with something new for annual CNY cakes, and this year there’s the Japanese daikon turnip cake, as well as a vegetarian turnip cake with porcini mushrooms.
Available at City’super, Sogo Causeway Bay and online.
The Royal Garden
The Sha Tin hotel’s Chinese restaurant offers deluxe cakes as well as gift boxes every year. The deluxe turnip pudding is made of premium ingredients including Japanese daikon, dried scallops, shrimps and preserved sausages. The deluxe low sugar red date pudding is great for the more health-conscious as it uses a special recipe that highlights the red date’s sweetness and fragrance with reduced sugar.
Available online here.
KiKi Noodle Bar
KiKi Noodle Bar isn’t satisfied with capturing our hearts with their delicious boba teas and noodle sets, they’re also out to do so with their CNY cakes and puddings that feature a unique Taiwanese spin. Popular since their debut in 2018, the KiKi Taiwan Dried Longan and Brown Sugar Pudding features longan from Taiwan’s Zhuqi and Chiayi made with a traditional roasting technique, while KiKi Taiwan Dried Sakura Shrimp Turnip Pudding is made with sun-dried sakura shrimp from Taiwan.
Various locations including ifc mall in Central, K11 Musea in Tsim Sha Tsui, and Pacific Place in Admiralty.
Vegetarian-friendly options for a green CNY
My Meat Run Buddy 走肉‧朋友
Popular for their vegetarian renditions of Cantonese dishes, the modern vegetarian restaurant is offering six meatless CNY cakes and puddings. Other than vegan turnip and taro cakes, there are a variety of sweet pudding flavors to choose from, including classic black sugar (人氣黑糖年糕), spicy ginger (夠薑年糕), goji berries and red date (杞子棗皇糕) and water chestnut (香甜馬蹄糕).
Preorder the cakes here (Chinese only).
Ahimsa Buffet x HKrobertgo
The vegetarian buffet restaurant’s CNY turnip cake features local organic radishes grown lovingly by hkrobertgo, a farmer’s collective in Hong Kong promoting local radishes, which are surprisingly sweet and juicy in flavor. Other than turnip cakes, Ahimsa Buffet has also created a vegan red bean pudding and crunchy water chestnut pudding for those who prefer more refreshing flavors.
Available online here (Chinese only).