Let’s face it, no Dragon Boat Festival is complete without tucking into a couple of servings of rice dumplings.
The relationship between rice dumplings and the Dragon Boat festival stems from a myth more than 2000 years ago in ancient China: the story is that a Qu Yuan, celebrated poet, patriot and an imperial adviser threw himself into the river when a rival kingdom occupied his home. The locals then dropped rice balls in the river to stop the fish from eating his corpse when they were unable to locate his body.
Whether this story is true remains debatable, but it remains a fact that the annual Dragon Boat Festival has been tied to these beautifully wrapped rice packages for as long as anyone can remember. Over the years, restaurants and hotels have made it a point to fashion new flavours and decadent ingredients into the mix, resulting in novel creations even more unique and indulgent than the year before.
If you’re suffering from the paradox of choice with so many rice dumpling variations around, don’t fret. Here’s a neat list of our favourite ones worth savouring during the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on 3 June this year.
The best rice dumplings to sample this Dragon Boat Festival 2022
Yi by Jereme Leung
Join the celebrations with the exquisite rice dumplings from Yi by Jereme Leung. This year, the Raffles Hotel Singapore restaurant has introduced a selection of tempting creations, including the Braised Pork Belly With Preserved Mustard Rice Dumpling and the Butterfly Pea Flower Kee Chang with Raffles Signature Kaya Jam. The former is crafted with glutinous rice that envelopes around a mix of tender pork belly and preserved mustard vegetables, while the latter comes with a 200 gram bottle of Raffles Signature Kaya Jam.
Those looking to impress should grab a share of the Traditional Abalone & Jinhua Ham Glutinous Rice Dumpling, a hefty bamboo-leaf-wrapped parcel generously stuffed with ingredients such as the 12-head abalone, Jinhua ham, Japanese dried scallops, roast duck, pork belly and chestnuts.
The rice dumplings are available for self-collection and delivery from now to 5 June 2022.
Jade restaurant has introduced a vegetarian-friendly Truffle and Trio Mushroom Five-grain Rice Dumpling, which is a guilt-free treat with its nourishing mix of king oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts and plant-based meat. It’s also available as part of the restaurant’s Auspicious Greetings hamper, which features six dumplings in assorted flavours such as Traditional Hong Kong-style Abalone Treasure Rice Dumpling, Nostalgia Five-spice Pork Rice Dumpling and Blue Pea Nyonya Rice Dumpling.
Delivery and self-pickup are available until 3 June.
Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant
Indulge in the festivities with the hearty rice dumplings from Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant. The traditional Chinese restaurant, located at Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, debuts two luxurious flavours this year. The intriguingly-named Abalone With Karasumi & Conpoy offers decadence in every bite with its premium ingredients paired with karasumi (salted mullet roe), while the Chinese Rice Wine Salt Baked Chicken promises to be a deliciously comforting concoction. For bak zhang purists, Wan Hao’s repertoire also includes its Signature Pork And Salted Egg Yolk dumpling. Place your orders now until 3 June.
Resorts World Sentosa
Resorts World Sentosa has an incredible box up its sleeve this year, complete with an assortment of five rice dumplings specially handcrafted by the expert chefs from across Resorts World Sentosa including Feng Shui Inn, Osia Steak and Seafood Grill, Syun, and — for the first time — Michelin-starred Table65. The latter has whipped up a European-inflected dumpling filled with smoked eel and tender pork tendon. Other highlights at Resorts World Sentosa include Feng Shui Inn’s Eight Treasures Dumpling, which is crammed with an indulgent combination of ingredients such as 10-head abalone, waxed duck, and cordyceps flower; and Syun’s Zakkoku Okowa Dumpling — a Japanese-inspired creation brimming with steamed kurobuta pork belly, prawns, sakura ebi and zakkoku (a 16-grain mix).
This luxurious box is available for orders from now to 4 June. You can also opt for an amped up set that comes with three teas from Tea Chapter.
Man Fu Yuan
It’s all about flavour over at Man Fu Yuan. The award-winning restaurant from Intercontinental Singapore is celebrating the festivities with eight varieties of handcrafted rice dumplings this year, each crafted to create a nostalgic experience for the diner. Headlining its repertoire this time is the XXL Jumbo Dumpling with Chicken, Mushrooms and Chinese Sausages Wrapped In Lotus Leaf, which as its name suggests, is an upsized option packed with ginger chicken, spring onions, dried shrimps, sausages, and salted egg yolk. It even comes with a complimentary green pyramid-shaped reusable carrier. Other new additions include the Black Bean Chicken Rice Dumpling, and Spicy Mala Pork Belly And Abalone. Those who’ve enjoyed Man Fu Yuan’s dumplings in the past can look forward to its signature X.O. Sauce Nyonya Rice Dumpling once again, stuffed with minced pork marinated in X.O. chilli sauce and sweetened with strips of winter melon and dried shrimp.
Order now until 3 June.
Shang Palace has rolled out a wide variety of sweet and savoury rice dumplings that’ll please every palate. The Truffle Pork Rice Dumpling with Salted Egg is a scrumptious mix of melt-in-the-mouth braised pork belly, chestnuts and black truffle paste, while the vegetarian-friendly Dried Sarcodon Organic Grains And Vegan Chicken Glutinous Rice Dumpling is a nutritious yet tasty blend of red beans, green beans, wolfberries, corn, quinoa, lotus seeds, peanuts, mushrooms and tender pieces of plant-based chicken. If you’re in the mood for something less conventional, try the Black Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Japanese Purple Sweet Potato Custard, which is almost dessert-like with its oozing core of sweet potato custard ensconced within mochi dough.
If you’re looking for a gift for your loved ones, the Shang Palace Dumpling Gift Set and Heritage of Asia Rice Dumpling Gift Set are perfect options. Both come in an elegant triangular box, with the former featuring options like the restaurant’s signature Barbecued Pork Rice Dumpling With Yunnan Ham And Conpoy and Traditional Nyonya Rice Dumpling. The latter boasts interesting flavours such as the luxurious XO Sauce Parma Ham Foie Gras Roasted Chicken, White Lotus Seed Paste And Truffle Honey Alkaline Water Rice Dumpling (a sweet dumpling that reminds us of mooncake with its white lotus filling that gushes out) and the Thai-inspired Pad Kra Pao Moo (Stir-fried pork with basil) — which packs a spicy punch with bits of chopped chilli nestled amidst its rice grains.
Available for self-collection and delivery until 3 June.
Joo Chiat Kim Choo
Joo Chiat Kim Choo, not to be confused with the other heritage brand, Kim Choo Kueh Chang, has introduced a new limited-edition Emperor’s Heirloom gift set, which features six of its Emperor’s Dumplings tucked inside a striking hexagonal box (in red or purple) designed by local leather craft brand Bynd Artisan. Made using a secret recipe featuring 22 spices, the delectable dumplings are generously stuffed with ingredients such as succulent braised pork, dried scallops, lup cheong (Chinese sausage), salted egg yolk, gingko nuts, chestnuts and shiitake mushroom. Every bite is bursting with flavour, making these dumplings particularly satisfying to devour. Also available this year from Joo Chiat Kim Choo is a Memory Trove Gift Set, which comprises eight dumplings (in options like Hokkien Rice Dumpling and Nonya Rice Dumpling) and a kueh salat cake presented in a green box.
(Main and featured image: Shangri-La Singapore)