Nyonya Yee Sang At Peranakan Place 1 Utama

Nyonya yee sang at Peranakan Place 1 Utama
Nyonya yee sang at Peranakan Place 1 Utama.

I had my first taste of yee sang when I was around thirty years old. My taste buds have never stopped craving for this unique dish since. It is a must-have on the seventh day of the Chinese New Year called the “yan yat” (Human Day). This practice is somewhat diluted by commercial considerations as yee sang in boxes were already available at the supermarkets in December. Restaurants have also started serving the yee sang although the Chinese New Year is three weeks away still.

Nyonya yee sang at Peranakan Place 1 Utama
Nyonya yee sang at Peranakan Place 1 Utama.

While looking for a place to have our dinner at 1 Utama Shopping Centre, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Peranakan Place at the first floor of the old wing had Nyonya yee sang in their promotion menu. We have never had Nyonya yee sang before and we wanted to see if it was any different from the regular ones. I did not check out the ingredients individually. However, I noticed that there were no pickles or colourful crispy shredded stuff like those usually served in Chinese restaurants. The taste was not any different except this was a little too sourish to my liking. We did not order anything else as the dish priced at RM36++ was just nice for two persons.

Yee Sang For Abundance And Prosperity

Yee sang
Delicious Yee Sang at Han City Restaurant in Ipoh on the first day of Chinese New Year.

Among the delicious Chinese New Year dishes, my favourites are the hou si fatt choy, fish maw soup and yee sang. Hou si fatt choy is a dish of braised dried oysters, black moss and shitake mushrooms. I cannot take too much of the hou si fatt choy because of my diet. However, I make up for that by feasting on yee sang. This dish is only available during the Chinese New Year.

Yee sang is a dish of raw fish (usually salmon slices), julienned jelly fish, chillies, raw, kaffir lime leaves, papayas, carrots turnips, pickled ginger, sesame seeds together with crispy yam and vermicelli, crushed peanuts and other ingredients. Lime juice is added to marinate fish slices. Plum sauce and sesame oil is added last after which diners use chopsticks to toss the ingredients to mix them well. The act of tossing is called “lou hei” which is the homophone of rising propserity.

Yee sang is eaten on yan yat which falls the seventh day of the first month in the Chinese calendar. This is the day when humans were created according to Chinese legends. Yee sang sounds like growing abundance and Chinese love to eat anything with an auspicious sounding name. On the other hand, I like it because it is tasty and only available this time of the year.

However, the exclusivity of eating yee sang on yan yat is lost to commercial concerns. Supermarkets were displaying packed yee sang for sale one month before Chinese New Year. Many restaurants already had yee sang in the menu two weeks before the New Year. We had yee sang during the reunion dinner (tuan yuan fan) and New Year lunch (kai nian fan) in Ipoh, and another when we celebrated the occasion on the third day with William, Cynthia and Emily in Kuala Lumpur. Nevertheless, I am going to drag Wuan to another yee sang for dinner later. Today is after all the day for yee sang.