As a restaurateur and mother of two young kids, Elizabeth Thea leads a busy life. But when Chinese New Year rolls around, nothing is more important than family. During the festive period, she makes it a point to spend time with those close and dear to her, and she does it by observing time-cherished traditions.
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When and where would you usually have your reunion dinner?
We follow the norm and have our reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. In terms of where, we like to do something different every year. It could be in our home, my in-laws' place or dine out at Coca Restaurant or a new restaurant. We always discuss our reunion dinner plans as a family.
Now that we have kids (Riley Eljan, 6, and Alessandra Skye, 2), I prefer organising reunion dinner in our home so the kids can experience a family gathering in their own home without having to rush through dinner within an allocated time at a restaurant. Since I married 14 years ago, reunion dinner has always involved both sides of our family, and I'm quite grateful for that.
What are the must-have dishes on the table?
Yee sang, of course. We will also always have a traditional poon choi with abalone, tiger prawns and other seafoods served with premium shiitake and broccoli. Both yee sang and poon choi are ordered from Coca Restaurant.
The rest of the meal will be made up of a combination of Nonya and Cantonese dishes. I will cook Kiam Chai Boey (mustard green stew), Jiu Hu Char (fried jicama with cuttlefish) served with Chinese lettuce and sambal belacan, steamed cod fish, fried or roast chicken, Fish Gulai Tumis and Chap Chye (stir fry mixed vegetables).