Chinese New Year is associated with a whole lot of customs, ranging from spring cleaning to lion dancing. However, one of the most iconic traditions is the Lo Hei. What exactly is it? How did it come about and where can you get your hands on this one-of-a-kind dish when you’re in town? Keep reading to find out. You’ll also see some special deals at the end of the article which makes this enticing local cuisine worth every bite!

What is Lo Hei?

In order to understand what Lo Hei is, you will have to know what Yu Sheng is. Yu Sheng, which means ‘raw fish’ in Mandarin, is a large, colourful salad consisting of thin slices of raw fish and a variety of seasonings and vegetables. It’s also a Singaporean dish that many look forward to during Chinese New Year.

Top-down view of Yu Sheng

Yu Sheng is a word play which means both “raw fish” and “abundance of wealth”

A Cantonese word which translates to ‘tossing up good fortune’, Lo Hei is therefore the act of people gathering around the Yu Sheng and tossing up the dish while shouting words of blessings in Chinese. 

A family tossing Yu Sheng together

It’s believed that the higher the salad is tossed, the more prosperous the upcoming year will be!

But before the great tossing can commence, the preparation of the dish plays just as big a part in the tradition of Lo Hei. Often packed individually, the ingredients of a Yu Sheng need to be added into the salad together with auspicious sayings. And not just any saying — each ingredient is paired with a specific blessing to usher in the new year.

Tip: You will find that the ingredients offered in the Yu Sheng may differ from restaurant to restaurant, as there isn’t a fixed list to follow. Just have fun with whatever you have!

Ingredient Associated Blessings Translation

Raw fish

年年有余
(nían nían yǒu yǘ)

May you have a year of abundance
Pomelo/Lime 大吉大利
(dà jí dà lì)
Wishing you good luck and great prosperity

Spices

招财进宝
(zhāo cái jìn bǎo)
May you attract wealth and treasures

Oil/Plum sauce

财源广进
(cái yuán guǎng jìn

May wealth and riches come to you

Shredded carrot

鸿运当头
(hóng yǜn dāng tóu)
Wishing all the luck possible for the year ahead
Green radish 青春常驻
(qīng chūn cháng zhù)
May you have everlasting youth

White radish

步步高升
(bù bù gāo shēng)
May you continuously progress in life
Peanut crumbs 金银满屋
(jīn yín mǎn wū)
May your home be filled with gold and silver
Sesame seeds 生意兴隆
(shēng yì xīng lóng)
Wishing you business success

Deep-fried flour crisps

满地黄金
(mǎn dì huáng jīn)

May your path ahead be laden with gold

How did this practice come about?

Yu Sheng was originally brought into Singapore by Cantonese and Teochew immigrants from China, but it was quite a different dish then. 

The evolution into its modern day-style began with the legendary Four Heavenly Kings of Cantonese Cuisine — who worked as apprentices under Hong Kong Masterchef Luo Chen in the 1950s. Under his wing, they earned the nickname for their culinary prowess and ingenuity. Spreading out and opening restaurants all over Singapore, the four were sworn brothers who frequently met up to discuss innovative ideas and recipes — one of them being the Yu Sheng.  

The Four Heavenly Kings posing for the camera

The Four Heavenly Kings from bottom left to right — Sin Leong, Hooi Kok Wai, Lau Yeok Pui, Tham Yui Kai

So where can you try this dish for yourself? With an overwhelming variety of Yu Sheng to be sampled in Singapore, here are some recommendations to help narrow down your list.

For a traditional taste: Pu Tien Restaurant

Lo Hei from Pu Tien Restaurant

Get your hands on a delightful plate of Yu Sheng from Pu Tien Restaurant. Photo credit: Pu Tien Restaurant

A popular spot for Singaporeans to hold reunion dinners, Pu Tien Restaurant is one of the few restaurants that serves a version closest to the original Yu Sheng and provides an authentic experience. With several outlets around Singapore, it’s also one of the most convenient places to host a Lo Hei at!

For a novelty experience: Antoinette

Yu Sheng from Antoinette

The giant gold egg is the mainstay of Antoinette’s Queen Yu Sheng. Photo credit: Antoinette

For those who cannot stomach raw fish, a great alternative is Antoinette’s Queen Yu Sheng. This sweet Yu Sheng dessert challenges the norm, with the highlight of the dish being a giant chocolate egg found in the centre — one that you must break open with a wooden mallet provided before starting the festivities. 

For the time-strapped:

Stopping over for a short period in Singapore during Chinese New Year? Good news — you don’t have to leave the airport to sample this dish! Specially curated, here’s a list of Yu Sheng promotions you can find in the public areas of Changi Airport.

Restaurant Dishes on offer Ongoing Promotions*

TEAHOUSE by Soup Restaurant, Terminal 1

Reunion Takeaway Set (5 Pax)

Quote <SOUPCNY2018> to enjoy $10 off
Soup Restaurant Heritage, Terminal 2 Reunion Takeaway Set (5 Pax) Quote <SOUPCNY2018> to enjoy $10 off

Peach Garden, Terminal 2

Takeaway Yu Sheng 10% off

Swensen’s, Terminal 2

Fortune 18 Yu Sheng

Dine-in price: $23.90 (excluding service charge and GST)

Takeaway: $36.90 (excluding GST)

Paradise Dynasty, Terminal 3

Paradise Abalone Yu Sheng (10 Pax) $48.80 (additional 10% off exclusively for Citibank, Standard Chartered and PGR Card members)
London Fat Duck, Terminal 4 Salmon and Abalone Yu Sheng

Salmon: $38.80

Abalone: $68.80

*Terms & Conditions apply.

As a child, your parents might have told you not to play with your food. Yet Lo Hei is an exception to the rule. This beautiful dish encourages people to bond and have fun by shouting auspicious sayings at the top of their lungs while throwing food high in the air — the higher the better! This is the crux of the tradition. This is Lo Hei.