In the second episode of the Peranakan Diaries video series, EIC Kenneth Goh explores the cultural significance of fashion and food traditionally associated with the Lunar New Year. He brings his mum Teresa Ooi to the atelier of Singaporean fashion designer Lai Chan where they learn about the leitmotifs employed in the creation of his figure-flattering cheongsams. They take a little wander through Chinatown and visit some of their favourite confectionery stores for festive cookies and cakes. They also savour a selection of refined Straits Chinese dishes at the Michelin-starred Candlenut restaurant, helmed by chef Malcolm Lee, vaunted for his modern twist on Peranakan cuisine. “I’ve always wanted to share more about my Peranakan heritage and culture with our readers. With my mum, whom I see as a modern day Nonya, we explore the many facets of our Chinese New Year traditions from fashion to food and superstitions, all in the name of luck and prosperity. May the Year of the Rat bring you much love and luck always! Gong xi fa cai!”
What are the three things you’re looking forward to eat during the Chinese New Year?
Kenneth Goh: I miss my grandmother’s pineapple tarts and thankfully my aunt has picked up the skill brilliantly. And of course, we always pick up bak kwa and love letters from our favourite shops in Chinatown.
How will you be celebrating with your family?
KG: Reunion dinner used to be a grand tok panjang affair but today it’s a lot simpler and we do the healthier steamboat version that everyone loves. And of course, the tossing of the yu sheng, which is the only time we are allowed to make a mess at the dining table.
What’s a Chinese New Year tradition that you still observe?
KG: I’m embarrassed to say that I still accept angpows from my younger married relatives but hey, I used to change their diapers so it’s payback time.
Creative Director: Windy Aulia
Stylist: Gracia Phang
Videographer & Editor: Ewan Lim/ Ohai Media
Assistant videographer: Mark Chan
Hair & Makeup for Kenneth Goh: Manisa Tan
Hair & Makeup for Teresa Ooi: Grego
Manicure: Audrey Wee
Stylist’s Assistant: Navin Pillay