Cases soar, Ren Ri dine-ins drop


GEORGE TOWN: Many diners are opting to take away their Ren Ri dinner – an event on the 7th day of Chinese New Year, which is celebrated today – due to the spike in Covid-19 cases.

The Daily Fish Restaurant director, who only wanted to be identified as Yew, said some customers made last minute decisions to take away their dinners after seeing the daily infection numbers soar.

“They initially booked to dine in but had called to say they would take away instead.

He said although business was good for the Ren Ri dinners, it was still 20% fewer bookings than the reunion dinners.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Restaurant Association secretary-general Lyan Tan said that with Ren Ri falling on a Monday, it has become an auspicious day for companies to reopen for business.

As a result, many restaurants received bookings for company dinners that doubled as Ren Ri celebrations.

“Due to the rise in Covid-19 cases, many restaurants are offering self-pickup and delivery services.

Penang Cultural Inheritors Society chairman Kwoh Shoo Chen said Ren Ri was the day humans were created.

“It is celebrated not only in China but in the region influenced by Chinese culture.

“In Chinese mythology, Nüwa was the goddess who created the world. She created the animals on the first six days and human beings on the seventh day.

“Hence, the seventh day of Chinese New Year is viewed as the common “birthday” of all humans,” she said.

Kwoh said in Malaysia, many people would celebrate the special day with a seven-coloured cold vegetable dish served with raw fish called yisheng, or lou sang in Cantonese.

“The action of mixing up the seven differently coloured vegetables is called “lou” in Cantonese, which means “earning a lot of prosperity”.

“The local Teochew also prepare seven different vegetables as traditional good luck food during Ren Ri.

“The vegetables used are leek, celery, coriander, cabbage, spring onion (scallion), chives and mustard. Each vegetable is picked for their specific auspicious significance,” she said.

Penang Kwangtung and Tengchow Association chairman Datuk Lee Wing Kong said the Cantonese community celebrates Yan Yat (“everybody’s birthday” in Cantonese) by having fish porridge and longevity noodles.

“In Cantonese, porridge is called ‘chuk’ and people eat fish porridge on this day with the hope that they will be prosperous and do well throughout the year.

“‘Fong yi zuk sek’ means having ample food and clothing.

“Fish represent the Cantonese blessing, ‘nin nin yao yu’, which means having plenty to spare year after year.

“We also eat noodles which carry the meaning of longevity.

“The chef usually does not cut the noodle and cook them as they are,” he said, adding that Yan Yat is a family-oriented celebration.

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