IPOH: The family home is the best place for kinsfolk near and far to gather with members of the Chinese community looking forward to dinner with their loved ones on Chinese New Year’s eve.
Student Alvin Beh, 24, said even though there have been fewer family members attending his family’s reunion dinners over the past few years, it is always fun meeting relatives.
“When I was a child, our reunion dinners were attended by easily 25 or more family members.
“However, over the years, the numbers have dropped because some of my relatives have moved abroad to Australia, Taiwan and Singapore,” he said.
Beh said his siblings in Singapore may return home for the reunion dinner, while the rest will come back later.
He said his family never dines outside for reunion dinners.
“During peak seasons like Chinese New Year, most of the restaurants will cook their food ahead of time and reheat it once customers arrive. So the taste will be different.
“They would serve them in sets. This method doesn’t suit us since we have family members who have food allergies,” he said.
“The price is also another factor to consider when we eat out for reunion dinners. Depending on which restaurant you choose and what meals you have on the day of the reunion, you will almost certainly spend more than RM500 per table,” he added.
Beh is looking forward to eating fish, prawn and chicken dishes prepared by her mother and aunts.
A manager who only wanted to be known as Jensen said food comes second at reunion dinners.
“While I look forward to eating the roast duck prepared by my grandmother, I can’t wait to meet my brother and his new twin babies.
“This would be my brother’s first visit after the Covid-19 pandemic, as he is staying in Australia,” he said.
“They couldn’t come home earlier because my sister-in-law was pregnant and they wanted to wait a few months after the babies were born before flying home,” he added.
Jensen said that while reunion dinners are known for their wonderful spread of dishes, such events are more about family members catching up with each other.
“While we always communicate with my brother online, meeting him face-to-face is different,” he said.
“We spend more time talking with each other than eating, so it only makes sense to have dinner at home. It is also more comfortable for us,” he added.
Jensen said he and his family may be dining out later after the Chinese New Year celebrations.
“My sister-in-law has never tried local Ipoh food, so I’d like her to try the local coffee, our curry noodles, and nasi ganja. We might also have a family dinner at a hotel,” he said.
For 26-year-old project manager Angie Lee, nothing can beat the dishes cooked by her mother and aunt.
“They are the reason why we only dine at home for reunion dinners. My mum and aunt are good cooks.
“Eating out nowadays during the festive season is usually expensive.
“I’m looking forward to eating a dish we call the ‘poon choi’, a festive meal that is composed of many layers of different ingredients like prawns, chicken and meat,” she said, adding that her reunion dinner will be attended by about 20 family members.