Four generations rekindle bonds

Treasured memories: Lee (left), Tan (third from right) and other family members preparing dishes for the reunion dinner at their house in Tanjung Bungah, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: On the eve of Chinese New Year, families gathered for the highly anticipated reunion dinner, and among them was 102-year-old Lee Ah Kheng’s family members.

Four generations came together to usher in another promising Lunar New Year.

Reflecting on the family tradition, her grandson Warren Tan, 36, shared that their family never opted for dining out but always preferred the warmth of home for their reunion dinner.

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“We have a rich culinary heritage, as my late grandfather was a Hainanese chef at the renowned Loke Thye Kee Restaurant, said to be Penang’s oldest restaurant.

“Our tradition involves cooking up a feast of delectable dishes, a legacy passed down through generations.

“Even though grandma no longer cooks due to her age, we meticulously recreate the dishes with the same flair and style my grandpa was known for,” Tan said during the dinner at a condominium in Tanjung Bungah yesterday.

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Highlighting the significance of the occasion, Tan revealed that relatives from overseas often make the journey back to join the family.

The family’s reunion dinner, a grand affair around a big table, is a testament to the enduring bonds that span generations.

This year, a total of 12 members, including the youngest, just 10 months, gathered at the unit to welcome the Year of the Dragon.

Tan, who operates a chicken rice business, said his brother and parents also run their respective food businesses.

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“Preparations for the feast featuring a menu rich in tradition began a day before; some were cooked from different locations.

“Together, we prepared a sumptuous spread including jiu hu char, Hainanese lor bak, Kapitan curry chicken, chap chai, steamed Swallow Grouper, Hainanese chicken and pork trotters.

“As we sat around the table, we wished Grandma a long and happy life and for all of us to enjoy good health,” the 36-year-old added.

For the Chinese community, Chinese New Year is not only about returning home for the reunion dinner; it is also about meeting their loved ones and catching up.

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