With the New Year just around the corner, the catering industry in Shanghai is celebrating with new dishes and witnessing a booming number of reservations.

The time-honored Xing Hua Lou restaurant in Huangpu District, the oldest Cantonese-style eatery in the city, has all its private dining rooms and tables fully reserved for New Year’s Eve and the first two days of the three-day New Year holiday.

The restaurant has recently undergone a renovation, and its old menu has been overhauled after nearly six months’ development by chefs.

The new dishes embody an innovative approach.

The stewed chicken is stuffed with seafood such as abalone, fish maw and sea cucumber, and the chicken bone is removed in advance and stewed in abalone sauce for more than an hour.

Changfen (rice rolls), a Cantonese-style classic snack, is mixed with beetroot, spinach and pumpkin juices while barbecued pork is sprinkled with rose wine.

“We have adjusted the distance between chairs and removed some tables to prevent gathering amid COVID-19 prevention requirements,” said Zhi Jing, deputy general manager of Xing Hua Lou.

The 95-year-old Sunya Cantonese Restaurant on the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall said there is no vacancy in its private dining rooms and tables between New Year’s Eve and the holiday.

The New Year holiday is traditionally one of the most booming times of the year for restaurants in the city with gatherings of families and friends driving the rush, said executive chef Huang Renkang.

Hotpot restaurant chain Haidilao has launched seven new dishes, including mutton, peas, fried cream sticks and a new hotpot soup, before the holiday to tempt diners.

The enriched menu provides diners with winter nourishment with diverse flavors like mutton and brings popular food and snacks from places like Sichuan and Guangdong provinces to dining tables in Shanghai.

One of the new mutton dishes utilizes a type of scallion widely used as an ingredient in Inner Mongolia in mutton to balance the flavor.

The new hotpot soup, with a mixture of beef tallow and boiled oil and a unique proportion of three peppers, enables diners to adjust the soup to their own tastes, choosing the degree of spiciness and saltiness and the proportion of oil and water.

There has been a significant increase in diners since winter began, coupled with the holiday effect, as Haidilao locations in Shanghai and Beijing each welcomed about 250,000 diners between December 24 and 26, the hotpot chain revealed.

The restaurant requires all diners to have their temperatures checked and travel history code shown before entry as measures to curb COVID-19.

The Pudong Shangri-La hotel said that about 70 percent of seats at its restaurants serving Chinese-style meals, buffet and Japanese-style meals have been reserved for New Year’s Eve.

An increasing number of diners are spending more on expensive set meals and focusing on healthy cuisine, said Gao Xiaosheng, Chinese executive chef of Gui Hua Lou restaurant at the hotel.

All diners need to have their temperatures and health QR codes checked.

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