Chinese New Year is probably one of the number of Chinese festivities where cooking traditional Chinese food is important. And so, shopping for traditional Chinese cooking ingredients is one of the main activities in the weeks before Chinese New Year. For this year, Chinese New Year falls on the 29th January, 2006.
Many shops in Chinatown are already stocking all the goodies, from ingredients for food dishes to desserts to tidbits (traditional Chinese sweets and bites like melon seeds and ground nuts) to the all important fruit, the Mandarin Orange.
At Upper Cross St, there is this shop, Ming Tai [Ming Da] that sells all kinds of traditional Chinese cooking ingredients, from various grades of dried scallops to wax duck and sausages. It also dispenses Chinese herbs - for medicine as well as for tonic soups. And for those who wants to prepare special dishes like "Buddha Jumps Over the Wall", you can also find most of the ingredients here.
The shopowners speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and probably more languages and dialects.
[Note: Disclaimer, I have no commercial interests in this shop (^^)]