More lucky spread for the Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is next week, Feb. 5, so please allow me to indulge in another PSA (public service announcement) article that will hopefully encourage you all to indulge in Chinese food to celebrate the new year.
Here are a few restaurants going all out with their Chinese New Year spreads:
Crystal Dragon at the City of Dreams
Crystal Dragon is the opulent Chinese restaurant of the Nuwa hotel at the City of Dreams complex.
Up to Feb. 19, Crystal Dragon will be offering specialty menus available for both lunch and dinner in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Looking at the names of the menus alone already make me smile: There is a Happiness menu (P3,880++) and a seven-course Magnificent menu (P6,880++). So you choose: this Chinese New Year, would you like to be happy or magnificent? Or maybe you can choose magnificence for yourself and happiness for your children.
Crystal Dragon is also offering a Poon Choi menu with options of Cantonese-style stewed abalone poon phoi or stewed tiger prawn poon choi. “Poon choi” in Cantonese is known as “basin dish” and was historically served to emperors in ancient China. It signifies prosperity and affluence, and is composed of a generous assortment of premium ingredients.
If you prefer an a la carte menu, some suggestions of Charisse Chuidian, communications guru of City of Dreams: the slow-cooked supreme fish maw with abalone and minced pork (P2,800++); the oven-baked marinated cod fish fillet because this is filled with golden garlic that makes the dish very fragrant (P2,280++); or the braised stuffed black mushroom with sea cucumber in supreme oyster sauce for some umami love (P1,680++).
If you are on a budget, go for the wok-fried king prawn with honey and black pepper sauce (P480 per piece); or the wok-fried vermicelli with assorted seafood and Chinese pork sausage (P880).
A pro tip for an extra meaningful celebration, order the traditional “Yu Sheng” salad.
“Yu Sheng” salad or “Lo Hei” is said to have originated from a Cantonese phrase which means “tossing up good fortune.” The raw fish in the salad symbolizes abundance; abalone symbolizes good fortune; and duck signifies fertility. When mixed with brightly colored fruits, you will also have wealth, youth, happiness and long life—lahat na.
To call in good luck, make sure to do a ceremonial prosperity toss: everyone must gather before the table, use your chopsticks to mix the ingredients, and as you toss the salad, say “Lo Hei!” and your well wishes. This is always fun!
For a more casual affair at the City of Dreams, the contemporary Southeast Asian restaurant Red Ginger has options. They are offering a mini yu sheng for only P188++ from Feb. 5 to 7. This will have thin slices of salmon, shredded vegetables, kaffir lime leaves, pomelo, crushed peanuts and calamansi plum sauce—sounds delish! You can also get it at an even bigger bargain, only P128++ if you order another dish from their Festive Lunar Menu, which has items like ginger poached chicken with spring onion oil; braised pork pata with sotanghon and baby bokchoy; tiger prawn with butter pumpkin curry sauce; black pepper flower crab with winter melon; and claypot pla pla fish with chestnut and taro.
For something different, China Blue of renowned Chef Jereme Leung at Conrad Manila is offering interpretations of authentic Chinese claypot dishes to be executed by their Chinese executive chef Eng Yew Khor. These will be available only until Chinese New Year (Feb. 5).
Meanwhile, if you will celebrate at home but want something different, you may order the creative nian gao (tikoy) flavors of China Blue. They are offering almond, passion fruit, yuzu jelly and red bean flavors in the shape of either a koi fish or a mini gold bar. A box of eight pieces is priced at P1,500 net.
The other thing that China Blue can offer is not something you can eat. If you are able to reserve a table near the window, you may watch the moon as you dine. Watching the moon symbolizes harmony and unity. That may be more delicious than anything you can eat (except for pork skin).
Man Ho is the signature Chinese fine dining outlet of Marriott International.
For the Chinese New Year, they also have the yu sheng salad. At Man Ho, they serve the raw fish first, followed by lemon and peppers which represent luck and money. There is also sesame oil circling the dish to symbolize the flow of wealth. Finally, there are also carrot strips to symbolize blessings as well as green and white radish strips to represent youth and good fortune in business.
They also have nian gao (tikoy) enclosed in a red oriental box and sealed with a gold stamp (P1,888 net). Mitch Garcia, the sultry communications head of the Marriott, reminds us of the Chinese tradition of pasting the tikoy to the image of the Kitchen God a week before the Lunar New Year because “smearing tikoy on his mouth will keep his lips sealed so that he will only speak ‘sweet’ words to the Jade Emperor about the family he watches over.”
That is a fine idea. Maybe someone can kindly, gently, affectionately or even tenderly spread some tikoy on our wonderful President’s mouth so he will stop cursing and only speak “sweet words” after the Chinese New Year!
Happy Chinese New Year to you all, especially to our soon-to-be subdued President. Anything is possible in the new year!
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