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How to celebrate the Chinese New Year in the pandemic age

/ 04:20 AM February 07, 2021

Various restaurants around the metro are offering Chinese New Year fare to bring normalcy and perhaps a bit of luck in these gloomy times. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Can you believe it’s the Chinese New Year again?

It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Chinese New Year with the Kengfus (our golden friends) complete with buffet, music and a countdown to midnight. In the years before that, we would usually have a ceremony led by feng shui master Joseph Chau, complete with dragon dance, at the Mandarin Oriental or Manila Hotel. Missing those days dearly.

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This year, we are forced to celebrate without the usual festivities. Thankfully, festive food will continue to be served. Here are some restaurants and/or food outlets that can help you celebrate Chinese New Year:

China Blue by Jereme Leung at Conrad

China Blue comes alive this Chinese New Year with dishes curated by executive Chinese chef Eng Yew Khor.

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You come to the restaurant, with the usual social distancing guidelines, and enjoy a sit down dinner of golden roast US duck; braised abalone, sea cucumber and dried oyster in a superior shredded mushroom and dried scallop sauce; and of course the quintessential Chinese New Year money bag. You can make a reservation for 10 pax.

For takeaway, nian gao (tikoy) will be available until Feb. 13. They have the following flavors: traditional brown sugar, coconut, orange and red date with ginger.

The tikoy comes in the shape of a koi fish or a gold bar to represent good fortune and success. You can also up your tikoy game by purchasing the one in the Christy Ng designer bag.

By reservation 8833-9999 or email [email protected]

Spectrum at Raffles

Spectrum has a Chinese New Year-themed buffet a la minute (prepared as you order) of Szechuan chicken, steamed fish with a light soy broth, beef with broccoli and peppers, chow mien noodles with bokchoy, and among other Chinese delicacies. And if you need to eat something round, end the meal with mango sago and buchi. This is priced at P1,990 net on Mondays and Tuesdays and P2,300 net per person on Wednesdays to Fridays.

Email [email protected] or [email protected]

Crystal Dragon at City of Dreams

For those who love Cantonese food, head over to Crystal Dragon. Their special Chinese New Year menu will be available until Feb. 26.

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They will have a traditional yu sheng but you can also up your game with abalone yu sheng. Abalone, after all, aside from or precisely because it is expensive, signifies abundance.

Crystal Dragon will also have an ala carte menu that will have double boiled black chicken soup with Chinese ham, conpoy (dried scallops), maca (Peruvian ginseng) and fish maw; steamed prosperity chicken with assorted Chinese herbs; wok-fried mud crab in spicy chili bean sauce; braised Chilean abalone with pork knuckle, dried oyster, sea cucumber and black moss; and steamed taro rice with lap cheong (Chinese liver sausage), mushrooms and diced chicken.

Crystal Jade is open daily from 12:00 noon to 11 p.m.

The Peninsula Manila

The Peninsula Manila, meanwhile, wants its guests to take home money trees. They have a mandarin orange tree and a golden fortune money tree (available at The Peninsula Boutique for P3,888).

But before you think these are actual trees, they are actually more delicious: they are made using Auro chocolate. Even better, the mango orange fruits are filled with an intense Mandarin orange-flavored ganache while the gold coins are made with dark chocolate.

Call 8887-2888 (trunk line) or 8887- 5747

Kamuning Bakery

The 86-year-old bakery now owned by journalist Wilson Lee Flores offers three flavors of Tikoy plus other much loved Chinese delicacies like machang, cha misua and various kinds of pancit. Flores also points out that since it is the Year of the Ox, they are highlighting their products using carabao milk: kesong puti, yogurt, bottled carabao milk and pastillas de leche.

Call 83717058 or 79199105; Viber/text 0950-6963173 or 0923-4479291

James and Daughters

James and Daughters of chef Jonas Ng will have a special Chinese New Year’s Menu. This guy is excellent when it comes to heirloom Chinese cooking.

His 10-course menu begins with mapo tofu and includes crispy smoked duck leg with ginger scallion noodles; braised beef oxtail and ox tripe with sate sauce; crispy barramundi fillet; “Go Khong” Mom’s Five Treasure Soup; crispy noodles with vegetables; Hakka stir fried snow peas with salted pork; and steamed kailan with oyster sauce.

Message 0917-134 6625

Dear Cafe

The best way to celebrate this year now that we are all just home, is to do the YuSheng Prosperity Toss. You can order this from Dear Cafe, owned by Vit Marcelo.

The YuSheng Prosperity Toss is a Chinese New Year tradition practiced especially in Malaysia and Singapore where you toss the ingredients of the Yu Sheng salad as high as you can: the higher the toss, the greater the fortune that will come. So the messier, the better.

The ingredients used by Dear Cafe also carry deeply symbolic meanings based on popular Chinese sayings: lime for luck, peanut crumbs to symbolize gold and silver, green radishes for eternal youth, and shredded white radish for prosperity in the workforce, among a multitude of other ingredients. You can get YuSheng Prosperity Toss noodles from Dear Cafe at just P1279.

For orders, contact 0917-3015396 or message Instagram @DearCafeDC

Master Joseph Chau

So we will be home this year but it does not mean that we cannot celebrate. Feng shui master Joseph Chau gives the following tips:

Before Feb. 12, if possible, families should have a reunion dinner, even just at home. Set up your dining table with fresh flowers, preferably the daffodil; tikoy; different kinds of candy in a rotating tray; and five kinds of fruit. Also, put two pieces of angpao on the tray and make sure it has money inside.

May you all have a Prosperous Lunar New Year! Here’s to health and happiness! And prayers for peace and an end to the pandemic!

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