Chinese Lunar New Year falls on a Sunday, Feb. 10. It is a good time for families—Chinese and Filipinos alike—to gather around for a good meal to celebrate the coming of the Year of the Water Snake.
At that time, family members are meant to share food believed to bring luck, such as abalone, chicken, fish and the popular tikoy, a sticky dessert of glutinous rice that symbolizes togetherness.
Tin Hau, Mandarin Oriental, Manila’s Chinese restaurant has been offering “prosperity dishes” for the past 17 years. This year, executive chef Hann Furn Chen created a menu which includes dishes representing “luck and harmony.” These items will be available in a set and can also be had à la carte from Feb. 9-17.
We recently sampled Tin Hau’s Chinese New Year menu—a lovely eight-course set fit for Chinese-food lovers, be it New Year or any day.
It started with the Five Happiness Combination Platter, with the “happiness” being perfectly cooked pieces of barbecued suckling pig, Peking duck rolls, crab-meat spring rolls, Fu Jian-Style Ngo Hiang Rolls and jellyfish. According to the menu description, the items and how they were arranged means “bountiful harvest and unity.”
Next was the Braised Assorted Seafood with Crab Roe and Tofu Soup, a thick, rich and filling soup. It was followed by the Wok-Fried Prawns with XO Sauce—shelled meaty prawns with tail on, glazed in sweet-spicy sauce. The bright color of the prawns symbolizes “abundance and wealth.”
According to feng shui expert Joseph Chau (who gave a forecast over lunch), seafood, especially fish, promotes luck. He said the word “fish” rhymes with the Chinese word for “profit,” so having a fish dish on the table is common Lunar New Year practice.
For this purpose, we were served Steamed Live Garoupa in light soy sauce. It tasted fresh and clean, and went well with the Stewed Abalone with sea cucumber, mushrooms and vegetables.
Chicken, meanwhile, represents “prosperity and completeness.” Our lucky chicken dish was Poached Chicken with Spring Onion and Ginger Sauce, which is white chicken cooked in ginger. Eat this with a cup of specialty rice, Fragrant Rice with Dried Seafood Treasure in Lotus Leaf, and one is sure to feel lucky—and very full.
A trio of desserts was served to complete the menu. Pause for a while and chit-chat with your family before having the Warm Sweetened Creamed Pumpkin. The sweetness is just fine, but it may be too heavy after a savory meal.
But make sure to leave room for the Glutinous Rice Dumpling, soft mochi-like balls filled with smooth sesame paste. And of course, cap your family meal with the house specialty: pan-fried Tin Hau tikoy served soft, sweet and gooey.
New Year countdown
Mandarin will also be hosting on Feb. 9 a Chinese New Year’s Eve party highlighted by rituals and ceremonies designed to attract good chi or energy. There will be an outdoor program, dragon and lion dance, auspicious Paai-Shan ceremony to be conducted by Chau, New Year countdown and fireworks display.
Tickets, priced at P2,988 net for adults and P1,588 net for children, are available at the Chinese New Year booth in the hotel lounge. It is inclusive of a midnight Lauriat dinner featuring some of the prosperity dishes, a copy of Chau’s “2013 Year of the Water Snake Forecast” book, and a raffle entry to win a trip to Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou, in China.
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