The tradition of doing a Prosperity Toss with friends and family is one followed mainly by Chinese communities in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
In the Philippines, some restaurants and hotels have their own versions, with Crystal Dragon at Crown Towers Manila offering what arguably must be one of the most decadent.
In place of fresh fish and vegetables cut into strips, the chef pairs shredded roasted duck with fresh fruit salad. This new creation by the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, Chan Choo Kean, symbolizes fertility, wellness and “many resources.”
This pairing of savory and sweet is also present in the chef’s oven-baked marinated cod served on top of ripe pomelo.
Chan has prepared a Chinese New Year Happiness menu, available until Feb. 11, that includes Braised 8 Sea Treasures and shredded vegetable broth, wok-fried prawns with Supreme soy sauce reduction that symbolize joy and prosperity, and roasted chicken roll with foie gras and wild mushrooms.
In the food-tasting last week, the hands-down favorite was the Slow-Cooked Supreme Sea Cucumber with Abalone and Pork Knuckle. Served in a clay pot and simply garnished with spring onions, it looked plain and uninspired. Only after we had sampled portions of the firm abalone and gelatinous sea cucumber and pork knuckles did we sit up and take notice.
Some asked for steamed rice—the better to soak up all that tasty sauce.
Another favorite was the chef’s Wok-Fried Shanghai Rice Cake with Selected Seafood, as the chewy texture of the rice cake went well with the firm and fresh seafood.
For dessert, Chan served three types of Nian Gao (tikoy): steamed and dusted with shredded coconut, deep-fried and covered with an edible “net”; and flavored with red bean paste, pandan and cashews.
The Chinese New Year Happiness menu is priced at P3,680+ for a minimum of four persons. Crystal Dragon is open daily for lunch from noon to 3 p.m. and for dinner 6-11 p.m.
A three-day festival will run Jan. 27-29 at The Shops at the Boulevard on the upper-ground level, with activities like Chinese calligraphy, fortune-telling and caricature art. Chinese opera singers, cultural dancers and wushu martial artists will perform between 3 and 8 p.m.
Crystal Dragon is at Crown Towers Manila, Asean Ave. corner Roxas Blvd., Entertainment City, Parañaque. Call 8008080 or e-mail email@example.com