When it comes to creating dishes that usher in good luck and abundance, the Chinese people have it mastered.
Salmon (a fish which in Chinese sounds like “surplus”) signifies abundance and excess throughout the year, colorful and sweet fruits like mango and cantaloupe bring good luck, radish wishes eternal youth, cashew nuts symbolize a household filled with gold and silver, carrots for good luck, pomelo (sounds like “to have” in Chinese) brings continuous prosperity.
Bring these food items together, add a generous drizzle of plum sauce for a sweet life and loving relationships, and you’ve got a colorful raw fish salad called Yu Sheng.
Eating this dish traditionally served during Chinese New Year has its ritual, too: everyone stands at the table and toss the salad seven times (a lucky number, as well) as high as possible, while shouting “lohei” and their new year’s wishes.
People at the table must push the ingredients toward the center, which according to Bonny Tan, et. al., “is an encouragement to push on the good luck of all at the table.”
It’s a messy practice for sure, but it’s all in the name of good fortune. And perhaps a bit of novelty for some.
Over at Cantonese restaurant Jasmine in New World Makati Hotel, diners are assured they can practice the traditional way of eating Yu Sheng as tables will be covered with plastic and cleaned up right after, officials said.
In addition to this auspicious salad, Chef Wong Kam On, a Hong Kong native living in the Philippines for over two decades, has prepared two special set menus in celebration of Chinese New Year.
Jasmine’s Lunar New Year dishes highlight auspicious ingredients such as fish; scallops or abalone, resembling gold coins for wealth; glutinous rice, whose stickiness pertains to togetherness or unity; and sweet desserts for healthy relationships. Both begin with Salmon Fish Yu Sheng.
The first set consists of braised shredded chicken with fish maw and dried scallop, the tasty and juicy stir-fried scallop with shrimp in XO sauce, steamed live garoupa in soy sauce, braised pork knuckle with black mushroom and sea moss, deep-fried spare ribs with salt and pepper and crispy milk, deep-fried crispy chicken with minced garlic, fried glutinous rice with Chinese marinated pork (a meal in itself), chilled red bean cream sweet dumpling, and an assortment of sweet NianGao desserts
This menu is priced at P12,880++ for six guests.
The second set menu is composed of roasted suckling pig salad, dried scallop with shredded chicken, bamboo pith and crab meat soup, stir-fried scallop with celery, slice preserved duck leg meat, steamed live garoupa in soy sauce, braised baby abalone with black mushroom and sea moss, deep-fried minced shrimp ball and crispy milk, and fried glutinous rice with assorted Chinese marinated meat.
Finish off the meal with a chilled red bean cream and sweet dumpling, and a variety of Nian Gao delights. Six diners can partake of this menu offered at P14,980++.
Guests who prefer to dine a la carte may opt for the Chef’s Recommendation menu that includes Yu Sheng salad, poon choi “big bowl feast,” braised pork knuckle with lettuce, steamed black mushroom stuffed with minced shrimp, and minced fish and sea moss.
Also comprising the a la carte choices are deep-fried minced shrimp balls and crispy milk, deep-fried crispy chicken with minced garlic, braised baby abalone with duck feet, fried glutinous rice with Chinese marinated meat, and stir-fried scallop with celery and sliced and preserved duck leg meat. Prices start at P888 per dish.
The Chinese New Year set and a la carte menus are available from Jan. 24 to Jan. 26.
After the lunch or dinner, guests can check if their luck has increased by spinning New World Makati’s Wheel of Fortune.
Guests are granted one spin for a minimum spend of P10,000 for dinner on Jan. 24 and lunch or dinner on Jan. 25 at Jasmine. When they land on the rat icon, as it is the Year of the Rat, they win an overnight stay. Other prices include dining treats and premium gift items.
Those availing the Chinese New Year room package starting at P6,888 on Jan. 24-25 also get a chance to spin the wheel.
Call (02) 8811-6888 ext. 3679 or go to www.manila.newworldhotels.com.
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