THE CHINESE New Year has become a big celebration here in the Philippines over the years. It’s not surprising since the Chinese have been with us long before Spain colonized our country. In fact, Binondo in Manila is the oldest Chinatown in the world, not to mention its tag as one of the World’s Best Chinatowns.
Besides the colorful and vibrant Dragon and Lion Dance that summons good fortune for the coming Lunar New Year, the celebration is directed on food. The symbolic significance of food is a tradition that is revered by everyone.
The Tea of Spring in Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa welcomed the Year of the Water Snake with the Prosperity Toss or the Yee Sang, the raw fish salad, and an exquisite menu created by Malaysian Chinese Executive Chef Bun Boon Hoe for the lunar celebration. While Yee Sang may have originated in China, the contemporary version was adopted and popularized in Chinese communities in Singapore and Malaysia. I just love this colorful and delicious raw fish salad. It is believed that the higher one tosses the salad, the more prosperous one becomes.
An intimate lunch at Tea of Spring hosted by the Marketing Communications team led by Mildred Amon and Marketing Director Agnes Pacis to savor the auspicious set menu of Chef Bun Boom Hoe turned out to be one of the most fascinating and longest meals we’ve partaken. A “tai-tai” lunch, quipped Jude Bacalso, alluding to the leisurely lunches of Taipan wives. The group just gelled and the conversations were exciting, utterly hilarious and “censored” at times, lasting until 4 p.m. Top executives of the deluxe resort General Manager Juergen Doerr, F & B Director Juergen van Workum and Executive Chef Joris Rycken who welcomed our small group must have been tempted to sit down with us to listen to our lively repartee.
The Pear and Salmon Yee Sang was one of the best we’ve had—raw salmon (for abundance), assorted shredded vegetables like carrots (blessings), pomelo and lime (for wealth) green radish (for eternal youth), white radish (for promotion), pepper (attract money), peanuts (for household filled with gold and silver), sesame seeds (for flourishing business) crackers and plum sauce. With our chopsticks, we tossed the salad with wishful abandon. And when our excitement settled, we sat down to savor a truly exquisite lunch that started with soup–Pumpkin with Mixed Seafood Dumpling. The golden broth was tasty and the delicate dumpling skin was filled with morsels of freshly minced seafood. Braised Dried Oyster and US Scallops, Mussels with Sea Moss was very appetizing. The scallops were huge and the mussels were deliciously plump. Every bite was pleasing to the palate. Steamed Lapu-Lapu with Soya Sauce was skillfully deboned and served by our very efficient food attendant. Crispy Aromatic Duck with Sour Plum Sauce and Sauteed Fresh Prawns with Fried Garlic and Shallots were both deep-fried, quite indulging. I found the Braised Ling Zhi Mushrooms with Broccoli in Oyster Sauce a very healthy dish. The dessert was divine–Homemade Mochi and Chilled Mango Puree with Pomelo and Sago. The Mochi or Japanese glutinous rice ball was delightfully filled with fine cream and morsels of mangoes.