ACCORDING to the lunar calendar, which the Chinese follow, 2014 is the Year of the Horse, and Sofitel Philippine Plaza welcomes the Chinese New Year with a special 18 treasures-themed menu, which diners can enjoy at Spiral starting today (January 20, 2014) until February 2, 2014.
Chinese New Year this year falls on January 31, but the celebration lasts a week to attract fortune and abundance for the Year of the Horse – with a gastronomic celebration featuring auspicious dishes from the different regions of China. This grand celebration includes Cantonese, Szechuan, Shanghainese and Peking-style regional cuisines.
Why an 18 treasures-themed menu for the Chinese New Year? Well, in Chinese numerology and phonetics, the number 18 is associated with prosperity. Thus, Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s kitchen team, led by Executive Chef Eric Costille and Executive Chinese Chef Mok Chee Wah, has come up with 18 types of steamed and fried Hong Kong dim sum items, 18 different main courses, including Mongolian Barbecue with fresh meats and seafood and 18 kinds of sauces, Lobster Laksa with 18 kinds of condiments, the Yee Sang Salad with 18 kinds of condiments, and 18 desserts.
When it comes to dim sums, aside from the all-time favorites Pork Siomai, Hakao (shrimp siomai) and Spinach Dumpling, Spiral also has such gourmet treats as Foie Gras Siomai.
For the main courses, the selections are mostly celebration dishes with lots of seafood, including Spiral Signature Chili Crab, Steamed Snapper Fillet and Homemade Tofu, Steamed King Prawns with Fresh and Fried Garlic, Slow-cooked Baby Abalone in Supreme Oyster Sauce, Steamed Crab Claw and Glass Noodles with Egg White Sauce, Braised Dried Oysters and Sea Moss in Dried Scallop Sauce, and Braised Sea Cucumber with Minced Chicken Szechuan Style. There are also meat choices, such as Braised Pork Knuckle with Iceberg Lettuce in Oyster Sauce, Wok Fried Pork Chop Cantonese Style and Shanghai Style Fried Spicy Chicken.
As for the Yee Sang Salad, it’s like the symbolic dish that’s always served during the Chinese New Year celebration. The lauriat table is set up with a large platter of shredded vegetables, strips of raw fish (usually salmon) and a variety of sauces and condiments arranged side by side on the platter. A Teochew-style raw fish salad that’s also called Yu Sheng Salad, it’s a prosperity salad served at the start of the Chinese New Year lauriat meal. People gather around the table armed with pairs of chopsticks and, at the signal of the host, everyone tosses the ingredients high up in the air while shouting “Lo Hei!” The higher the ingredients get up in the air, the more prosperous the coming year is supposed to become. So, the tossing of the Yee Sang Salad is one rare occasion when it’s alright to make a big mess. Afterwards, everyone shares the salad, and only after everyone gets to eat his portion of the salad are the other lauriat dishes served.
The Yee Sang Salad symbolizes abundance, prosperity and vigor in the coming year. And since the Chinese celebration dishes are made part of the Spiral buffet spread for the Chinese New Year celebration this year, the Yee Sang Salad is also presented in the buffet. The condiments can be found in different bowls in a special corner of the buffet area at the Chinese station, and diners can assemble their own Yee Sang Salad. It’s quite a deviation from the usual plated Yee Sang Salad usually served at the table.
The Chinese New Year celebration at Sofitel also features a Dinner cum Shanghai Nights Collection fashion show showcasing a 15-piece Shanghai-inspired fashion collection by renowned designer Albert Andrada on January 29, 2014, with diners getting a chance to win prizes from Jewelmer and Hiehl’s. Also lined up are a Dragon Dance on January 30 to bring good tidings, as well as live painting sessions of Chinese artist and calligrapher Alexis Ventura on January 29 and 30 and February 2. Special lunches and dinners have been scheduled on January 29 (at Php1,980++ for adults and Php1,100++ for children aged 4 to 11, for lunch; and Php2,750++ for adults and Php1,358++ for children, for dinner) January 30 to February 1 (at Php2,288++ for adults and Php1,308++ for children aged 4 to 11, for lunch; and Php 2,750++ for adults and Php1,358++ for children, for dinner), and Sunday brunch on February 2 (Php3,250++ for adults and Php1,500 for children aged 4 to 11).
Chinese New Year festivities have also been thought up for Sofitel’s Sunset Bar – with a poolside barbecue and Chinese dishes, including hot dim sum and free-flowing beer, soda and iced tea on January 30 and 31, whose highlights include a Dragon and Lion Dance performance at 7:30 p.m. on January 30 and a beautiful fireworks display and Chinese cultural dance at 10:00 p.m. on January 31.
Highlight of the Chinese New Year celebration takes place on January 31, with an eye-dotting ceremony in the hotel lobby starting at 11:00 a.m. and a Dragon and Lion Dance all over the hotel.
It’s going to be one grand celebration at Sofitel Philippine Plaza to welcome the Year of the Horse.
(Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is located at the CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City. For inquiries and reservations, the numbers are 832-6988 and 551-5555.)