AS the nation—and the rest of the world—celebrated the Chinese New Year last Monday (February 8, 2016), a lot of families shared a festive and auspicious lunch or dinner together. A number of them took advantage of the Chinese New Year lauriat feasts offered by hotels and restaurants.
Over at Marco Polo Hotel Ortigas, Lung Hin Chinese Restaurant was full to capacity, particularly for lunch, with diners coming in to enjoy its Chinese New Year lauriat menu. Small groups of diners occupied the corner tables (all of which were private nooks) and the private function rooms, whose glass windows opened up to a breathtaking view of the Metro Manila cityscape and the mountains beyond.
Occupying the main dining hall were lauriat tables filled with merry-makers, led by Marco Polo Hotel Ortigas’ general manager Franck Reichenbach and director of communications Judith Los Baños, with feng shui expert Marites Allen as special guest. The three of them also led the tossing of the Yu Sheng Salad, which is the Chinese’s auspicious way of beginning a Chinese New Year meal. But not before the even more auspicious Dragon and Lion Dance went around the hotel, including Lung Hin, to spread good luck and prosperity.
Then came the Yu Sheng Salad tossing. The Yu Sheng Salad is actually composed of various ingredients that symbolize good wishes for the Chinese New Year. These ingredients are either arranged in mounds in a platter or in small plates positioned around a big bowl. At an auspicious time, the ingredients are combined, and the tossing of the salad is done with giant chopsticks. The higher the toss, the more good luck is expected to come, so it’s one time when it’s alright to make a mess.
Leading the toss and explaining the meaning of each ingredient were Marites Allen and Marco Polo Ortigas’ assistant food and beverage director Janice Chua.
• Fish—signifies abundance throughout the year
• Pomelo or Lime—represents good luck and a smooth sailing year
• Pepper—attracts wealth and treasures
• Oil—poured over in a circling motion to ensure the smooth flow of money in all directions
• Carrots—mean good luck is approaching
• Peanut Crumbs—symbolizes a household full of gold and silver
• Taro Crisps—represent prosperity in business
• Sesame Seeds—also mean prosperity in business throughout the year
• Plum Sauce—is a wish for a life that is always sweet 18
• Radish—represents lots of gold and fortune
• Cucumber—also for good luck
• Ginger—signifies abundance
After the prosperity salad tossing, diners took small portions of the salad to represent oneness in wishing for a good year ahead. Then the Chinese New Year lunch began with a lovely lineup of dishes: Steamed Dried Scallops, Sea Moss and Winter melon in Oyster Sauce, plated beautifully, with the dried scallops and sea moss in winter melon cups arranged in a circle around steamed broccoli; Seafood and Vegetable Soup, a flavorful clear soup that has been plated in Western style; Special Baked Lapu-Lapu with Ginger and Onion, served in the casserole where it was cooked and, although a bit bony and a little more effort is required, is so delicious that the effort is worth it; Deep-fried Pork Spareribs with Sweet and Hot Sauce, tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, bathed in the quintessential sweet and sour sauce with just the right spicy kick; and Premium Braised Rice Vermicelli with Prawns, a noodle dish with prawns and quail eggs that represent good health and long life.
For dessert, there were three—a must-try Avocado Cream served with sago in a dessert bowl; Deep-fried Lotus Buns, a gourmet variation of buchi interestingly shaped like cuddly porcupines; and Crystal Custard Dumplings, a light steamed dumpling with a light custard filling.
While the Chinese New Year lauriat dishes were being served, feng shui expert Marites Allen went around the restaurant and talked to diners about their fortune in the Year of the Fire Monkey. Here’s the essence of her predictions:
• For persons born under the Year of the Rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 200—Wealth and career luck continue to shine and build up to 2018, but they should be wary over the big possibility that something important to them can be taken away from them.
• Ox (1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)—The Rat and the Ox are secret friends, so the Ox will manage to go through the year peacefully and will be able to bounce back from the not-so-favorable Year of the Sheep (an enemy of the Ox) in 2015.
• Tiger (1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)—The Tiger is known to be clever but is the enemy of the Monkey, so Tiger people should take it easy, do a lot of charity and engage in noble activities this year.
• Rabbit (1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)—The Rabbit has the prosperity star for the year.
• Dragon (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)—The Dragon has the victory star for 2016, so sky’s the limit in terms of luck.
• Snake (1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)—The Snake is the secret friend of The Monkey, so it shall be a good year. Snake people can find love in the most unexpected places and should enjoy the year along with their allies, the Rooster and the Dragon.
• Horse (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)—will have windfall luck this year and just might win windfall prizes, such as raffles and lotto.
• Sheep (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)—So many forms of opportunities will come the way of the Sheep this year, especially in the areas of career and romance.
• Monkey (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004)—It’s the Monkey’s year, and the victory star shines the brightest for this sign.
• Rooster (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005)—will experience a good year.
• Dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006)—Career and romance will be very good for the Dog, although in the area of health, it will not be so good, so Dog people have to take extra care of their health and spend more time with family and friends.
• Pig (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007)—has the water element, so Pig people will have very good luck in the Year of the Monkey.
(Lung Hin can be found on the 44th Floor of Marco Polo Ortigas, located along Meralco Ave., Pasig City.)