The long Christmas holidays may be over… but that does not mean, there will be no more upcoming holidays soon! In fact in three days, we are going to welcome the Chinese New Year! So where are you guys planning to spend this holiday? If you’re just staying put in the city (like me), then now is the time to eat and celebrate in your favorite Chinese restaurants in the metro! And just like last year (where I brought my family to Crystal Dragon in City of Dreams Manila), this year will not be any different, as we look forward to yet another delicious meal in this favorite Chinese restaurant of ours!
Just yesterday, I already had a taste of what’s in this year’s Chinese New Year’s Menu of Crystal Dragon. I had some of their classics, as well as some new favorites.
I’ve learned that in the Chinese culture, most of the dishes they serve or the food they eat during the New Year have “attached meanings” to it! There must be ingredients thrown in there that should bring you good luck, good health, success and prosperity! And nothing wrong with that because with every new beginnings, come with it our wishes for only the good things!
Take a look at some of the dishes we enjoyed :
Shredded Roast Duck with Fresh Fruit Salad in Dressing
There a number of ingredients in this colorful salad, a dish that symbolizes wellness and celebration. For one, the roasted duck means fertility, the melon fruit is for family and good health, the onion oil is for cleverness and the peanut sauce drizzled all over? That’s for long life and prosperity.
Of course, I cannot forget to mention the jellyfish here which makes the salad more flavorful, plus the strawberries and honeydew which add a tinge of sweetness, and those crunchy, little crackers on top which gives this salad a nice, scrumptious texture!
Double-Boiled Sea Treasure in Cordycep Flower Soup
What’s in this soup? A traditional soup ingredient called fish maw, a type of fish usually eaten for abundance. Then there’s also dried scallops, which they say is “to open new horizons”. Then some crab meat and sea cucumber are also thrown in here to add flavor. And last but not the least, there are slices of cordyceps in this soup, a type of medicinal mushroom used to cure a lot of things!
Slow-cooked Supreme Sea Cucumber with Abalone and Pork Knuckle in a Clay Pot
This is slow cooked pork knuckle, mixed with sea cucumber and abalone. The pork symbolizes income or a wish fulfilled, while abalone means gold, money and wealth!
Oven-baked Marinated Cod Fish with Fragrant Golden Garlic
Instead of the usual lapu lapu, Crystal Dragon uses the richer and tastier cod fish for this kind of dish, since apparently, cod fish symbolizes abundance. The fish is baked with cheese and garlic (which made this dish so tasty), two ingredients that promote eternity and long life.
Wok-fried King Prawns with Supreme Soy Sauce Reduction
Because prawns love to jump when being caught, this dish of wok-fried king prawns symbolizes happiness and liveliness! (No wonder I was so happy as soon as I had my first bite!) This dish was deliciously seasoned with that Supreme Soy Sauce Reduction, making it such a perfect compliment to rice!
Roasted Chicken Roll filled with Foie Gras and Wild Mushrooms
Now if only all roasted chickens can taste this way! Just imagine this in one roll and in one bite : chicken skin that’s fried to a golden crisp with meaty foie gras stuffing inside and wild truffle mushrooms on top!
What does this dish symbolize? Chicken is usually eaten for prosperity, togetherness of the family and joy, while wild truffles are for longevity.
Wok-fried Shanghai Rice Cake Sliced with Selected Seafood
This seafood dish is filled with giant crab claws, fish fillet, and prawns — ingredients when combined are believed to bring abundance. Meanwhile, the rice cakes (those round things underneath all the seafood), are eaten to bring safety and good fortune… and because rice cakes are sweet, they say this is meant to “sweeten” the year ahead!
And right before dessert was served, I took a peek inside the kitchen of Crystal Dragon…
Here I met Chef Bong Jun Choi, a Chinese Malaysian who has been cooking in the restaurant since the day it opened in February 2015. (He also recently won for Crystal Dragon the Philippine Tatler Best Restaurants Award 2017.)
While inside the kitchen, I shot a quick video of Chef Bong making one of our two desserts! (Pardon the noise in the background as this was shot randomly by my iphone).
And then out came our first dessert!
Chilled Mango Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream
This is the classic mango pudding we all know and love. But did you actually know that the mango symbolizes luck and wealth, while the vanilla ice cream means a “sweet welcome”?
Three-flavor Chinese New Year Nian Gao Platter
And then came our second dessert, the one I saw Chef Bong make inside the kitchen. This is a platter of 3 deliciously glutinous and sticky things — rice cakes basically, and which most of us know as “tikoy”.
From left to right : Steamed Dried Shredded Coconut Nian Gao, for togetherness, Deep Fried Rice Net Water Chestnut Cake, for good fortune and Cashew Nuts Broken Red Bean Paste Pandan Roll, for gold and money!
So yes this is one good meal with all the good things I want for myself and for everyone around me for the new year!
Whether or not you believe in all these auspicious meanings given to the food you eat, I still think that the most important thing during the New Year’s celebration is to have an attitude of gratitude; to be thankful for the year that has passed and to be grateful for the year ahead. After all, gratitude will attract good things, it will be the magnet for miracles! So let us welcome the new year, the Year of the Rooster with a happy and grateful heart!
Kung Hei Fat Choi, everyone!!! Good luck, good health and prosperity to us all!
Upper Ground Floor Crown Towers, Tower 1
City of Dreams Manila
Aseana Avenue corner Macapagal Ave., Entertainment City,
Roxas Blvd, Paranaque, Parañaque, 1700 Metro Manila
Tel (02) 800-8080 or (02) 691-7722
To see what I had last Chinese New Year also in Crystal Dragon, click here.