Chinese New Year is a little like Thanksgiving where there’s celebration, massive feasting, visiting relatives and where ornate, wildly colored dragons, kamquat trees, and generally, decorations that are “red” in colour, are used to decorate the place for good luck. Chinese restaurants will inadvertently be serving up dishes with names that mean “good luck” and “fortune”.
Part of the fun and madness of Chinese New Year, is the partaking in Low Sang. And part of the Low Sang/Yee Sang ritual is actually the noise and merry making that involves large chopsticks and people tossing and mixing the ingredients in the large, flat plate till the colors and raw fish are completely and thoroughly mixed. This is the one time, parents will not scold their children for playing with their food. In fact, the more you play with it and toss it, the better. Also, the louder you scream prosperity wishes the better. “Health Come!” “Money Come!” “Love and Good Fortune COME! “
That’s right.. Chinese New Year is incomplete without a Yee Sang toss for good luck, prosperity, longevity, health and wealth. Yee Sang also known as lo hei (in Cantonese) is a Chinese raw fish salad. It usually consists of strips of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients.
Prosperity Yee Sang with fresh scallop, mango and crystal pear
Though Yee Sang means “raw fish”, it can also mean abundance. The word Yee Sang is used to refer to prosperity and all things good, for the Chinese New Year. Partaking in the Yee Sang means, that expected promotion, that new car, or closing that important deal, is just around the corner. To every fine Chinese man and woman, the Yee Sang symbolizes abundance, prosperity and vigor.
Ah.. Chinese New Year.. what do I love most about Chinese New Year..?
The feasting of course. A Chinese proverb states that all creations are reborn on New Year’s day. The Chinese New Year is a celebration of change – out with the old and in with the new.
sweet and sour pork ribs
The Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year because it is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. It usually occurs in January or February. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The New Year’s Eve dinner a.k.a the Reunion Dinner, is the most important where the entire family no matter how geographically scattered, exodus back to their hometown, to gather and eat at the dinner table together.
Normally the wives, daughters and daughter-in-laws (basically all the women in the family) have to toil in the kitchen all day to prepare the sumptuous feast for the entire family. This is also a time for honoring the spirits of the ancestors but our family does not practice this, as we are all third generation Christians.
Braised duck with sea cucumber, mushrooms, snow peas
Anyway, I love Chinese New Year because it is a time for loads of Feasting, Merry Making, Mahjong playing, collecting or giving Angpows and most importantly, I love if for the fact that family unity is at its strongest during this festive season. Oh, and it’s also pretty fun when you get to win money off your elders at the Mahjong table!
Braised Fatt Choy (black moss), Hoe See (dried oyster) with mushroom and bean curd
This year, a great place to Low Sang with your colleagues or loved ones, would be at Lai Ching Yuen, Grand Millennium Hotel. The Yee Sang with a twist is pretty awesome – they use scallops instead of raw fish, and the taste is superb. Also, instead of using super sweet syrup, they opt to use fruits (like strawberry syrup – made from fresh strawberries) instead. Chef Leong Weng Heng creations this year include Yee Sang employing either raw Salmon, Giant Clam, Crispy Cod Skin, Scallop or Abalone, rather than the traditional raw fish. With each passing year, I expect the unexpected and look forward to just what Chefs and restaurants will think of next!
Lap Mei Farn – chinese wax sausages and duck meat in Claypot rice
The other highlights of Lai Ching Yuen Reunion dinner include this terrific Fatt-choy , Hoe-See dish which has been braised till all the flavour and goodness just envelopes the entire plate. Longevity, prosperity and all the good stuff should follow you all year long, after eating this dish;) And for the grand finale, the Lap Mei Farn is a must!
Glutinous rice dumpling with black sesame filling in red bean soup
There’s no better way than to end the meal on a sweet note, with Tong Yuen. Lai Ching Yuen Reunion dinner menu sets start at RM1,280++, RM1,480++, RM1,680++ and RM1,780++per table of 10, depending on how luxurious the spread is. Be sure to call and make reservations before hand.
Add: Lai Ching Yuen, Level 1, Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur open from 12.00 noon to 3.00pm on weekdays and 11..00am to 3.00pm on weekends and public holidays for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner. For reservations, please call +60 3 2117 4180/4181 or email [email protected]