We celebrated the coming of 2014 last January, but the Chinese New Year seals the deal. The coming of the Year of the Wooden Horse puts a period on 2013, or at least, for me. And of course, as a country with a big Chinese-Filipino community, it's just but normal to celebrate this big occasion with a Chinese feast. Tikoy, noodles, fruits... These are the usual suspects on our Chinese New Year table.
This year, however, I experienced something very new. The Prosperity Toss.
Before the month of January came to an end, I had the opportunity to go back to the Chinese restaurant at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Xin Tian Di. It's been 2 years since the last time I was here. And while it's been a while, I can still vividly remember the same sophisticated yet tasteful interiors of this black, cream and red-donned space.
Unlike the last time though, I wasn't here for another dimsum-all-you-can session. I was with the beau and my blogger friends to get a taste of the Chinese New Year celebration at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. And while waiting to officially begin the meal...
We had a wood ear mushroom salad -- crunchy tenga ng daga mushrooms tossed in a sweet, spicy and tangy vinaigrette dressing. I may have failed to take note (or ask) for this dish's official name, but I'll surely order this when we return to Xin Tian Di.
I can say the same with this deep-fried salmon skin dish which goes perfectly with the previous item. Every bite off this plate gives a very enjoyable crunch that also comes with a slight kick. Like what Richie said, this is a less fattening version of our chicharon.
The Yu Sheng Prosperity Toss
After a few more bites off the 2 meal starters, we officially started the Prosperity Toss.
Okay, so you might be wondering... What is this Prosperity Toss all about anyway?
|✓ Yu Sheng Salad|
Yu Sheng is a popular Chinese New Year delicacy which literally translates to "raw fish". However, the word "yu" or "fish" is commonly conflated with its homophone "abundance", while "sheng" which means "raw" can also be enunciated to mean "life". Thus, the tossing of the Yu Sheng Salad is a symbol of abundance, wealth and long life.
Significance of Auspicious Ingredients:
Raw fish - Abundance
Carrots - Good luck
Green radish - Eternal youth
White radish - Prosperity in work and business
Peanut crust - Longevity
Guide to Yu Sheng Salad Toss
Step 1: Greet everyone in the table "Gong Xi Fa Cai" or "Wan Shi Ru Yi".
(Congratulations for wealth or may all your wishes be fulfilled.)
Step 2: Squeeze the lime on to the fish and add the fish to the salad, while saying "Nian Nian You Yu" and "You Yu You Sheng".
(Lime symbolizes good luck, while the fish is for abundance throughout the year.)
Step 3: Tear open the green and red packets which contain the pepper and the cinnamon, while saying "Zhao Cai Jin Bao".
(Signifies hope for attracting more money and valuables.)
Step 4: Add the condiments, sesame seeds and deep-fried flour crisps, while saying "Jin Yin Man Wu" and "Pian Di Huang Jin".
(Signifies success in business and a household filled with gold and silver.)
Step 5: Pour the plum sauce and oil in a circular motions, while saying "Yi Ben Wan Li" and "Cai Yuan Guang Jin".
(Signifies increase of all profits 10,000 times and to encourage money to flow in all directions.)
Step 6: Chant "Lo Hei" while tossing the salad seven times and as high as you can.
(In Cantonese, "Lo Hei" means "tossing luck".)
I think we Lo Hei'd more than seven times and tossed the salad almost up into the ceiling lamp! Haha! (Di naman obvious na hayok na hayok kami sa prosperity for 2014?)
|"Lo Hei! Lo Hei! Lo Hei! Lo Hei! Lo Hei! Lo Hei! Lo Hei!"|
Our lovely host for the evening, Ms. Aimee of Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, admitted that this is without a doubt the messiest Prosperity Toss she's ever seen! Woot!!!
And since we didn't want to waste food, we ate the salad afterwards. Just the ones left on the plate though... And boy was it delicious! The salmon and tuna slices were super fresh, the veggies with the peanut crust and flour crisps made for a fun salad texture, and the dressing and condiments sure gave the whole salad the slightly sweet and tangy flavor that made it extremely addicting! I would've eaten even those outside the plate if the staff didn't clean up sooner! (Resisting those yummy slices of salmon is super hard!)
Our trip to Xin Tian Di gave me a lot of firsts. Apart from experiencing the Prosperity Toss for the first time, it was also my first to see not just plates, but even our whole lazy susan changed! I know... We're such avid salad tossers that we made a really big mess!
We were then treated to a trio of dimsum said to bring different kinds of luck. We had a Siomai with Baby Abalone and a Fried Po Pya which both stand for good fortune, as well as a piece of Mixed Meat and Seafood Dumpling for strength. And yup, I did feel lucky after getting a taste of them. They were all so tasty! If only I could have 3 of each...
|✓ Siomai with Baby Abalone|
Juicy and meaty siomai with delicate abalone... Yum!
|✓ Fried Po Pya|
Seafood and taosi encased in crisp-fried popiah skin... My favorite!
|✓ Mixed Meat and Seafood Dumpling|
The name says it all. Oh, and it's garnished with caviar!
Next, we had this simple yet flavorful bowl of clear soup of double-boiled chicken and black mushrooms, which symbolizes good marriage and the coming together of families. How could it not? A sip of this soulful dish will definitely make you want to feel cozy and cuddle up with your significant other. It's a perfectly delicate yet not boring kind of soup.
|✓ Double Boiled Chicken with Black Mushroom|
While we were enjoying the first 2 dishes on the set, Ms. Janice was already prepping and carving the Peking Duck on the table side. This dish, by the way, symbolizes happiness as it is red in color. (How could I not be happy? This is Peking Duck!)
First way was the Peking Duck Pancakes -- glistening strips of duck skin with some duck meat wrapped in flour tortillas with shreds of spring onions, cucumber slices, and hoisin sauce. Although I can't eat duck skin on its own, I've always been fond of Peking Duck served this way. I just love how I get to enjoy the fatty duck without being too overbearing for the palate, thanks to the sweet and savory hoisin sauce, the freshness from the veggies, and the starch from the thin, chewy flour tortilla wrap. Yummy!
|✓ 1st Way: Peking Duck Pancakes|
The second way was Minced Peking Duck with Lettuce Cups. As much as I love the duck rolled in wraps, this is by far my most favorite way of eating Peking Duck. I know, purists might think I'm crazy, but I just love how savory and unfatty this dish tastes. Just put some of the duck mixture in the lettuce leaf, fold or roll, and eat away!
|✓ 2nd Way: Minced Peking Duck with Lettuce Cups|
Next, we had this braised dish coupled with sea moss which symbolizes unity in family. This auspicious pork leg item might not be the best looking on the table, but it sure tasted great! Soft, succulent, fork tender, and coated in a savory yet well-balanced sticky sauce.
|Braised Pork Leg with Sea Moss and Lettuce|
We then had this steamed cod topped with taoso or crunch soybean. Call me a granny, but I love my steamed fish! The cod fillets bathing in a lightly sweet, savory and salty sauce were silky soft and very delicate on the palate. No fishy taste here too since it's fresh. It's said that eating fish will help one's wishes come true. And I believe, I just had mine happen. I was seriously craving for steamed fish the whole week, then... BAM!
|✓ Steamed Cod Fish with Taoso|
No Chinese celebration is complete without abalone which shape resembles that of Chinese gold ingots, and promises wealth and good fortune. And while abalone does have a distinct taste being a mollusc, I've always loved it even as a kid. It has a firm and chewy texture that I find addicting. And don't get me started on that light savory sauce!
|✓ Braised African Abalone with Broccoli in Oyster Sauce|
|Seafood E-fu Noodles|
For something sweet, we had wrapped tikoy fried to a delicate crisp, and coated with a sweet sauce. Truth be told, I'm not too fond of eating tikoy since we usually have it for a whole month or more after the Chinese New Year. However, this rendition got me gorging down piece after piece. Good, since tikoy represents a promise of a better year.
For the final sweet ending, we had pieces of dark chocolate-filled buchi which doesn't only taste good, but also symbolizes gold coins for wealth and good fortune. I didn't even know what it stands for earlier, but glad I ate a lot of it! Haha!
The set we got to sample that night was good for 10 people. However, with every dish's portion size, it might even feed 12 up to 14 people. There are also other set menus available at Xin Tian Di which starts at P4,800++. And if you also want to experience the Yu Sheng Prosperity Toss, it's available not just for dine-in, but also for take out at P988++ (good for 4 to 6) and at P1,888++ (good for 10 to 12) until February 13.
Thank you Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria for letting me experience my first ever Prosperity Toss! And again, Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Cheers for good health and more wealth! *wink*
Xin Tian Di Chinese Restaurant
4/F Crown Plaza Galleria Manila, Ortigas Ave.,
Cor. Asian Development Bank, Mandaluyong City,
Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 633-7222 loc. 7240
Crowne Plaza Manila Facebook Page
Xin Tian Di Facebook Page
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