Sidedish: Lifting up prosperity

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Friday, February 7, 2014

FIRECRACKERS. Dancing animal replicas. Exotic food. Wishes of good luck.

It was a one-day Chinese festitivty held on Jan. 31 at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, Cebu, to welcome in the Year of Wood Horse. The celebration, which was graced by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, began with the traditional Lion and Dragon Dance Ceremony at the resort obby.

A skinny dude wore a mask in the image of Buddha; a red lion, manipulated by two acrobatic individuals inside, danced around the lobby; and a flowing dragon figure in bright and neon colors complemented the brisk Friday noon event.


Chinese history tells us that the presence of mythical beasts (lions and dragons) in a revelry shoo evil away, lifting up prosperity. Truth or tale, the dance was a medley to behold. Intricate and attractive.

When the revelry ended, a banquet followed at Shangri-La’s Tea of Spring Chinese Restaurant. It opened with the Lo Hei or Yee Sang Tossing Ritual with Tea of Spring Pears Salmon Yee Sang. For a first-timer, it was the most cultural appetizer ever, confusing but interesting. A spoonful of the dish burst into the palate.

Yee Sang is a raw fish salad, with thinly sliced pickled veggies and other minced or fine ingredients mixed together with a special sauce or powder toppings. Partakers are to toss an amount in an excited spirit to attract abundance and happiness. The higher the toss, the more chances of winning (the wish). To love life, yes!

As if the starter wasn’t unique enough, the next servings were unsurprisingly complicated in arrangement yet dainty to the eyes and taste. The introduction to the “real food” included scallop broth with abalone and crab meat. The bowl was emptied in one gulp so that all the soupy goodness missed an Instagram opportunity.

Lunch wasn’t tedious for a non-conformist as it was a festival. Partakers had their fill of the deep-fried coral trout with sweet and sour plum sauce, the crispy duck served with vegetables and cashew nuts (a personal pick), stir-fried prawns Szechuan style, braised pork belly with sea moss sauce and braised bean curd skin stuffed with mixed mushroom and vegetables.

They say rice is the latecomer in a Chinese meal. But a Filipino can’t live by meat alone. Of course, the chef got it. So the Tea of Spring fried rice with XO Sauce was brought in while the main dishes were in transit.

Chilled glutinous rice with creamy mango filling and sweetened Lou Han Guo with coconut strips wrapped up the gastronomic celebration. Kung Hei Fat Choi! “Kung Hei Fat Moi!,” the bloated diner greeted, literally.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2014.


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