10 Secrets to Happiness: Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila Celebrates The Lunar New Year
On January 20, 2016 was the official launch of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s month-long festivities which includes the Korean Food Festival, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day. To which I had the privilege to attend the press conference/launch earlier today at Spiral - La Veranda Restaurant; attended by people from the South Korean Embassy, Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, Sofitel's management, businessmen, media, press, bloggers et al. Everyone was treated with a lunch filled with cultural performances, exhibition of food that will be offered on the said events, a cooking demonstration and of course a sumptuous lunch courtesy of Manila's finest buffet restaurant; Spiral.
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila ushers in the Year of the Fire Monkey with a bountiful feast of sumptuous culinary offerings. Featuring Spiral’s Chinese Culinary Artisan, Chef Michael Tai, Sofitel brings the 10 secrets to happiness in a culinary interpretation of prosperity, longevity, friends, faith and fortune. The Lunar New Year culinary offer is available from February 1 – 10, 2016 and features a grandiose runway collection by renowned fashion designer, Albert Andrada on the 3rd of February 2016. Showcasing a jewel-toned collection weaving through the multi-awarded Spiral restaurant, the evening is a celebration of inspired runway pieces and culinary treasures in a haven of luxury and taste.
Chef Michael Tai
10 Secrets to Happiness by Chef Michael Tai of Spiral
Slow-Cooked Abalone served with Money Bag and Supreme Sauce
Abalone or ‘bao yu’ is a popular dish served during Chinese New Year. It is a dish that depicts luxury on a Chinese banquet. ‘Bao’ and ‘yu’ translates to assurance and surplus respectively. It signifies the well wishes for abundance in wealth.
Stuffed Sea Cucumber with Minced Pork “Szechuan Style”
Sea cucumbers or ‘haishen’ with ‘shen’ similar to ‘sheng’ meaning to give birth are among the most difficult and time-consuming ingredients to prepare in a feast for the Lunar New Year. It represents the gift of life.
Poached Dried Scallop Coated with Winter Melon in Dried Scallop Sauce
Scallops symbolize the opening of new horizons and opportunities and are among the signature dishes served in gourmet or luxurious Lunar New Year feasts.
Baked Lobster with Butter and Fried Garlic Hong Kong Style
Regarded as the ‘Dragon of the Sea’, the lobster represents energy and spirit. Among the key ingredients that embody a lavish celebration, lobster is also a popular dish for weddings together with chicken as they represent the dragon and the phoenix which nurtures a good marriage.
Deep Fried Crab Claw “Pi Pa” Style
A favorite in bountiful feasts, the crab symbolizes key benefits, prosperity and prestige and business and social standing. It also represents resoluteness similar to the hard-shelled crustacean.
Wok Fried King Prawn with Golden Pumpkin Egg Yolk Paste
The prawn is among the auspicious dishes served during festive occasions. It symbolizes liveliness and joy. Locally known as ‘har’, its Chinese pronunciation sounds like ‘ha’ referring to the sound of laughter.
Steamed Whole Fish with Red Date Cantonese Style
Fish plays a large role in Chinese festive celebrations. Its Chinese translation is pronounced similarly as the Chinese word for surplus or abundance thus symbolizing prosperity. It is important to cook and eat fish as a whole to signify a good ending and promising new beginnings to the New Year.
Braised Fish Maw and Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
Fish maw is considered one of the most valued Chinese ingredients given its nutritional value. The Chinese believe that drinking fish maw soup and eating it will improve their skin.
Stir Fried Japanese Scallop with Sweet Walnut in XO Chili Sauce
Symbolizing the opening of new horizons, scallops are shaped similarly to that of a coin which signifies wealth and prosperity.
Dried Oyster with Black Moss
Dried oyster represents good business as its Cantonese translation, ‘ho si’ is pronounced similarly to the Cantonese term for good business. It embodies receptivity to good fortune, much like Black Moss or ‘fat choi’ in Cantonese which means ‘strike rich.’
Traditional Offerings at Spiral
Yusheng (Raw Fish Salad)
In Cantonese, ‘Yusheng’ or ‘yoo sang’ symbolizes abundance. This dish is usually served on ‘ren ri’ or the seventh day of the new year. The combination of condiments such as plum sauce and sesame oil with shredded fresh vegetables and raw strips of fish or seafood has become popular that it has become among the signature dishes served during festive celebrations.
Nian Gao (Year Cake)
Mandarin for ‘year cake’, Nian gao is a glutinous, rice-based cake that is available year-round but is traditionally served during Chinese New Year for good luck. Nian gao sounds similar to the Mandarin translation to ‘higher year’ thus signifying one’s status in the coming year. It is also a popular gift during New Year typically presented in the shape of a pair of carps representing surplus or ingots to represent wealth.
Chang Shou Mian (Longevity Noodles)
Chang shou mian also known as longevity noodles are available year-round however brings symbolic relevance when served during birthdays and the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Tradition notes that the longer the noodle, the longer the wish for a long and healthy life.
Jiao Zi (Dumplings)
Dumplings traditionally resemble ingots or money. Eating dumplings is believed to usher in wealth. Sometimes a gold coin may be hidden in one of the dumplings to bring extra luck to the one fortunate enough to eat the said dumpling.
Chûnjuăn / chwnn – jwen (Spring Rolls)
Spring rolls are called as such because they are traditionally served during the Spring Festival. Filled with vegetables, meat or a sweet ingredient, this Cantonese dim sum is wrapped in thin dough wrappers and then fried. Spring rolls signify prosperity as they are akin to gold bars.
Braised Pork Knuckles
The Chinese translation for knuckles has a similar pronunciation to the term for convenient, handy or easily obtainable. In Chinese culture, it symbolizes good gambling fortune after a feast of knuckles during the Lunar New Year.
La Prospérité Chinoise by Albert Andrada
Witness glamour and inspired creations come to life as multi-awarded fashion designer, Albert Andrada showcases an enchanting collection of haute couture gowns of luxury on the 3rd of February 2016 at Spiral.
For his third sartorial presentation at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Albert Andrada highlights jewel-toned pieces inspired by his colorful travels around the globe. The runway collection features a magnifique interpretation of design and innovation with Albert Andrada’s dazzling masterpieces embodying elegance, stunning detail and unrivaled craftsmanship.
Albert Andrada is a Fashion Design graduate of Slims Fashion School. He grew up in different cities around the world including Karachi, Beirut, Kabul, Bangkok and the US territory of Guam enabling him to develop various diverse and globally-inspired collections. An established brand for bridal and evening gowns and corporate uniforms for multinational companies, Albert was among the Issetan Board of Fashion Designers and is a member of the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines. In 1987, he served as the Chief Creative Director in one of the most prestigious fashion houses in the Middle East. He then moved on to open his very own fashion house in Dubai in 1997 and in 2002, participated in the prestigious Swarvoski’s Bridal Designers’ Competition Awards (Professional Category). His entry entitled the Chinese Empress Bride bested 20 entries by designers from different participating countries. He also secured the highly coveted Designer of the Year Award for the said competition. Albert worked as the Royal Designer for the ruling family of Fujeirah, a kingdom of the United Arab Emirates. In 2012, Albert re-established his roots in the Philippines with the opening of his fashion atelier in Manila and participation in the Philippine Fashion Week in 2013. His designs made pageant headlines recently with his inspired interpretation of the Philippine national costume and evening gown as worn by Miss Universe 2015, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
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