Stay in but eat out this Chinese New Year
Items on Crystal Dragon’s Happiness Menu
By Sol Vanzi
Families with plans of celebrating the Chinese New Year weekend out of the country or simply out of town might have to look for other options due to natural and man-made occurrences.
Hong Kong’s civil unrest situation remains volatile, communicable illnesses have been detected in several Asian cities, Tagaytay and Batangas getaways and weekend retreats are now covered in ash, Baguio is too crowded, and airports remain on ashfall watch.
Gloria, an artist friend of mine, found a solution that promises adventure, good food, excellent recreation for children and adults, shopping, as well as prize-winning meals to welcome the Year of the Metal Rat. After days of phone calls and Internet surfing, she decided to stay in the city by booking her brood at City of Dreams Manila.
Her children are excited to experience the Chinese New Year-themed activities at DreamPlay, the world’s first DreamWorks-inspired interactive play space. They look forward to a mesmerizing lights and sound show at the Nobu Hotel garden, which involves hundreds of multi-colored tulip bulbs dancing to Asian music.
City of Dreams is ringing in the Year of the Metal Rat with feasts of Chinese New Year specialties at award-winning signature restaurants Crystal Dragon and Nobu Manila.
For their special celebration, Gloria naturally chose Cantonese cuisine with symbolisms of harmony, good luck, and abundance highlighted at Crystal Dragon. She and her family will toss to a prosperous Lunar New Year with a bountiful serving of Prosperity Abalone Yu Sheng, which is a lavish salad of abalone, chopped peanuts, deep-fried crisps, shredded radish and ginger, and pomelo. This is finished with oil and plum sauce.
Prosperity Abalone Yu Sheng
Yu sheng is a Cantonese phrase that means “tossing up good fortune,” while lo hei is a traditional Chinese New Year ceremony from Singapore, Malaysia, and China. Raw fish is customarily used in the salad to symbolize prosperity, wealth, happiness, and long life. For the main meal, there is a choice between two menus.
One is the Happiness Menu, which consists of Braised Sea Treasure Broth with Fish Maw, Deep-fried Crab Claws and Minced Shrimp Kataifi, Steamed Dried Oyster Stuffed in Bean Curd Skin with Sea Cucumber and Black Moss, Wok-Fried Nian Gao and Minced Pork with XO Sauce, Chilled Peach Jelly, Bird Nest, and Shredded Coconut, as well as Sautéed Celery, Lotus Roots, Lily Bulbs, and Macadamia Nuts.
Magnificent Menu, on the other hand, offers Double-Boiled Black Chicken Soup with Chinese Ham, Conpoy, Maca, and Fish Maw, the Steamed Cod Fish Fillet with Black Truffle Sauce, the Wok-Fried Tiger Prawn with Creamy Butter Lemon Sauce, the Braised Sea Cucumber, Flower Mushroom, Abalone, and Broccoli, the Sautéed Celery, Lotus Root, Scallops, and Lily Bulbs, as well as the Wok-Fried Fragrant Rice with Dried Scallops and Sea Urchin Sauce. This ends with a serving of Trio Layer of Tikoy with Osmanthus Sauce.
Celebratory dishes iconic to the restaurant of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa make Nobu Manila a fitting venue to toast the Lunar New Year. Among these are the lapu lapu served “new style” in black bean sauce, the Sushi and Sashimi Platter (Composed of fresh salmon, tuna, white fish, ebi, toro, wagyu, ikura, uni, and oyster), and the Kobe Platter, which is a medley of gyoza, tacos, sliders, and croquettes.
At DreamPlay, families can avail of the Chinese New Year VIP Package (₱1, 499) from Jan. 24 to Feb. 2. This is inclusive of an all-day pass to DreamPlay’s attractions with express check-in and priority access, exclusive pass to the screening of the Secrets of the Scroll at the Dream Theater, an exclusive photo opportunity with Kung Fu Panda’s Po and Mei Mei, and other exciting treats like an ice cream treat at Chez Gingy and a figurine of Toothless.
On Chinese New Year’s Day, Jan. 25, the God of Fortune mascot will make appearances at the main gaming area on the ground floor, the upper ground level, and The Shops at the Boulevard area to give out fortune tokens.
Rat-themed centerpiece at the resort’s main entrance
For souvenir photos, Gloria’s family plans to gather at the integrated resort’s main entrance for Instagram-worthy selfies beside a Year of the Rat-themed pagoda adorned with gold coins and ingots that signify wealth and prosperity.
On Jan. 25 and 26, the hotel will also bring in musical entertainment at the neighboring Ayala Malls Manila Bay, headed by OPM artists Nyoy Volante and Jinky Vidal. DreamPlay characters Po and Mei Mei from Kung Fu Panda and City of Dreams’ top in-house CenterPlay bands complete the lineup.
For shoppers and hotel guests, Meralco’s electric vehicle subsidiary eSakay will provide complimentary e-shuttle services between City of Dreams Manila and Ayala Malls Manila Bay, complementing the hotel’s thrust for eco-efficient operations.