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Food full of meaning

By Donna Mah | China Daily | Updated: 2011-01-31 09:01

Food full of meaning

Hong Kong

Food full of meaning

In Hong Kong, most companies have a traditional Spring dinner for their employees, and end the work day early on Lunar New Year's Eve so everyone can go home for the reunion dinner. For the next 14 days, there will be plenty of enthusiastic wishes for continued good health, happiness, and prosperity. To ensure the continuation of good luck and prosperity, the dishes served during the celebrations will be appropriately auspicious.

Many Lunar New Year dishes are served whole - whole chicken, whole roast suckling pig, whole fish and whole duck - because of the negative connotations associated with cutting and slicing, likened to severing family ties. Fish is a very important dish as it symbolizes prosperity. There is a saying in Chinese - nian nian you yu - that translates to "Abundance year after year." The word for "fish" in Chinese is similar to the word for "abundance."

Dishes that bring wealth to the table will have ingredients such as dried oysters, bamboo shoots and black moss. Long life is signified with long noodles. Seeds represent having many children.

Traditionally, Chinese New Year is also a time for making radish cake (luobo gao) and the sweet and chewy New Year cake (nian gao) to give to friends and relatives. Nowadays however, many restaurants, hotels, and shops make and sell these labor-intensive items and they come in all shapes and sizes, and all flavors.

Reunions during the Lunar New Year's season are loud and boisterous, involving lots of food, lots of red packets (filled with lucky money), and auspicious well wishes - for good health, for your heart's desires, for good grades, for prosperity and wealth.

For a reunion with great food and atmosphere, the T'ang Court at the Langham Hotel is offering a range of menus by their two-Michelin-starred chef Siu Hin-chi.

Dishes such as scrambled egg white with crabmeat, bird's nest topped with olive kernels, braised shark's fin with crabmeat and crab roe, are on the menu and promise to be cooked to perfection. The meal costs from HK$7,888 ($1,013) for a table of 12. They also have radish cake, taro cake, and New Year cake at HK$138 each, handmade with the finest ingredients and beautifully packaged for gift giving.

For dinner with a view of the New Year's fireworks, One Harbour Road at the Grand Hyatt is the place to be. They are offering an eight-course set dinner menu for a very auspicious HK$888 per person.

The ever-popular Maxim's group of restaurants including Jade Garden, Maxim's Palace and Serenade offer set menus for a table of 12 from HK$3,288.

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