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Welcome The Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year is a time for great feasting but did you know that some countries claim sole right to certain festive dishes? Read on to see how food too can become a hotly contested topic! This and other interesting foodie titbits in this issue. 

Words: Wilson Ng

Festive Food

Chinese New Year is celebrated in many countries around Asia and one of the most important rituals of this festival is the reunion dinner. Family members make it a point to return home to be with their parents and partake in a massive feast that often showcases the culinary skills of the matriarch of the family, aided by her daughters and daughters-in-law. The festival continues for 15 days, ending on Yuan Xiao Jie / Chap Goh Meh, also known as Lantern Festival and the Chinese Valentine’s Day in certain parts of Asia.

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In Malaysia, Singapore, and now slowly gaining foothold in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the new year is celebrated with a raw fish salad named yee sang. The salad of shredded vegetables with crunchy flour chips topped with thin slices of raw fish and tossed with lime juice, peanut oil and plum sauce is a compulsory dish at the reunion and dinners throughout the festive period. Celebrants utter loh sang! (Welcome Prosperity!) as they mix and toss the salad. It is said, the higher the toss, the greater the wealth in that year.

     The origin of the dish is a contentious issue between Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore claims it’s theirs based on the fact that it has been served at Lai Wah Restaurant since 1964 while Malaysia dates its findings to 1947 to a restaurant named Loke Ching Kee in Seremban. The jury is still out on this issue.

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Flavour Parade

Italian food is all about texture and flavour. For a pasta dish the whole family will love, try Leggo’s Chunky Pasta Sauces. Made with wholesome ingredients such as red tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs, Leggo’s Traditional Pasta Sauces are an easy way to enjoy a classic pasta meal. Choose your personal favourite from classic Bolognese to creamy Carbonara.

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Malaysian Bagels

Bagels are handmade, doughnut shaped bread that are all the rage in the US and other Western countries. The popular bread has arrived in Malaysia too, courtesy of Gambian bread maker, Sulayman Cham. Located in SS15, Subang Jaya, Cham has established, probably the country’s first bagel shop. The 44-year-old with his vast experience in the US, uses no oil, butter or lard in the bagels, making them a healthy alternative to white breads and buns. Cham Bagel Bakery 41 JLN SS 15/8A, 47500 Selangor, Malaysia. +60178886339

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The Most Expensive Coffee in The World

Fancy tasting the most expensive coffee in the world? This peculiar brew comes from Indonesia and is called Kopi Luwak. Luwak refers to the Asian palm civet in the Indonesian language and the coffee is mainly produced in Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi. Unlike ordinary coffee, luwak coffee is made from coffee berries that have been consumed and digested by the civet cat. Surprisingly, when the cat eats the berries, only the outer husk gets digested while the beans are defecated in their original shape. These beans then, go through cleaning, drying, roasting and grinding to produce a brew that is said to be the most exquisite coffee in the world.

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Halal in Hong Kong

Unlike the usual goulash, the veal goulash served by Islam Food in Kowloon since 1950 looks more like a Chinese dumpling. The texture of these dumplings is similar to the gouza but the skin is thicker. The combination of the crisp skin and the moist veal filling offers an explosion of taste and texture quite unlike any other, making it addictive. The dish has garnered lots of praise from the local media and is endorsed by famous Hong Kong food critics such as Choy Lan and Dou. Islam Food restaurant is located at No 1, Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City. www.islamfood.biz.com.hk

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Tramcar Dining

Why just visit Melbourne when you can take in the sights and sounds of the city while enjoying dinner as well! Hop onboard the 1948 Melbourne Tram Restaurant that’s painted a glossy burgundy and appointed handsomely like luxurious European trains of the past. As guests enjoy the sights of the city, they can choose from a selection of lunch and dinner menus with meals freshly prepared on board the tram. An extensive list of beverages completes the F&B options. The tramcar is air conditioned and heated in winter, and is a wonderful way to get acquainted with the city while enjoying a lovely dinner or lunch. www.tramrestaurant.com.au

CNY with the Starwood Group in Kuala Lumpur

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Enjoy a sumptuous menu at Five Sen5es Restaurant at The Westin Hotel Kuala Lumpur! With prices starting from MYR880++ and MYR1388++ per table of 10, the festive menus reflect good times with family and friends, and can be enjoyed over a 7- or 8-course Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner meal on February 9, 2013. +6 03 27318333 or visit www.thewestinkualalumpur.com.

The winner of the Best Chinese Restaurant at the 2012 TimeOut KL Food Awards, Celestial Court at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur welcomes guests to a royal dining affair with evergreen Cantonese favourites, reinterpreted with a modern twist. From January 7 to February 24, 2013, Chef Ho Boon will dish up traditional Chinese cuisine through various mouth-watering lunar set menus. Ranging from MYR1488++ to MYR1988++ per table of 10, the menus invite you to indulge in signature dishes such as Double Boiled Soup with Baby Abalone, Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin Cubes and other exciting dishes. +60327179900 or visit www.sheraton.com/imperialkualalumpur.

Toss for greater prosperity with options that feature Salmon Yee Sang priced at MYR100++ a platter or Abalone Yee Sang priced at MYR120++ a platter. Alternatively, enjoy a complimentary plate of Salmon Yee Sang for every group of 10 pax dining at Latest Recipe at Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur. +60322637434 or visit www.discoverlemeridien.com.

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