THE tradition of saying specific prosperous wishes out loud as each ingredient is added to the yee sang is something diners look forward to during the lunar new year.
The St Regis Kuala Lumpur observes this ritual each time a yee sang platter is brought out.
“Nian nian you yu,” said our waitress as she added the fish to the plate; the third of nine Mandarin sayings that were uttered during the preparation of the yee sang.
Roughly translated, this saying wishes abundance upon all who were present.
The St Regis Kuala Lumpur general manager Samuel Wong said the observance of this highly structured preparation for yee sang was an instruction that came straight from Puan Sri Sharon Chua herself, who lent her own family recipe to the hotel’s Chinese New Year set menu.
She is the wife of Tan Sri Chua Ma Yu, chairman of CMY Capital Sdn Bhd, which is the developer of the hotel.
Many of the dishes on the Chinese New Year set menus come from personal recipes belonging to the hotel’s owners and management, including Wong, who has a penchant for Hong Kong cuisine.
Our eight-course set began with the tossing of the Abalone and Crispy Soft Shell Crab Yee Sang, which features the use of vegetables such as capsicum instead of coloured dried vermicelli.
The addition of raisins and candied orange peel, as well as a sweet and sour sauce, made using Sharon’s secret recipe, adds a fruity tinge to the overall dish.
One of the dishes that stood out was the Braised Bird’s Nest Soup with Crab Meat and Bamboo Pith.
Most soups in local Chinese set menus tend to be either very starchy or much closer to a clear broth, but this soup strikes a good balance with just the right consistency.
While bird’s nest is typically featured in desserts, the use of it here in a warm and savoury soup certainly plays a big part in whetting one’s appetite.
After the soup, came the Stir-fried Prawn With Pan-Seared Dried Shrimp Radish Cake (lo bak go).
The prawn is breaded and stir-fried, giving it a pleasantly crisp outer coating.
Instead of regular chilli sauce, the radish cake is accompanied by the moderately spicy dried chilli found in Cantonese chilli oil that is commonly sold in Hong Kong.
While the average Chinese set meal has a rice dish as the second-to-last item on the menu, the Rice With Supreme Fish Stock, Fresh Diced Scallops and Vegetables (pak choi) came as a surprise to us.
Many diners expected rice that was flavoured with fish stock, but what was served was rice submerged in a soup made from fish stock.
The idea for the dish came from Wong, who said that the chefs had warned him that such a dish was uncommon in Malaysia in this day and age, but the move seemed to have paid off.
The savoury and wholesome rice soup may bring back memories for some of the older diners and it is a great way to end the meal.
The Chinese New Year set menus are available to diners only via reservation of the hotel’s private function rooms, from now until March 16.
Diners can pick from three choices of yee sang to go with their set menu: Abalone and Crispy Soft Shell Crab Yee Sang (set price RM398++ per person), Salmon and Jellyfish Yee Sang (set price RM328++ per person), and Vegetarian Yee Sang (set price RM298++ per person).
The vegetarian set replaces all savoury dishes with vegetarian options.
The hotel also offers an exclusive set menu for the seventh day of Chinese New Year on Feb 22, which features a completely different set of dishes including Braised Prosperity Seven Treasures Seafood Soup, Steamed Spicy Golden Garlic Lobster With Crispy Pumpkin Chips and Classic Oyster Fried Rice With Cured Chicken And Mushrooms.
The same three options of yee sang is featured for this seventh-day set at the same price per person.
Those who wish to take the dining experience back to their homes can choose to order their yee sang of choice à la carte for takeaway. It is available in two sizes that serve groups of six and 10 diners.
Adding on to the lively Chinese New Year celebrations, members of the public are welcome to attend and witness the hotel’s Lion Dance event on Feb 16, as well as its fireworks display on Feb 26.
THE ST REGIS KUALA LUMPUR, No 6, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2727 6696/www.stregiskualalumpur.com)
This is the writers’ personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.