Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lai Wah Heen: Celebrating Chinese New Year

An ancient festival with thousands of years of history, Chinese New Year is celebrated by countless cultures around the world, with each year characterized by one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac — 2018 being 'Year of the Dog', which brings luck and abundance to those born under this sign. Certain dishes are served during the Lunar New Year for their symbolic meaning, such as dumplings, spring rolls, seafood and noodles, which symbolize happiness and longevity. Lai Wah Heen, which stands for "luxurious meeting place," specializes in high-end Chinese cuisine, which is where we decided to celebrate Chinese New Year with my brother and sister-in-law. We launched the festivities with chef Sam Tse's trio of Dim Sum appetizers and a whole Peking Duck, which was served in two courses. The whole duckling is fried until it's glistening, crisp and golden brown then carved and served with finely shredded scallion and cucumber on steamed rice crepes with sweet hoisin sauce. The second course was Chopped Rainbow in Crystal Fold, which is the wok-fried minced duckling meat served with assorted vegetables, fried noodles and wrapped in crispy fresh lettuce leaves. We followed with classic Braised E-Fu Noodles with crabmeat, Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms with honey sauce glaze, Jumbo Prawns, Scallops and Oysters in spicy wine sauce, Gai Lan Chinese Broccoli, and Stir-Fried Sliced Beef flavoured with aged mandarin peel. Kung hei fat choy!

Entrance to Lai Wah Heen with small waterfall

Linen tablesetting with chopsticks and spoon on dragon cutlery stand

Lai Wah Heen menu of Szechuan, Hunan and Cantonese dishes

Original collection of Chinese calligraphy by renowned Southeast Asian artist Cheung Ming

Beige and black dining room with 12 foot ceilings divided into two levels by wide black granite steps and a solarium-style glass wall

Sing Tao beer

Homemade Spicy Hot sauce

Lai Wah Heen premium Dim Sum platter trio with Har Gow shrimp dumpling and 
Siu Mai beef and pork dumpling

Deep-fried spring roll filled with mixed vegetable and mushroom

Crispy shrimp roll served with a sweet hawthorn sauce

Our second course, Peking Duck carved table side 

Sliced Peking Duck served with finely shredded scallion and cucumber on steamed rice crepes 
with sweet hoisin sauce

The second Peking Duck course: Chopped Rainbow in Crystal Fold of wok-fried minced duckling, assorted vegetables and fried noodles wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves

Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms with honey sauce glaze

Classic braised e-fu noodles with crabmeat

Wok-baked jumbo prawns, scallops and oysters in spicy wine sauce

Gai Lan Chinese broccoli 

Stir-fried sliced beef flavored with aged mandarin peel

Deep-fried sesame ball stuffed with pickled ginger and lotus seed paste

Chinese New Year E-Fu Noodles
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of chef Ronny Lam, Lai Wah Heen

7 oz package e-fu noodles (fried and dried egg noodles)
3 Chinese black shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps very thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut in matchsticks
10 snow peas, trimmed, cut in matchsticks
3 tbsp canola oil
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tsp oyster sauce 
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp mushroom-flavoured dark soy sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar

In large wok or saucepan half-filled with boiling water on high heat, cook noodles, stirring and pushing under water, until they soften and thicken slightly about 60 to 90 seconds. Drain in colander. Let stand to dry well. Add several cups water to wok or saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat then add the mushrooms, carrots and snow peas. Cook for 1 minute and drain.

Add oil to a wok or large non-stick skillet and heat over high. Add the noodles in one clump. Cook, undisturbed 1 minute to brown bottom. Using a spatula, carefully flip and cook another minute, then transfer to a plate. Add the mushroom mixture to the wok or skillet and cook 30 seconds. Add the stock, oyster sauce, soy sauce, mushroom soy sauce and sugar. It will quickly come to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring and tossing with tongs or chopsticks, until the noodles absorb most of the sauce, about 3 minutes. Transfer the noodle mixture to platter with tongs and serve drizzled with any remaining sauce.

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