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There are a lot of symbolic dishes which are eaten to mark the Chinese New Year. From long noodles that represent longevity, dumplings that are looked at as a sign of prosperity to yuanxiao or sweet rice balls whose round shape signifies a complete circle of harmony and unity within the family — there’s a story to what’s on your plate. We got chefs from across the city to pick dishes from their Chinese New Year menu, sharing the significance on this special occasion.

Wok tossed Eggplant Baby corn and Green Bean in Hot Bean Sauce 

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IT’S USP IS Chef Cheang Chee leong, at JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu, says, “The eggplant plays an important role during Chinese New Year, as the vegetable resembles a man wearing a hat, which as per ancient Chinese customs is worn only by the top officials. Hence, giving or receiving an eggplant or a dish made with it means you wish for the other person to prosper in their work-life and be promoted to a higher designation.”AT Dashanzi, JW Marriott Mumbai JuhuCOST FOR A MEAL FOR TWO Rs 5,000 approximately

Longevity Noodles at Joss

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IT’S USP IS Chef Farrokh Khambata, says, “The longevity noodles are long, egg noodles made from wheat flour that are eaten during Chinese New Year and birthday celebrations. The noodles became a food metaphor mainly because of its length. They represent a long life according to Chinese traditions. They are not subject to a particular preparation, and are mainly used in simple and healthy ways such as in broths or stir-fried with vegetables and meat. The use of the whole grain wheat makes longevity noodles healthier than instant noodles.”AT Joss, SantacruzCOST FOR A MEAL FOR TWO Rs 2,500 approximately

Yuanxio (steamed Gluten-free rice based dessert stuffed with red bean paste)

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IT’S USP IS Chef Xillin, Chef de Cuisine The St Regis Mumbai, says, “Originally known as Yuan Xiao named after a palace mistress who made very good sticky rice ball snacks during the Han Dynasty.” The roundness of the rice balls is said to signify a complete circle of harmony and unity within the family.AT Mekong, The St Regis, Lower ParelCOST FOR A MEAL FOR TWO Rs 4,000 approximately

Baked Chilean Sea Bass with kumquat dressing

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IT’S USP IS Chef Raymond Wong, head chef at Hakkasan, Mumbai, says, “Family is the basis of the Chinese society, which is seen through the significance placed on Chinese New Year. The feast during this time is extremely important to the Chinese and all family members must come back home. If they can’t, the rest of the family will leave their spot empty and place a spare set of utensils for them. Food is one of the things that the Chinese take the most pride in. And of course, a lot of care and thought is put into the menu for the most important holiday of the year. Fish is an indispensable dish on the reunion dinner, because Chinese people give it many kinds of meanings.

The word for fish, ‘yu’ sounds like the words both for wish and abundance. As a result, on New Year’s Eve, it is customary to serve a fish at the end of the evening meal which symbolises a wish for abundance in the coming year. This is served with a kumquat dressing. The gold-coloured skins of this citrusy tangerine fruit symbolise prosperity and good luck. In fact, the Chinese words for tangerine and gold sound virtually the same.AT Hakkasan, Bandra (W)COST FOR A MEAL FOR TWO Rs 3,400 approximately

Steamed fish, soy sauce and cilantro

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IT’S USP IS Chef Gopi Nandakumar, executive chef at Hyatt Regency Mumbai, says, “As a tradition for Chinese New Year, the entire family gets together and the whole fish is placed at the centre of the table and the family enjoys this steamed fish together, amidst prayers and wishes for an abundant and prosperous New Year.”AT Hyatt Regency, Andheri (E)COST FOR A MEAL FOR TWO Rs 3,780 approximately

Ho Fun Noodles

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IT’S USP IS Chef Subhash, head chef at House Of Mandarin says, “Noodles are considered a sign of happiness and longevity and this preparation is especially made for Chinese New Year. The dish comprises flat soft noodles tossed with fresh diced stir fried vegetables and whole, fresh black mushrooms served in a traditional black bean sauce.”AT House of Mandarin, Bandra (W)COST FOR A MEAL FOR TWO Rs 2,100 approximately

The Haoyun Lantern

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IT’S USP IS Jairam Pariyar, head chef at Yauatcha, Mumbai, says, “During Chinese New, specific dishes and food items are consumed to usher prosperity in the coming year. Keeping true to this philosophy, the Chinese New Year menu this year includes dishes featuring ingredients, which are traditionally believed to bring good fortune. Our Haoyun dessert is red in colour, this is because in China, red is synonymous with the New Year, symbolic of good luck, prosperity and joy. The colour corresponds with fire, an element considered to provide warmth, enthusiasm and creativity. Since presentation is also very important, this dessert resembles the iconic traditional Chinese lantern. The inside of this dessert is made of soy (a very native Southeast Asian ingredient) and mandarin — traditionally eating citrus is believed to bring luck, abundance and happiness.  Also what is interesting is that ‘haoyun’ literally translates to ‘lucky’. We’ve collaborated with celebrity fashion designer Nachiket Barve to reinvent the traditional Chinese lantern with his signature cut-out designs. These lanterns have been installed across all three Yauatchas – Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata adding to the festivities.”AT Yauatcha, BKCCOST FOR A MEAL FOR TWO Rs 2,800 approximately

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