31/01/2006 - 21:00

Chinese getting lucky at Yu

31/01/2006 - 21:00


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January 29 marked Chinese New Year as the year 4,704 began on the Chinese calendar and the Year of the Dog was ushered in.

Chinese getting lucky at Yu

January 29 marked Chinese New Year as the year 4,704 began on the Chinese calendar and the Year of the Dog was ushered in.

The New Year is the most important holiday of the year for the Chinese. It is a time of celebration, generosity and happiness. And for centuries, food has played an integral part in the way Chinese people celebrate their New Year.

There is a deep symbolism attached to the food served during the festival, which will last until February 4.

Dried bean curd symbolises happiness, eggs indicate fertility, eating fish is said to encourage prosperity, and oranges symbolise wealth.

“As a tradition during Chinese New Year raw fish is tossed to ensure prosperity, especially business prosperity,” says Pat Cheong, chef de cuisine at Burswood Casino’s Yu Restaurant.

Mr Cheong, a chef with more than 25 years’ experience, is something of an expert in the concept of lucky food.

The eighth of 13 children, a lucky number in itself, Mr Cheong moved to Perth from Hong Kong in 1993 to stamp a lasting reputation with the Genting Palace restaurant.

When the restaurant was re-branded as Yu Restaurant last year, Mr Cheong again took control and has been skilfully cooking some of the most interesting Chinese food in the state.

And to celebrate one of the most important dates for Chinese, Mr Cheong is focusing on the traditional aspects of this ancient art of cuisine.

“Celebrations during Chinese New Year are very important for Chinese people – the time represents the entire year. So what you eat during the 15 days of the celebration is representative of what you will eat for the year,” Mr Cheong told Gusto.

“Cooking food in the traditional manner like this is not the easiest but it is the most important.”

To celebrate Chinese New Year, Yu Restaurant will offer a banquet representative of the ‘good-luck’ foods Chinese use to celebrate this time.

Dishes will include ‘prosperity pish’, which is raw Tasmanian salmon and Chinese pickled salad. This is a particular highlight as guests are encouraged to toss the fish to symbolise prosperity.

“Everyone must help in tossing the fish to ensure that they and their guests share in the good fortune,” says Daniel Man, restaurant manager at Yu.

Less dramatic ‘lucky’ foods also served include ‘golden yearly surplus’ (steamed barramundi), ‘New Year good health and longevity’, which is the highly symbolic lobster served with ginger, and ‘boundless gold and jade fortune’, or crispy duck.

These join traditional other items on Yu’s menu such as sautéed scallops, stuffed chicken wings with king prawns, duck and fish.

Yu Restaurant itself is also experiencing some good fortune. It began life being converted from the Genting Palace, Burswood’s evergreen Asian fine diner, which served Western Australians for almost 20 years until 2005. But since opening in the middle of last year, Yu has blossomed under the steady hand of Mr Cheong in the kitchen, a bolstering of the menu and a very impressive wine list.

Burswood has shown its commitment to the project, promising a complete revamp of Yu to commence shortly after Chinese New Year celebrations have concluded.

But this will be after traditional lion dancers and a fireworks display over the Swan River on February 4 help close the celebration and encourage good fortune and health for the year ahead.


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