You know Chinese New Year is just around the corner when there’s a sudden proliferation of red ang pao envelopes and boxes of tikoy or nian gao in your workplace. Or newspapers and other media begin running forecasts for Chinese Zodiac signs. That was before the government started declaring it as a special non-working holiday. Now everyone knows.
We’ve never celebrated Chinese New Year before and I wouldn’t call our succumbing to Chinese practices for attracting wealth and luck as celebrating. More like being superstitious. The most we ever do is get some charms, wear red and serve and eat lucky food items.
Mom made hokkien hae mee, stir-fried prawn noodles, and biko, sweetened glutinous rice, for Chinese New Year’s eve. These were followed in the succeeding days by more dishes which she considers lucky, like fried fish and chopsuey, in place of five-vegetable stir-fry.
So of course the family decided to eat at Chowking, a local quick-service restaurant offering Chinese/Oriental fare, during the weekend. The set meal for five includes 5 pieces Chinese Style Fried Chicken (one can also opt for a platter of Orange Chicken or Sweet and Sour Pork), a platter of Pancit Canton, a platter of Chicharap and Dimsum, a platter of steamed rice and 5 glasses of preferred softdrinks.
The Chicharap and Dimsum Platter is both an appetizer and dessert platter. A lot of fried stuff in it. Chowking’s Buchi is a sesame seed engulfed glutinous rice ball with a sweet mung bean paste filling. Chicharap are prawn crackers. The fried wanton balls’ wrapper ain’t tough at all and the taste of lumpiang shanghai has remained the same over the years. Chowking’s shouldn’t have removed fried dumplings from their menu since dumplings are believed to attract wealth as they’re the shape of the yuanbao.
A friend once said that Chowking was going for Sincerity’s infamous fried chicken when they came out with their Chinese Style Fried Chicken. I haven’t tried Sincerity’s so I can’t make any comparisons there. My sister is not a fan of their fried chicken though as she finds them dry. I have to admit that while their meat is flavorful, they’re not as moist or juicy as Jollibee’s Chickenjoy or KFC’s Original Recipe. The chicken skin coated in light batter does retain a bit its crispiness four hours later when I snacked on my sister’s untouched chicken.
Chowking’s Pancit Canton brims of slices of their idea of a Chinese sausage, which I would fight my siblings for, a few small shrimps, slivers of pork, julienned carrots and lots of shredded cabbage. I really like their pancit canton. It’s the sauce and how it made the noodles flavorful. Kudos to whoever made adjustments to their recipe a few years back.
Sweets (buchi) for a sweet life? Check. Dim Sum for good luck? Check. Spring rolls for wealth? Check. Chicken for prosperity? Check. Noodles for long life? Check. Whole chicken, for unity and togetherness, and longer noodles would have been better. I think we’re all set for the year of horse. Well, I could go for some Nai Cha please.
For more on Chowking, visit their facebook page.