Gong Xi Fa Cai!! That's Happy New Year to You in Chinese.
If you literally translate "Gong Xi Fa Cai", it would mean "wishing you enlarge your wealth." Gong Xi means blessing, Fa means enlarge and Chai means wealth. So the literal translation would be to wish someone good wishes for abundant wealth and prosperity. This phrase is also used generally all around to wish Happy New Year.
Chinese new Year (sometimes called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) is the most important event on the Chinese calendar. The Principal day is the first day of the Chinese Calendar, which is the first day of the New Year containing a new moon, which can fall anywhere between 21 January to 20 February.
This year, Chinese New Year's day is January 31st, which marks the start of the year of the Horse. Residents of Asian countries like China, Korea and Vietnam will enjoy a public holidays up to seven days. Many towns and cities commemorate the occasion by lighting lanterns, parades and holding a dragon dance which is said to bring good luck to the community.
To welcome the year of the Wooden Horse, The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi is celebrating the Chinese New Year at EEST, its authentic Asian Restaurant, with a week long festival which is on till January 31st.
Invited to be a part of the festivities, I was totally swept away with the array of tantalizing Chinese delicacies prepared by Chef Di Cuisine, Sam Wong. It was amazing how each dish had a distinct flavor. The ingredients used were very fresh and vegetables just lightly cooked, which I feel can totally enhance or mar the taste in Chinese Cuisine.
As we entered EEST, which is located on the first floor, I was taken in by the breathtakingly beautiful view of the fountain and the pool from the huge glass window, which looked spectacular at night transporting you to another world.The interiors were stylish and kept simple without going overboard with the Asian theme. I also noticed that some of the tables were partitioned with glass walls offering you complete feel of privacy for a cozy, intimate dinner. Huge floor to ceiling wall displays with jars and bottles filled with spices and the cutest little teapots in all shapes and sizes added beauty to the place.
We started with a cocktail which was made with beer and fermented grapes. The taste reminded me of Chaang, a similar fermented drink which we used to get in Sikkim, made with barley, rice and millet grains.
We were also served Jasmine Tea from this cute little pot. The tea cup was topped up the moment it got empty, making me a very happy soul, the ardent tea lover that I am.
Along with the drinks we were served some fried noodles and stir fried sweet and sour beans and carrots to nibble on, accompanied with three sauces - chilli paste, chilli soy and sweet chilli.
Ning meng hai xian tang - Mix Seafood & fish maw double boiled soup was served next. Seafood soup being my all-time favorite, here too I was not disappointed. Delicately seasoned with a generous amount of seafood and crunchy vegetables, the soup was quite filling.
Hong sao pai gu - Braised Chinese pork ribs were cooked to perfection with the tender meat falling off the bone. It had a wonderful crispy skin and coated in a sweet soy sauce were delicious and the best I have tasted till date.
Jian xia rong bing - Pan fried prawn cakes were a treat for a sea food lover like me.
Chun dan shao mai - chicken shao mai had a steamed quail egg as a surprise inside. Though a big fan of dumplings, I found these to be passable.The quail egg inside the dumpling was quite big, leaving you mostly with the taste of egg yolk in your mouth, which I did not find very pleasant.
Bai jiao doufu - Crispy tofu dumpling to my surprise were quite tasty. Usually one to stay away from Tofu because I have always found the taste to be quite overpowering, I quite liked it here. The taste was hardly discernible.
Hui guo doufu - Stir fried tofu, chilli black bean was once again a Tofu dish which was excellently executed. Silken, melt-in-the-mouth, crispy fried pieces of Tofu tossed in a chiili black bean sauce tasted great, making me almost want to change my mind about my earlier notions about this dish.
Xian niurou he - Fresh homemade noodles with beef. We were told that these were made fresh by the chef every morning. Along with the lightly tossed vegetables the dish was a riot of colors which tasted as good as it looked.
Gong bao pian yu - Stir fried sole fillet with dry chilli, cashew nut in gong bao sauce was a glorious medley of Sole fish, golden cashews and bright red chillies.
Chao ya si- Stir fried shredded duck, perfectly cooked with bean sprouts adding a nice texture to the dish.
Su chai- Braised assorted vegetables in nonya style. By the time this dish was brought to the table, I was in serious food coma and could only manage a small bite to taste it. I love the combination of the crunchy vegetables in the beautifully seasoned coconut milk sauce. Really wished that someone would have gifted me another stomach right now.
La Chao niu rou - Stir fried tenderloin with dry chilli spring onion. Tender meat cooked to perfection, this is another dish certainly not be missed on your next visit to the restaurant.
Guang shi zheng xia - Steamed prawns in garlic soya sauce. Plump, juicy prawns, sweet and sour with a slight trace of pepper will make your lips tingle pleasantly.
After an amazing culinary extravaganza, it was time to end on a sweet note with Hong zao huafu bing pei xiang cao bing qi ling - Date and Fig pancakes with Vanilla Ice cream. Layers of pancake oozing with a delicious date and fig sauce and combined with an extremely fresh tasting vanilla icecream was the perfect end to our gastronomical journey.
Thanks Westin, Gurgaon and Chef Sang Won for hosting us. Chef, we really appreciate the time and effort spent in presenting us with this marvelous culinary treat.
If you too, like me are a big enthusiast of Chinese food, head straight to EEST, Westin Gurgaon to give your taste buds a scintillating ride with these mouth-watering Chinese delicacies. The Chinese New Year Festival is on till 31st of January.