Lifestyle Eat

The Sands Chinese new year culinary explosion

Written by The Dragon

This article first appeared in the Chinese New Year 2010 special issue of World Gaming magazine.

A couple of weeks ago The Dragon and The Panda were strolling around the Sands. As usual The Dragon was looking for a big game of baccarat but he felt a little hungry so he turned to his compatriot and asked if he knew anywhere to go. The Panda grabbed his phone and called his old friend, Executive Chef of the Sands Toni Mak, who invited the pair to the Golden Court to sample a few of the delights his team were preparing to tantalise the taste buds of patrons during Chinese New Year.

We were greeted by Executive Sous Chef Philip Siu and taken to a secret table at the back of the restaurant. Chef Philip has had over 30 years of experience from Hong Kong to Australia before he found himself helping set up the kitchens at the Sands back in 2003.

He asked us to sit back and relax and introduced us to his Golden Court Chef Kan Kai Wing who is the Sands most experienced and highly decorated Cantonese master. Chef Kan, like Chef Philip, has been at the Sands from the very early days and has been one of the driving forces behind building the reputation the Sands restaurants hold. Chef Kan was asked to create a special Chinese New Year menu that would capture the hearts of diners and leave a lasting memory for years to come. We asked Chef Kan what were the inspirations behind his choices.

“I created a festival menu that blended traditional flavours and ingredients but presented them in a contemporary style that would surprise and excite my customers. I have used some traditional methods and ideas but have made them better by using all the new cooking methods that are available in modern kitchens today.”

Chef Kan is famous for his special XO sauce that he makes with dry scallops, Eastern Chinese Prosciutto and chili to name just a few of the key ingredients. There have been so many requests to take his sauce home that the kitchen sells it for MOP$150 per 100 grams. We asked if we could steal the recipe but Sous Chef Phillip chimed in, “we could give you the recipe but it would be a waste of time. You wouldn’t be able to cook it if you wanted to.”

We certainly believed him after sampling it during our epic tasting session.

Chinese New Year Specialty Dishes – 14 to 21 February

There are a few special delights that will be featured on the menu for a whole week of Chinese New Year. Chef Kan has created both a few specials to add to the regular Dim Sum menu and the extensive regular menu.

Dim Sum menu

Chinese New Year ‘lucky’ prawn dumplings

This sounds like regular dim sum fare but this dumpling is no ordinary dumpling. These succulent morsels are all personally hand crafted and aren’t called the ‘lucky dumpling’ for no reason. Once you and your friends try them you will certainly feel that luck is on your side.

Chinese New Year 'lucky' prawn dumplings

Chinese New Year ‘lucky’ prawn dumplings

Pork knuckle

There is nothing more fine than dining on the swine. This wonderfully prepared dish has tasty rich gravy and a flavour that simply can’t be explained. This dish claims that the diner will have ‘hands that will catch the money’. That certainly sounded good to The Dragon and quickly became his favourite dish.

Regular menu

Braised conpoy and airdried oyster with sea moss

This dish will bring you both ‘prosperity and good luck’. What more could you want? Well you get one of the finest dishes you have ever tasted. Semidried oysters and scallops are served on a top of Chinese greens and finished off with sea moss. This dish symbolises gold – the oysters are gold bars and the scallops gold coins. This is an ocean delight that would leave any fisherman hankering for another serving.

Pan-fried Chinese New Year pudding

This is an old favourite and one that you will find at any Chinese New Year celebration anywhere in the world. Every chef has their secrets and Chef Kan is no different. He told us that the main ingredients he used were coconut juice, glutinous rice flour and brown sugar. We felt he might be forced to kill us if he told us any more so we thanked him and ate our wonderful pudding quietly. Some will eat the pudding because it is purported that doing so will guarantee success or promotion in a career. Others will simply eat it because it tastes so good!

Pan-fried Chinese New Year pudding

Pan-fried Chinese New Year pudding

Scrambled egg white with scallops and vegetables

Out of all the dishes we tried this was the one that had us singing the praises of Chef Kan and his exciting creations the most. He combines simple ingredients such as egg white and scallops and serves them on deep fried spring roll pastry. The texture is amazing and the flavour is truly out of this world. Chef Kan said that this was a hard dish to prepare as the egg whites have to be cooked to perfection for the dish to work. The dish brings ‘fortune and will lead to a higher status in society’ but the one thing I can tell you for sure is that it certainly brought us fortune to taste a dish that you would be crazy not to try before this promotion finishes.

Scrambled egg white with scallops and vegetables

Scrambled egg white with scallops and vegetables

Everybody’s birthday – 20 February

Ancient Chinese tradition dictates that on the seventh day of Chinese New Year it is everbody’s birthday. Chief Kan has come up with two special dishes that will celebrate this special day and have everyone singing happy birthday to each other.

Birthday bun

The birthday bun will bring longevity in life and will help you see many more birthdays to come. The bun is a steamed bun that is made in the shape of a peach, filled with salty duck egg custard.

Stir-fried seven kinds of vegetables on potato bird’s nest

Chef Kan decided that after seven days of eating wonderful Chinese New Year fare that you might like something lighter and healthier. This dish symbolises the seventh day of the Chinese New Year and is considered a ‘heavenly’ dish because of the bird’s nest. Seven crunchy perfectly cooked vegetables will have you jumping up and down and feeling like you were ten years younger.

Chinese Valentine’s Day – 28 February

Chinese Valentine’s Day comes at the end of the new year period. It is an important day especially for all the new young lovers that will be celebrating the day by dining out and spending some time together over a perfect meal. Chef Kan decided that the best way to celebrate this special day was to create a sweet delight that would have the ladies wanting the night to go on forever.

Chilled mango pudding and fried honeydew cream ball

This contemporary take on a Chinese favourite is the perfect way to celebrate Chinese Valentine’s day. A heart shaped mango pudding incorporates the finest imported mangos and will ensure ‘a sweet and smooth relationship’. The honeydew cream ball will also make sure that your lady will be back at the same table with you next Valentine’s day. But be warned this is the only day of the year you will be able to try out this beautifully crafted desert.

Chilled mango pudding and fried honeydew cream ball

Chilled mango pudding and fried honeydew cream ball

You can try these and other famous dishes at the Golden Court restaurant over the Chinese New Year period. You may want to book as the Golden Court is expecting to serve over 300 customers every day. The one thing that we can tell you for sure is that The Panda and The Dragon had one of the best meals they have had for some time.

Other great Chinese New Year celebrations at the Sands

  • The Sands have already created two millionaires with their “Red Envelope” promotion. Head to the Sands to see if you could be the third as this promotion is running right through the New Year period.
  • Free concert series at the Sands on the Xanadu main stage every day of the New Year. Live shows running 15 hours a day will showcase the very best in entertainment.
  • Auspicious celebrations to welcome in the New Year will be held on 14 February at midday. They will be held at the Sands Paiza entrance (near the fountain outside) and will showcase a dragon, six lions and firecrackers to drive away evil spirits and welcome the new year with prosperity, good health and happiness. There will be a showcase “tree” with gold symbols that will be given away to the public who are watching the ceremony.
  • e-Lounge promotions and giveaways: it’s a perfect time to check out the new e-Lounge at the Sands as they will have special giveaways and promotions over the new year period.