As the most important festival for Chinese people, Chinese New Year is a special time of the year for family reunions. Nothing can be more festive than celebrating this festival with loved ones over a delicious meal. Café Mix at Shangri-La welcomed Chinese New Year with delicate Chinese style decorations and a bountiful Asian-inspired seafood buffet.
A classic oil-paper umbrella instantly caught my attention before I even walked into the buffet. I felt as though the authentic oil-paper umbrella would lead me to a Chinese courtyard where there are copper door knockers on the vermilion painted entrance gate; or maybe at the next corner I will wander along a long solitary lane in the rain holding that oil-paper umbrella.
The witty joke on the side evoked a hearty laughter from the guests and that was how Café Mix Shangri-La got us ready for the Chinese New Year feast.
I especially liked how Café Mix used Spring Festival Couplets (chunlian in Chinese) to decorate their doorway. After all, Spring Festival Couplets are the most common and important custom when celebrating Chinese New Year, which also means the beginning of the 15-day celebration. Pasting couplets expresses people’s delight in the festival and wishes for a better life in the coming year.
站在门口的服务生彬彬有礼、笑脸相迎。在被领引到我们的餐桌上的路上，我一直在左顾右盼，饶有兴致地打量着自助餐厅的装潢 — 天花板上垂下来的红灯笼、窗子上的福字剪纸窗花、墙边坠下的红炮竹和红包，这一切的一切都唤起了我记忆深处童年里对新年的记忆。
While I was greeted by the welcoming staff, I instantly noticed the attention to detail on — red lanterns and Chinese knots from the ceiling, red paper-cuts and upside-down Fu (福) on windows — everything reminded me of childhood back in China.
In Chinese culture, hanging red lanterns and Chinese knots in front of the door is believed to drive off bad luck. Nowadays they also act as good luck charms in important festivals such as Spring Festival (Chinese New Year to the Lantern Festival) and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Paper-cutting is one of the oldest and most popular folk arts in China. It can be geographically divided into a southern and a northern style. The northern style is best represented by works from my hometown Shaanxi.
Fu (福) character indicates “good fortune”. They are supposed to be inverted based on a wordpay: in nearly all varieties of Chinese: the words for “upside-down” (倒, Pinyin: dào) and “to arrive” (到, Pinyin: dào) are homophonous. Therefore, the phrase an “upside-down Fu” sounds nearly identical to the phrase “Good luck arrives”. I can’t blame Shangri-La for not doing this. After all this is not in China!
If you are lucky enough to get a table next to the window, make sure that you have your camera ready for the beautiful garden view and spectacular sunset!
Indulging in the Chinese culture, Shangri-La even prepared red packets for all guests! I can’t be happier when receiving red packets, although, the significance of red packets is the red paper, not the money inside. So it can be impolite to open a red envelope in front of the person who gives it to you. If you want to find out what’s inside that red envelope, go and check it out for yourself! I’m not going to ruin your little surprise.
Me and a seafood buffet together are dangerous. I always choose to begin my meal with a sumptuous seafood feast. The bountiful Asian-influenced seafood display was jaw-dropping, not to even mention the delicate art of plating, which was completely irresistible to me.
终于在海鲜区徘徊许久之后，我精心挑选了餐厅各类海鲜中最鲜美的品种 — Sydney Rock Oyster, Pacific Oyster, Hot Smoked King Trout, Bok Choy & Pork, Caesar Salad, Choi Sam & Mushrooms, Poached Prawns, Poached Vannemi Prawns, Blue Swimmer Crab。
It took me a while to fill my plate as there were so many choices — Sydney Rock Oyster, Pacific Oyster, Hot Smoked King Trout, Bok Choy & Pork, Caesar Salad, Choi Sam & Mushrooms, Poached Prawns, Poached Vannemi Prawns, Blue Swimmer Crab.
Poached Vannamei Prawns非常新鲜，可以说是整个海鲜区的小小惊喜！餐厅对于储存温度的专业处理也让鲜虾的味道格外的清甜。我还尤其喜欢菠菜肉松（ Bok Choy & Prok）这道凉菜，肉松咸辣适中，嚼在嘴里就像是咸咸的棉花糖一样。
The poached Vannamei Prawns were extremely fresh, soft and sweet. I would almost recommend you to go straight for that once you get started! I also liked the Bok Choy & Pork when the pork floss tasted like savoury and sweet cotton candy!
Sydney Rock Oyster肉色浅黄，口感细腻，但肉厚滑嫩，鲜味突出。滑入口时你最先品尝得到是出自海水的淡淡的咸，细细品味，会发现生蚝惯有的腥味在刚刚就要溢出时，被柔润甘甜的口感恰到好处的中和掉了。这里的悉尼石蚝（Sydney Rock Oyster）似乎比其他地方的更加丰滑鲜嫩，非常适合吃不惯生蚝的腥味却又想要品尝鲜味的入门级吃货。
The Sydney Rock Oysters had a particular rich and creamy taste. When I slid the oysters down my throat, a fleeting instant of salty, iodine and citrus reminded me of why I’ve always enjoyed oysters. These were even sweeter than other Sydney Rock Oysters I’ve had in the past, perfect for oyster newbies.
The buffet also included regional Chinese specialties, clay pot dishes, cold sucking pig and more. The abundant variety of food definitely met my expectations.
这里既有来自北方的辣子鸡（Wok Fried Chicken & Nuts），炒菜花（Wok Fried Cauliflower）和孜然羊肉（Uncle Freddy’s Traditional Lamb in Spicy Condiments），还有来自上海的菠菜五花肉（Shanghai Style Braised Pork Belly & Baby Bok Choy），来自广东的生菜包（San Choi Bao），更有来自东南亚中餐的香辣蟹（Wok Fried Singapore Chilly Mud Crab）。当然还有粥点和小菜供你选择。
Savoury items included Wok Fried Chicken & Nuts, Wok Fried Cauliflower and Uncle Freddy’s Traditional Lamb in Spicy Condiments, Shanghai Style Braised Pork Belly & Baby Bok Choy to Cantonese style San Choi Bao and Wok Fried Singapore Chilli Mud Crab, and congee of course — you’d feel dazzled by all these delicacies.
I can guarantee you with my Chinese food experience, the chicken, cauliflower and lamb were legit authentic.
香辣蟹（Wok Fried Singapore Chilli Mud Crab）里的甜辣酱非常入味，如果你习惯了粤式或者西方传统的海鲜烹饪风味，你可能会觉得甜辣酱让螃蟹失去了原本的鲜味和质感。但是我本身来自于中国的北方，从小就是抱着辣酱罐长大的，这样的入味正让我爱不释手，只希望甜辣酱的味道更重一些呢！
The Wok Fried Singapore Chilli Mud Crab was totally my dish! If you are used to Cantonese style or western seafood, you may find the sweet chilli sauce too overpowering for the crab, but don’t ask me, I grew up with a sweet chilli sauce jar in my hands.
I’m not very familiar with San Choi Bao since it’s a traditional Cantonese dish. The San Choi Bao here was flavoured with a strong black bean and garlic sauce which was a bit too salty for my palate.
我喜欢自助餐的另一个原因就是你可以根据自己的口味喜好自由搭配食物，以达到食物味道和口感的最佳状态。因此在这里我做了一个大胆有趣的尝试 — 将生蚝和牛肉搭配在一起吃。牛肉的香鲜和生蚝的腥鲜搭配在一起，竟然完美的中和了二者身上的腥味，反而进一步提升了牛肉和生蚝的口感！有实验精神的朋友们欢迎尝试哦。
Another reason why I love buffets is that you can play with your food and be totally innovative and creative! Here, I invented my own dish — oysters + beef, surprisingly it tasted amazing! The oyster’s freshness and the beef’s fine texture enhanced each other’s nuances and I just couldn’t stop eating them!
After my signature dish, I didn’t have any room at all for dessert, but you can’t tell people you’ve been to a buffet without trying their dessert. Dessert is to a meal what a dress is to a woman, so I decided to get some sushi. What? Why was I eating even more? Don’t worry, sushi was just like appetiser for me to munch on. The sushi station wasn’t very big, but enough to satisfy your sushi cravings.
这里有两个甜点吧，一个是西式甜点，另一个是中式的。西式甜点种类繁多，从法式马卡龙（Macaron）到法式焦糖烤布蕾（Crème Brûlée）和焦糖布丁（Crème Caramel），再到抹茶红豆蛋糕和巧克力慕斯，五彩缤纷的颜色就足以让我眼花缭乱。如果你钟爱甜食，那么你一定不能错过这里的甜点吧。
There were two dessert bars, Chinese and western, plentiful to put you in sugar coma. The western sweet treats were mouthwatering! From macarons, crème brûlée and crème caramel to matcha red bean cake and chocolate mousse cake, there was no end to the collections of cakes, tarts, confections and cookies that can be combined to excite and satisfy your taste buds. If you have a sweet tooth, you absolutely can’t miss this!
Of course you’d expect to see some traditional Chinese elements at the Chinese dessert bar. The lanterns and sachets brought me back to China from 2,000 years ago. The egg tarts and mango pancakes are perfect for those who would like to try something refreshing. A crèpe station allowed you to enjoy freshly made goodies, with all kinds of toppings from fruity jams to fresh strawberry, dragonfruit and mango.
I was a total macaron fan when I was in France. Those tiny round cakes are a unique combination of crisp, soft, and chewy. With the colourful shells and delicate surfaces, macarons are my ultimate goal for dessert, both aesthetically and texture-wise. The mango and coconut macarons had very smooth surfaces. Under the lights, the ruffled “pieds” (“feet”) looked like their elegant laced skirt border.
The outer shell was crisp and gave way to a soft chewy centre with an intense burst of flavour. The cookie’s texture beneath the crust was light, just a little chewy, and soft, but definitely not so soft that it’s mushy. I noticed that the macarons in Sydney are generally sweeter than the ones in France. Maybe it’s how pastry chefs cater to the Aussie palate.
You have to admit, crème brûlée is always the most popular dessert on the menu. I mean, who can resist that mouthful of smooth and silky texture? I was so lucky to get the last one at the bar. The orgasmic combination of light vanilla custard with crunchy torched raw sugar made my tastes buds waltz on my tongue!
I always like to have some fruit after dessert, just to make sure I’m not in a sugar coma. Café Mix prepared these special apples for Chinese New Year.
Apple in Chinese symbolises peace and safe. The word for apple in Chinese is ping (苹), the homonym of ping (平) is peace, also safe, which is why they had “平安” on the apples. To be honest, I have never even seen apples with Chinese characters in China! So now you can tell the extent to which Café Mix Shangri-La is celebrating Chinese New Year. But now the problem is, the apple is so pretty, how should I take my first bite…
The Chinese New Year buffet at Cafe Mix is priced at $85 per person. It was available from 6pm – 10pm from 27 Jan 2017 through 4 Feb 2017.
Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9250 6206
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Shangri-La