16 February 2016

Chinese New Year Dinner at Grand Mercure Maha Cipta Jakarta Kemayoran

Catappa Restaurant
Grand Mercure Maha Cipta Jakarta Kemayoran
Jl. H. Benyamin Sueb Kav B-6
Superblok Mega Kemayoran
Kota Baru Bandar Kemayoran
Central Jakarta
Tel: 021-22601111


It is said that Chinese New Year was the moment when the people took revenge of the beast called Nian that ate people and children, using red paper, red clothes, red lanterns and firecrackers in front of their houses. 

In the modern life, Chinese New Year becomes an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the Annual Reunion Dinner and gift exchanges. Chinese New Year is also a time to honor deities and ancestors.

Just before they hold the Chinese New Year Dinner, they cleanse the house to take away any bad fortune and to welcome good luck. They also place all the red decorations at their houses that symbolizes fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. 

A reunion dinner when family members gather for celebration, named as "Nian Ye Fan", is held on Chinese New Year's Eve. The dinner is very large and traditionally includes special dishes of meat (pork, chicken, fish, duck, and seafood) as a main course for the dinner and offering for the New Year. Eight individual dishes are served to reflect the belief of good fortune associated with the number.

It is customary to make a glutinous new year cake (Niangao) that symbolizes prosperity and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends in the coming days of the new year.

Red packets contains money are distributed for the family during the reunion dinner. The money reflect good luck and honorability. Members of the family who are married give red envelopes containing cash (Lai See or Angpow), a form of blessings and to suppress the aging and challenges associated with the coming year, to junior members of the family (children and teenagers).

A Lion and Dragon dance is a symbolic ritual in the Chinese New Year to banish bad spirits from the premises with their loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively.


This year, I spend my Chinese New Year Dinner at Catappa Restaurant located in Grand Mercure Maha Cipta Jakarta Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. The hotel is a brand new one as it was opened in 2015. Its location is next to Mega Glodok Kemayoran - the mall. 

The size of Catappa Restaurant is big and has some very nice buffet menus. It serves an authentic mix of Indonesian, Chinese, and International cuisines. It is very good for family and friends gathering.  

Let's start the Chinese New Year Dinner! 

Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng

Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng

Yu Sheng or Yee Sang is the main opening dish for the Chinese New Year Dinner. Yu Sheng, also known as Lo Hei, is Prosperity Toss. It is a Teochew-style raw fish salad. It consists of strips of raw salmon, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments. Yu Sheng symbolizes a good luck and an increase in abundance, prosperity and vigor.

Yu Sheng has salmon served with white radish, carrots, red pepper, turnips, red pickled ginger, sun-dried oranges, lime leaves, parsley, chili, jellyfish, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, shrimp crackers (or fried dried shrimp), five spice powder and other ingredients, laced with a sauce using plum sauce, rice vinegar, kumquat paste and sesame oil, for a total of 27 ingredients.

To enjoy the dish, we need to do some unique settings. 

  • The basic ingredients are first served. One of the family members proceeds to add ingredients such as the salmon, the crackers and the sauces while saying something about "auspicious wishes". The phrases of "May there be abundance year after year" are uttered as the salmon is added.
  • The pomelo or lime is added to the salmon, adding good luck and smooth life.
  • Pepper is then dashed over in the hope of attracting more wealth and treasures.
  • Then oil is poured out, circling the ingredients and encouraging numerous sources of wealth.
  • Carrots are added indicating blessings of good luck.
  • Then the shredded green radish is placed symbolizing eternal youth and the shredded white radish is added symbolizing prosperity in business and promotion at work.
  • Peanut crumbs are dusted on the dish, symbolizing a household filled with gold and silver.
  • Sesame seeds quickly follow symbolizing prosperity for the business.
  • Yu Sheng sauce is generously drizzled over everything that symbolizes sweet life.
  • Deep-fried flour crisps in the shape of golden pillows is then added with wishes that the whole floor would be filled with gold.

Everyone at the table then stand up and proceed to toss the shredded ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying various "auspicious wishes" out loud, or simply "Lo Hei, Lo Hei" or "scoop it up, scoop it up". It is believed that the height of the toss reflects the height of growth in fortunes, thus diners are expected to toss enthusiastically.

The taste of Yu Sheng is so colorful. Salty, sweet, sour, savory, and fresh. This dish is a very perfect appetizer! 

Wok-Fried Beef Tenderloin Black Pepper Sauce

Wok-Fried Beef Tenderloin Black Pepper Sauce

The beef is so tender and juicy, while the taste of the black pepper is absorbed deeply in the beef. Very delicious! 

Braised Sea Cucumber with Spinach and Quail Egg

Braised Sea Cucumber with Spinach and Quail Egg

This is the first time for me to eat Sea Cucumber. I like how it feels in my mouth. It feels so soft and chewy. Nom! Nom! Nom! As the Quail Egg and Spinach are my favorite dishes too, these two make everything on the plate right. The thick brown sauce is very tasteful!

Steamed Tiger Grouper Cantonese Style

Steamed Tiger Grouper Cantonese Style

As this dish arrives on the table, it looks a bit scary as I feel haunted by the fish. It is going to bite me! Look at its teeth! LOL!

Well, I find out that the taste is not as scary as it looks. The fish is tempting and appetizing. The unique spices in the dish (in Cantonese style) and the mushroom around the fish add more flavor to it. The brown sauce is very good. As a fan of fish, this dish is my perfect choice.

The fish is believed to symbolize surpluses. Yes, it gives surpluses to my belly too :-D

Deep Fried Crispy Lobster with Wheat Flake

Deep Fried Crispy Lobster with Wheat Flake

This is something that I don't want to miss. LOBSTER! It is cooked in such way that it tastes so crispy and marvelous. It is easy to bite and chew it. There is no need to eat this with rice, as it has wheat around it. The wheat gives a full volume to the dish.

Stir Fried Kailan with Bailing Mushroom Oyster Sauce & Grand Mercure Jakarta Kemayoran Fried Rice

Stir Fried Kailan with Bailing Mushroom Oyster Sauce & Grand Mercure Jakarta Kemayoran Fried Rice

As a lover of vegetables, the Stir Fried Kailan with Bailing Mushroom Oyster Sauce is my heaven. Both of the ingredients are fresh, tasty, chewy, and healthy. What more can you ask?

The Grand Mercure Jakarta Kemayoran Fried Rice itself is a favorite meal in the hotel. It is a fried rice cooked in Chinese style with a bunch of seafood inside. It is a perfect companion for any dishes served in Chinese New Year Dinner.

Mango Pudding 

Mango Pudding

The Mango Pudding with pieces of Strawberry, Lemon and White Chocolate is a good sweet to close the dinner. After all the savory and salty dishes, the sweetness in the pudding freshen up my mouth and my throat.

Fried Basket Cake

Fried Basket Cake

Basket Cake

The Basket Cake (Niangao or Tii Kwee) is a seasonal or yearly cake that is made from glutinous flour and sugar. It has an elastic and sticky texture. In the past, it is believed that the cake was given to satisfy the gods.

It is named Basket Cake because the original wrapper is made from a bamboo basket with a little hole in the middle. Nowadays, the wrapper is made from plastic too as it is more simple to get and can show the beauty color of the cake. The shape is round, symbolizing unity, peace and longevity.

If you eat just the Basket Cake without frying it, the taste is sweet and the texture is sticky. If you eat the Fried Basket Cake, the taste is a bit tasteful and the texture is crispy.

Overall, the Chinese New Year Dinner I attend is a lovely experience for me to welcome the year of Fire Monkey 2016! It is always good to learn about other people's tradition and understand about the meaning of the ceremony.

Along with many hopes and prayers implied during the lovely Chinese New Year Dinner, my wishes and prayers for everyone are:  

May all your wishes be fulfilled!
May you hear that all is well!
May a small investment bring ten-thousandfold profits!
May your happiness and longevity be complete and without limit!
May your wealth be acquired!


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