What’s Up: 2017 Chinese New Year 新年快乐

If you think that Chinese celebrates New year during the first of January, well you are wrong. This 2017, Chinese people will be celebrating spring festival this January 28 and for them, this is a very important holiday and chance for gatherings of families.

So why is it a big deal for Chinese to celebrative Spring Festival?

  • To celebrate a year of hard work, have a good rest with family; and
  • To wish for a lucky and prosperous new year.

So how do Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year? Well, in the Philippines, I grew up experiencing the below but at the same time, I added those which the Chinese people do in China during this celebration.

1. We wake up early. My father will force us to wake up early and start moving coz he said that we are supposed to be awake and energize the whole year so we should start it on that day.

2. We wear red clothes also underwear because it is a belief that red is a lucky color and it attracts success and fortune.

3. We clean and decorate our house with red paper chinese lamps & we make sure that the altar of Chinese gods are well-lit and food such as fruits and chinese sweets are serve infront of them. We even hang Hong Bao (红包) or red envelope infront of our door so that it will attract dragon and lion dancers to come in our house and bless us and wards off evil spirit.

4. We also give Hong Bao or red envelopes to our families, relatives and friends to wish them success and fortune in the coming year.

5. We also prepare food and usually we have sweet round fruits, sweet round foam bread, rice cakes, almond pie, fish because according to Chinese belief that chinese word for fish 鱼 sounds like surplus 余 which means eating fish will bring surplus of money and good luck.

6. Like I have mentioned earlier, there are lion or dragon dancers who visit different establishments whether it be commercial or residential in order to “perform”. Along with them are other performers who does the drums, cymbals and gongs. The drummer is the conductor and he set the rhythm. When we were young, my siblings and I, are always excited about Chinese New Year because we earn money by joining the lion/dragon dance. Lion Dance is perform by two people – one who controls the lion’s head and the other guy handles controls the tail. Meanwhile, the dragon dance is performed by many people since it is quite long and it moves in S movement. My brothers and cousins know how to play the drum, control the head and tail; while, I, just play the cymbals or gongs. 😀 Even my father was known to have so much passion in lion dancing. He would tell us that he does stunts and exhibitions while controlling the head of the lion, and they get paid a hefty amount of money. 

7. We are also encourage to welcome the Chinese New Year by visiting Chinese temples. We live near Chinatown in Manila so the nearest temple that we visit is the one near Narra in Masangkay. We would light an incense stick and pray and wish to the gods. They are giving away soup and ginger tea in the temple and once the clock strikes 12 midnight then there would be firework.

So what are the Dos and Don’ts during Chinese New Year?

Do’s & Don’ts

Don’t forget to send good vibes all year long! 🙂

Where to Eat: Bu Qtair Restaurant

If you are craving for fresh seafood and casual dining experience right beside the beach, then head on to Jumeirah road along Kite beach and check out Bu Qtair Restaurant. Known for its quaint, unusual concept and location, this place surely offers limited menu of fried fresh fish (they have Sherry and Hammour), chili fried prawns, curry sauce, yellow/biryani rice (but they also have white rice) and paratha.

Bu Qtair Restaurant

Prior to visiting their place, we decided to give them a call night before our visit and we were informed that they are open during weekend from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM then 6:00PM to 11:30 PM. If you are coming from Deira then you can take Bus X28, else you can take Metro station and get off Jafiliya Station and ride Bus X28. We arrived around 2:00PM and the place is already full so I asked Doppy to check the outdoor seating and reserve a table for us while I wait in the queue at the order station.

Queue at the order station

They have a reminder posted near the order station informing customers that all tables are reserved. So what you need to do is order first then wait outside to be called, once you heard your name, collect your food and ask a server to lead you to an empty table- which obviously we didn’t do. 🙂

Hand wash section & Reminders

When it was my turn to order, I chose half kilo of the marinated and unshelled prawns (1kg is AED 150) and one medium Hamour (i think this is around AED 50). We also ordered 2 plates of Biryani rice and two softdrinks in can. We paid AED 165.00 for all and the servings are just too much for the two of us.

Too be honest, there’s so much hype for this restaurant. I mean the chili prawns aren’t that tasty. It’s rubbery and you’ll taste burned seasonings rather than tasty and flavorful prawns aside from them being too oily. However, we love the very tasty and well-marinated Hamour. The fish meat was able to absorb the seasonings that’s why it’s definitely a star for us. I love Hamour coz it is full of fish meat and less bones but they are just expensive. I prefer having white rice with my fish and prawns because my palate is confused between the taste of the Biryani and the fish & Shrimp. You can add curry sauce to your white rice – this I believe is much better. Our order is good for 3 to 4 person so if you want to experience this restaurant, bring 3 of your friends so you can share the bill among yourselves.

If you plan to visit them, make sure that you have lots of patience because the waiting time for the food to arrive is quite long and sometimes you need to constantly follow up your order. Also, their staff are not that accommodating and attentive because they will ignore you and won’t listen to your inquiries and requests.That’s why It can be frustrating.

Restaurant Name: Bu Qtair Restaurant

Location: Near Burj Al Arab, Street 4D, Opposite Fishermans Accomodation, Umm Suqeim, Dubai (Access location in google map)

Menu: Fried Sherry, Fried Hamour, Fried Prawns, White rice, Biryani rice & Paratha.

Payment method: Cash only

Where to Eat: Filipino Boodle Fight in Dubai- La Mesa Restaurant

 

Today, Two Nomads (of Two-Nomads.com) , our friend Anne & I decided to have our brunch ala Boodle fight at La Mesa Restaurant located in the heart of Deira City Centre Metro station. You will be able to find them behind the Somewhere Hotel. Don’t be confuse, there really is a hotel named Somewhere hotel infront Deira City Centre. 😁

Boodle Fight is a term used to describe the manner in which military army are eating together with their hands and the food are spread altogether in a long table covered with banana leaves. Nowadays, this kind of feast happens in Filipino family reunion, get together or birthday parties. The food include steamed rice, seafoods (steamed shrimp, crabs in oyster sauce/steamed crabs, ensaladang mangga/green mango mixed with shrimp paste, onions & tomatoes, chicken barbeque, roast pork/Liempo, chopsuey/mixed vegetables, pancit bihon/pancit canton. Well, it is really up to you what you want to serve in your boodle feast. You can also include fruits such as watermelon, strawberries and banana on the sides.

La Mesa Restaurant Boodle Fight

If you want to try Filipino boodle fight, head on to La Mesa Restaurant and check their boodle fight set menu which comes with unlimited steamed rice and iced tea. Their servings are good for 3 to 4 person. We tried the Manyaman which cost AED 169 (USD 46/PHP 2,270). This set includes grilled milkfish, Beef Karekare (beef cooked with peanut sauce and mixed vegetables), steamed shrimp, Chicken sisig, salted egg, Sweet marinated chicken, unlimited rice and bottomless iced tea. The fish is perfectly cooked but a bit bland so you have to dip it in the soy sauce, the chicken sisig is okay but not that amazing, the steamed shrimp is perfectly sweet (that means it is fresh), the sweet marinated chicken is okay but I want my Tocino/longganisa to be soft and chewy, the Beef Kare Kare is too sweet for my taste and their shrimp paste is too salty. They also gave us free sinigang/tangy soup. I suggest that you check all their set menu so you have an idea of the food included in each set.

When it comes to the ambience and theme of the restaurant, aside from their variations of songs being played inside the restaurant and the one being played outdoor, It gives a very Filipino designs in terms of tables and chairs as well as their indoor designs and displays. The servers are friendly and very accomodating. Order time and serving time isn’t that long so yes, you can definitely patiently wait for your food to be serve.

La Mesa Restaurant contact detail
Boodle Fight Menu

 

Restaurant name: La Mesa Restaurant

Cuisine: Filipino

Location: Ground floor, Centurion Star Tower, behind Day to Day, Deira City Centre, Dubai

Timings: Sun – Thurs – 11:30 am to 12 mn; Fri – Sat 10 am to 12mn

Contact number: 04-2979112

Where to Eat: Hotpot in Dubai – Xiao Hong Niu Hotpot

It is winter season in the UAE and you can find people strolling and dining outside until 12midnight or 2 am. Since we have a cold weather, hot food is always a good choice. Hotpot (火锅) also known as Chinese fondue is one of the most famous food in China. Basically, it is a metal pot with either two kinds of broth (spicy & normal) mixed with chinese herbs. You will then let the broth boil and then add mixed meat, seafoods, and vegetables.

Last night, we had our Hotpot dinner at Xiao Hong Niu Restaurant (小红牛火锅/ Little Red Ox Hotpot) located in Salah Al Din just after Ansar Gallery. They have different Hotpot set (which has fixed price and fixed ingredients) depending on how many person will eat or you can customize your own hotpot (with prices depending on the ingredients). We chose the set which cost AED 138 (USD 38/PHP 1,850) and is good for 3 to 4 person. It has two separate broth, mixed dumpling, lettuce, water cabbage, shrimp, tofu, 3 kinds of mushrooms, seaweeds, meat, crab dumpling, squid and noodles. We opt not to eat rice except for Kuya. 😁 Then we ordered bottomless plum iced tea for AED 12 (USD 4/PHP 161).

Unlike in Xiao Wei Yang Hotpot which charges their customers AED 4 for each customer for the condiments, seasonings and hotpot sauces; Xiao Hong Niu serves them for free. So in a small bowl you can mix soy sauce, chili garlic oil or just chili sauce, crushed fresh garlic, chopped onion leaves or peanut sauce; then in your separate bowl, you can mix the broth and your sauces. You dont mix all the sauces in the metal hotpot since all of you are sharing the hotpot and the others might not like your choice of sauces so you mix yours in a separate bowl. Make sure that taste first the spicy broth prior to taking in a spoonful coz it might be too spicy for your taste. Also, when putting in the ingredients in the hotpot, you have to put the meat first, then mushroom, vegetables, seafoods except shrimp, dumplings then tofu and lastly the shrimp. If you are not sure of which sauce to mix, I recommend that you have soy sauce, onion leaves, fresh minced garlic, chili and chili oil and salt OR some opt to eat theirs with peanut sauce.

With the Two nomads of Two-nomads.com & our dear friend A

Besides it delicious flavors, I like the concept of hotpot because it brings friends and loved ones closer because you have the chance to eat, drink and have a good conversation during the course of meal. In addition, it is also healthy because of the way the food is cook and the nutritious ingredients. I remember when I went to Xiamen, they have this very over-the-top spicy hotpot and they said that once in a while they eat it coz it is good for bowel movement and at the same time, they make sure that the following days they will be just eating steamed vegetables and fish.

So what do you need to remember when having a hotpot?

1. Make sure you let the broth boil first before putting in the ingredients

2. Put in food that takes longer time to cook. For instance, meat, mushrooms, dumplings then followed by vegetables, tofu and then shrimp

3. Do not mix the broth with any condiments because others may not like it. So just get a separate bowl and scoop in some broth and then mix your sauces in your own bowl.

4. Careful not to immediately swallow or put the food in your mouth. They are extremely hot. I am sure you dont want to end up having a numb tongue.

5. You may use the ladle to transfer the broth from the hotpot to your bowl. And you may request for spoon aside from the chinese spoon for soup that they provide.

6. Yes, you may have rice. 😊 Put some mixed broth on top of your rice and it taste amazing.

7. Prepare tissue and handkerchief in case you cannot control the spice and you end up getting sweaty.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t hesitate to try on something new. Head on and find the perfect hotpot for you.

Now What? : We go gaga over DSF (Dubai Shopping Festival)

Even guys go gaga over #DubaiShoppingFestival this year. Everyone is heading out to different malls around Dubai to get their hands on the latest fashion trends, gadgets, accessories and a whole lot more. Huge brands like Old Navy, Top shop, Mont Blanc, Nine West, Bershka, Footlocker & many more are having sales/promotions.

Two-nomads of Two-nomads.com & Doppy

Tips on shopping during #DSF :

1. Come early so you have ample time to try out the clothes/shoes w/o taking time queueing outside the fitting room.

2. If you are early then you will have good chances to find the nicest stuff on sale. Plus,you wont have to dig in the pile of clothes or rack to search for the good stuff.

3. Wear comfortable clothings. Bear in mind that we are in a Muslim country so we need to consider also our Muslim brothers & sisters who might find skimpy & short clothings to be too provocative. In addition, it is cold nowadays so bring jacket or cardigan to keep you warm.

4. Note that it is going to be crowded in the malls so check on the internet which malls are frequently visited. Good suggestion would be #MirdiffCityCentre. The place is amazing and houses big brands & is frequently visited by the local Emiratis.

5. Take care of your belongings. Ensure that you have your phone, card, cash and other items in possession coz you never know, you might misplace it. Dubai is a safe country but sometimes we lose things because we’re too complacent to leave things behind. Of course, we never know if people might mistook it as theirs and bring it with them.

6. If you are going to bring your little ones, try to have them wear a bracelet with your contact details so that it will be easier for someone who will assist them to find you in case they are lost.

7. Dont be an impulsive buyer. Try to research and compare the price prior to buying in the mall. Check out your credit card or debit card promo that you can avail. Dont waste the chance of using these promos.

8. If you get hungry while shopping, save money and head on to their foodcourt. You will appreciate the wide range of food stalls & cuisines that offer affordable & delicious food. Dubai Mall has one of the biggest foodcourt.

Enjoy shopping and remember, DO NOT GO BEYOND YOUR MEANS. 🙂