As is tradition at the Hilton Colombo, on 12 February, the hotel started off its Chinese New Year celebrations with the traditional mixing of Yee Sang at the hotel lobby.
The Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is an annual 15-day festival in China that is also celebrated by Chinese communities around the world. It begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between 21 January and 20 February, and the festivities last until the following full moon. The holiday is called the Lunar New Year because the dates of celebration are in conjunction with the phases of the moon, and much like many celebrations stemming from Chinese culture, origins of the Chinese New Year are steeped in legend.
In the year 2021, despite the many challenges the global community has experienced in the past year, the Hilton Colombo and everyone who celebrates the Chinese New Year welcomed the year of the Ox, which is said to bring stability and calmness and is predicted to be a year of great opportunities and economic prosperity – although, some scepticism on this is unavoidable considering 2020 was the year of the rat, which represented fertility, reproduction, and wealth, and whether any of these were experienced by anybody last year is questionable at best.
This year’s Chinese New Year event at the Hilton Colombo was a quiet affair, particularly considering how the Chinese New Year cultural activity, the Yee Sang, is usually a communal prosperity toss; including the tossing of shredded white and green radish and carrots, sliced ginger, sliced onion, crushed peanuts, pomelo, pepper, essence of chicken, oil, salt, vinegar, sugar, and more. However, in 2021, communal anything is ill advised and so we were left to yell out positive words and blessings as Executive Chef Robert Mujagic did the honours together with Creative Director Kay Ng.
Chef Robert and Kay tossed the ingredients high in the air, while those around the table loudly exclaimed “prosper” and other auspicious wishes.
Yet another change was adopted this year due to pandemic restrictions. While typically the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Hilton Colombo are followed by the Graze Kitchen offering a special Chinese menu for nearly two weeks in addition to their international dinner buffet, due to Covid-19, the hotel held a Chinese-themed dinner buffet only on the 12th, opting out of hosting the usual extended buffet.
While the Hilton Colombo does not have a dedicated chef for Chinese cuisine, Chef Robert, as usual, was more than up to the task, as he served up a vibrant new addition of authentic Chinese cuisine featuring speciality dishes from various regions of the country for the one-time-only dinner buffet. Usually, this new addition to the buffet is made available to diners at no extra charge in order to mark the Chinese New Year.
Despite the challenges faced by hospitality establishments, the many restaurants at the Hilton Colombo have attempted to keep hope alive by continuing to offer dine-in options and arranging for socially distanced seating and independent cutlery for guests to use safely.
While they have had to adopt some necessary changes like holding off on hosting their multitude of buffets, which are greatly popular amongst those in and around Colombo, the management shared that patrons can expect the buffets to return soon, as the hotel has perfected all the necessary safety precautions and are therefore confident in safely hosting their guests.
For reservations, please visit http://www.colombo.hilton.com/ or call 0112 492 492. You may also contact the Hilton Colombo via WhatsApp on +94 772 613 549.
PHOTOS Saman Abesiriwardana