A chef on loan from Hyatt Regency Shanghai Wujiaochang is whipping up a feast during Hyatt Regency Saipan’s three-day Chinese New Year 2017 buffet.
Kili Café & Terrace will be front in center in the celebration of the Year of Red Rooster at the Garapan landmark that starts today, Jan. 26, and ends on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Guest chef Tim Zhu, who started cooking in third grade, said he would be cooking a veritable all-star spread of Chinese New Year favorites for Hyatt’s guests to welcome the Year of the Red Rooster.
Zhu is preparing crispy fish in dark soy sauce as one of the appetizers. In Chinese, fish sounds like surplus and a dish made out of fish is a staple in Chinese dining tables during Chinese New Year.
He will also be serving deep fried spring roll, duckling and vegetables. Chinese love eating springs rolls during Lunar New Year as their shape and color remind them of gold bars.
For the main course, one of the dishes is wok fried crab and rice cake. The latter element is vital in Chinese New Year celebrations, as glutinous rice cake roughly translates to getting higher each passing year. This is important in business as getting higher equates to prosperity.
In keeping with the glutinous rice theory, Zhu will serve strawberry rice mochi with a couple of slices of lychee for dessert.
Zhu, who has 20 years of working as a chef, said the biggest challenge of preparing the Chinese New Year buffet at the Hyatt is adjusting to a Western-style kitchen. He said the temperature of his wok is more intense at his traditional Chinese kitchen in Shanghai.
While shopping for ingredients in a new locale is difficult, he readily accepts the challenge and treats it as a chance to use his ingenuity.
“I learn from school all the dishes I cooked, but adapt from other places depending on what is available and on season,” he said, through Hyatt Chinese market officer Mei Demapan.
On a personal note, Zhu said he’s very impressed with how relaxed people are on Saipan compared to those in Shanghai where everything is fast paced.
Hyatt executive chef Gabriele Colombo thanked Zhu for serving as the hotel’s guest chef for this year’s celebration.
“For us in the kitchen it’s always a pleasure and honor to learn from a guest chef coming in, especially a chef from Shanghai,” he said.
Hyatt’s Chinese New Year Buffet is from 6pm to 9pm at the Kili Café & Terrace, Jan. 26-28. It costs $35 for Club at the Hyatt members and $55 for regular customers. For reservations, call 234-1234 ext. 26.