HCM City hotels get into the Tet swing of things
by Vo Le Hong
|Just lion around: The New World Hotel will host a lion dance. — File Photos|
Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is the most impor tant festival in Viet Nam. It is a time for family unions and reunions as people travel from far and wide to be with their loved ones in their homeland. It is also a time when everyone enjoys sumptuous traditional Tet’s specialties. Leading hotels nationwide have also got into the act, offering special buffets and events to welcome the Year of the Buffalo. A HCM City sampling follows.
Duxton Hotel Sai Gon
The Duxton Hotel Sai Gon has prepared a special buffet to serve diners from 23-29 January, and an extra special one on the Lunar New Year Day (which falls next Monday). There will also be a traditional lion dance at the hotel from 8am – 10am.
The lion dance is an important tradition believed to bring good luck and happiness. The dance will have 40 people to become four 3m kylins, wearing green, red, yellow and white, representing Tu Qui Hung Long, meaning four seasons of prosperous business, and Binh An Vo Su, which roughly means safe and sound. A 20m dragon, two lions and Ong Dia (Earth God) who will lead the lions and the kylins into the hotel, and group of musicians with drums, cymbals and gongs will set off the festivities.
Tet at the Duxton grill will include Chinese barbecue, an oyster hot pot and Chinatown lap mei fun, apart from a wide variety of noodles, seafood and other meats.
There will be also a li xi dip from which diners can draw lots to win prizes including a cash voucher, hamper and cakes.
Welcoming Spring Drum is a traditional music performance at Rex Hotel on the first and second days of the Lunar New Year at 9-9.30am and 15-15.30pm. There are two big Tay Son group drums which will participate in a chamber music composition named Ngu Loi (Five Thunders). It symbolises five main elements creating a peaceful earth and prosperous life. This will be followed by a variety entertainment show.
Next Monday, the Renaissance Riverside Hotel Sai Gon will open its Vietnamese traditional Tet celebrations with a spectacular lion dance performance in front of the hotel.
The dance will be performed by the famous Nhon Nghia Duong acrobat troop. Guests and associates will gather in the hotel lobby at 10am to witness the the traditional Tet event. After the lion dance performance, the management team will distribute red envelopes with best wishes and lucky money for every guest in the hotel.
“Yee Sang” will be the signature dish for this Lunar New Year’s festival at the Equatorial Hotel. It is a colourful dish with many different vegetables and fruits that will form a hill in the centre of the hotel’s lobby, decorated with thousands of tiny red lights and numerous lanterns. Besides the ‘mountain of food’ is placed a big salmon.
When the cerebrations begin, the chef will drizzle some spices and oil as well as fillet salmon to mix the food. Diners will use big chopsticks to toss the food as high as they can. The belief is that the diverse colours and aromatic flavours will bring good luck and natural bounty in the Year of the Buffalo.
The Legend Hotel Sai Gon is well festooned for Tet celebrations with red lanterns, bonsai, miniature kumquat bushes, ochna plants and peach blossoms. Next Monday, the first day of the new lunar year, a grand lion dance will start the day (8.00-9.30am), followed by a ceremony to present offerings to express appreciation to heaven, earth, deities and ancestors. The lions will also go through the entire hotel, visiting each restaurant and bar. From 25th to 28th January, the hotel’s Atrium Cafe will feature a Tet Buffet that will add traditional Tet specials and authentic Vietnamese delicacies from the north, centre and south to the restaurant’s international buffet. Visitors can leisurely enjoy banh chung, banh tet (sticky rice cake), thit kho tau (braised pork), gio thu (pig’s head paste), dua hanh (pickled welsh onion) and cu kieu (pickled scallion heads.)
Caravelle’s set menu
The Caravelle Hotel welcomes the Year of the Buffalo from January 25-28 with a buffet at its award-winning “Ninteen” restaurant that seeks to entrench its leading position.
At Nineteen’s ‘action stations,’ whole fish is steamed in soy sauce Chinese style and the leg of lamb is roasted with mustard and thyme. Then there’s roasted beef chuck eye roll in a red wine sauce, oyster with spinach and a Hollandaise sauce and banh xeo. For appetisers, take your fill of Vietnamese beef salad, an assortment of sushi and sashimi on ice, rock lobster salad and, of course, banh chung.
Sofitel Sai Gon Plaza
For the festive occasion, the hotel will have traditional decorations featuring yellow ochna blossoms in the lobby area and red lanterns hung over the ceiling of the entrance to invite good luck. All guests are invited to join the hotel’s festivities on the first day of Lunar New Year next Monday. From 1 pm – 1.30 pm, kylin and dragon dances will be performed and lucky gifts presented to guests by Ong Dia (The Earth God)
Diners can welcome Tet at the Rooftop Bar, the Prima Ballroom and Breeze Sky Bar with a great view of the fireworks display on the Lunar New Year. Other entertainments will include a Vietnamese water puppet performance, lion and kylin dances and calligraphy exhibition.
A variety music performance including pop music by the APO Group, a band from the Philippines and Vietnamese traditional music will be interspersed with a magic show, kungfu performance, lantern floating ceremony and the offering of lucky money by the three Gods of Happiness, Wealth and Longevity. — VNS
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