I love the Chinese New Year holiday. My Chinese friends certainly know how to celebrate it. Every year, on the occasion of the new moon of January or February, they begin to party … and they don’t stop for 15 days.
In Bend, although the Chinese community is small, the celebrations are substantial. You may not hear the strings of firecrackers nor see the colorful lion dances prevalent in such larger centers as San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C., but the observance is just as heartfelt.
Last night, I greeted the first day of the Year of the Dragon at 5 Fusion & Sushi Bar, where chefs Di Long and Joe Kim prepared an eight-course feast worthy of a Ming emperor.
“The number eight is widely regarded in Chinese culture as a universally lucky number,” explained 5 Fusion owner Lilian Chu. “Dining on eight courses is a truly auspicious way to usher in the new year!”
In China, the beginning of the lunar new year is regarded as a time of renewal, when the misfortune of the previous 12 months may be swept away to make room for a new start. Prosperity and long life are celebrated year-round, but especially at this time.
As served by Long, Kim and the 5 Fusion staff, our meal began with assorted dim sum, followed by a delicious bisque of sun-dried tomatoes with scallops. It continued with “longevity” noodles with grilled shrimp, followed by rich chunks of lobster sautéed with butter and cheese.
The highlight of the meal was whole roasted red snapper, served head-on with a succulent glaze. Guests at the dinner were not at all reluctant about tearing into the fish, leaving little more than skeletons when the platters were finally removed.
Five-spice-seasoned crispy chicken and a Buddha’s medley of Asian vegetables completed the savory portion of the dinner.
For dessert, Long presented a sweet ginger-custard bun with a coconut-taro compote and lychee salad. It was a fitting introduction to her new bakery, which will open in early February on Bond Street in downtown Bend (details to follow). Long said it will feature French- and Asian-influenced pastries, savory as well as sweet.
Thirty guests — many of them dressed in red, the color of good luck — attended the 5 Fusion dinner, staged as a benefit for the KIDS Center.
In 2011, the 5 Fusion Collaborative Charity Dinner Series raised more than $30,000 for 14 local charities. This New Year feast was a great way to begin 2012 with a goal of doing even more for the Central Oregon community.