To mark Chinese New Year, Fortune Palace is putting on a range of dishes that promise prosperity to diners. Editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Lucas Veuve sample the menu.

“All of the food is selected for good luck,” says executive Chinese chef Voon Kok Thian referring to the dishes he has carefully chosen for patrons to tuck into during Chinese New Year. “It’s all part of fengt shui.”

He points towards a dish of braised sea cucumber chi sum with goose webs, noting that the Chinese word for the leathery marine animal translates as happy. “We have to eat it for New Year,” he says, adding that pork is seen as another lucky food.

Curated by chef Voon, from Jan. 23 to Feb. 11, the restaurant will feature two set menus taking in a 10-course feast ($368 for a table of 10) that represents good fortune and happiness. Dishes include seafood soup with crabmeat and tobiko, deep-fried golden pigeon and stir fried seafood with duck yolk.

The a la carte menu will also be served, with chef Voon selecting some Chinese New Year highlights to enjoy from the truly authentic meals on offer.

The steamed homemade bean curd with wild mushroom sauce is made using soya bean milk and presented in the shape of a fish – another symbol of good luck. With a smooth consistency, the bean curd is balanced perfectly by the woody tones of the mushroom sauce.

Braised pork leg with Chinese mushrooms and sea moss – which represents good fortune – is another New Year special. Unlike the Western way of roasting, here the meaty leg is steamed for two hours, leaving the meat soft and tender so it falls apart on the fork as it should. The marinade adds a subtle sweet taste to the meat.

A personal favourite was the fried chicken in Mongolian sauce. Despite Voon saying he has toned down the fire by 50 percent, the combination of peanuts, chilli, onion, garlic and lemongrass in the sauce packed a punch perfect for my palate. The whole chicken is steamed for 35 minutes before being hung and splashed in oil. “We don’t want to deep fry it because that will leave the meat oily,” he says, adding the technique creates the perfect crispy skin. The chicken is then chopped up and served with the spicy sauce.

No Chinese New Year is complete without dumplings. The minced chicken and abalone dumplings come topped with salmon roe, while the steamed tiger garoupa dumplings are served alongside a filleted deep-fried fish. Both dishes are excellent.

For dessert Voon serves a sweetened red bean soup and Chinese New Year cake with coconut. Made from rice flour, the red cake – similar to jelly in texture but firmer – is coated in coconut shavings and is a must to polish off the meal.

“This is very good luck,” says Chef Voon. “It brings more of everything in the new year.”

NagaWorld’s Chopstick restaurant is celebrating Chinese New Year with a special barbecue lamb cutlet dish and Amret restaurant with braised pork belly and egg with shitake mushrooms.

NagaWorld, Samdech Techo Hun Sen Park, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 023 228 822.
Open daily from 11am to 10.30pm.