CHELSEA — The best part of Chinese New Year is the food.
The chefs at Modern Asian Mecca Buddakan plan to ring in the Year of the Snake with a special $55 prix-fixe menu of traditional foods with a cosmopolitan twist, including— a king crab-filled soup dumpling, tossed noodles with sea urchin butter, and a seafood hot pot with clams, lobster, and green curry.
Co-executive chef Brian Ray —said the soup dumplings made with a mix of fatty pork, king crab, and XO soup — are a tribute to the classic Chinese New Year treats, often made by families and shaped as ancient Chinese Money to symbolize wealth and prosperity.
"It's supposed to give you wealth in the future. It's the new year, you want to start out on the right foot." Ray said.
"In my book, king crab is starting out on the right foot."
The dumplings start off with a crab and pork broth with XO sauce, which is dissolved in gelatin and chilled into cubes. The rest of the filling — pork, king crab, and veggies — is mixed by hand and brought to the restaurant's dim sum prep area, where staff typically make up to 1600 dumplings a day.
After steaming for a few minutes, the dumpling come out hot and fresh and are served up with a Chinese spoon. That's for a very specific reason — the soup-filled dumplings literally explode with flavor.
"It's a booby trap, because it is filled with a hot liquid," Ray said.
Ray has a very specific way of eating the dumplings to minimize squirting soup by making a hole in the dumpling with chopsticks, so it spills out onto the spoon.
"It's almost like a mini two-course meal," he said.
"First you have your soup and then you have the dumpling."