Guests stared at the decorative fish known as koi atop white plates at a corner table as they entered the Pearl Restaurant at the five-star JW Marriott in Jakarta.
Only after they approached did they realize the fish were not real aquatic creatures. They are fish-shaped cakes, seasonal treats to enjoy during the Chinese New Year festivities which fall on Jan. 26.
"JW Marriott Jakarta arranges some events to celebrate Chinese New Year. We serve nian gao (rice cakes), among others, to our valued guests," said Ina Ilmiaviatta, the hotel's marketing and communications manager.
In Chinese, nian gao doesn't only mean rice cake or Chinese New Year's cake. It also means every year better and better. The cake carries spiritual significance.
"Nian gao is only available on the Chinese New Year festival. This year, we will be offering a variety of flavors to our guests," said restaurant manager Sherry Yang.
The restaurant has rice cakes on offer from Jan. 2 through Feb. 8. Guests can also purchase them from a counter in the hotel lobby. People can choose between the traditional brown cakes and the modified white ones.
Made of sticky rice and sugar, guests usually enjoy the cake before eating the main part of the meal.
While eating nian gao, people usually say what they will wish for in the coming year, the year of the Ox.
To give a more spiritual sense, the restaurant offers rice cakes shaped like koi, a fish that symbolizes prosperity and good luck. To prepare the beautiful yet edible fish, sous-chef Karsono with his team picked the best ingredients.
JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta
Jl. Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav. E, I.2
Phone: 021 5798 8992