Chinese New Year banquet dish at Silks, Crown. 8 February 2013.
Sunday Age. Photo:EDDIE JIM.
At Silks, $888 gets you: quail sunchoi bao; superior shark's fin soup in comb form; braised supreme Japanese abalone; braised supreme sea cucumber with fresh leek; steamed whole coral trout with soy sauce, spring onion and coriander; sauteed diced wagyu beef with goose paste; seasonal vegetable and conpoy; braised lobster with XO sauce and; almond flavoured bird's nest soup. Photo: Eddie Jim

John Elder

LAST year, 10 patrons enjoyed the top-drawer $888-a-head banquet at Silks restaurant in Crown to celebrate Chinese New Year.

One group was a very traditional Chinese family; the other a businessman entertaining colleagues, and presumably hoping for a big dose of luck and prosperity.

The Chinese New Year banquet is apparently an investment in one's future.

The bigger the spend, the greater the blessing.

So far 80 people have booked for Silks' $388 per head banquet - braised pork knuckles with sea moss, anybody? - but it's unclear how many have gone for the golden table.

''Not sure how many,'' said restaurant manager Tracey Mo.

All the banquets have a couple of eights in their pricing, because eight is a lucky number said to bring prosperity and balance.

The $888 menu is therefore very lucky indeed. Sous chef Kwai Tong, via a translator and email, said that in China, ''people like to present their most expensive treasure for their guests''.

''The $888 menu will show that the host has a happy, peaceful life, with longevity in the new year, and they want to share the important time and season's greeting with their friends and family.''

He said that each of the nine courses had particular blessings and rewards.

The superior shark fin soup in comb form, for instance, ''means you will have very happy and important things happen to you in the new year''. For example: getting married or having children or grandchildren.

The braised supreme sea cucumber with fresh leek comes with connotations of being forever wealthy.

Ms Mo explained that foods such as Japanese abalone and sea cucumber were hard to find and therefore expensive.

''In the Qing Dynasty, only the king or queen would eat these foods,'' she said.

''The sea cucumber is only found at a mountain lake near the northern Chinese sea.''

The banquet takes place over six hours.

At 9pm on Sunday, Crown will stage a New Year's fireworks display - to wake up the sleeping dragon believed to bring the rain during summer in order for the crops to grow.

The fireworks will be visible from Silks, at no extra charge.