We’re happy that Chinese New Year is this Friday 16 February- for two reasons: the holiday is only a few days away and we don’t have to go to work the day after….
Here’s why we’re so doggone excited to go celebrate The Year of the Dog.
London’s Line-Up for Chinese New Year
What you might notice out on the town…
Red – the main celebratory colour and symbol of good luck. Look out especially for decorations in quantities of eight as it’s a lucky number in Chinese folklore.
Firecrackers – which are said to scare bad spirits away.
Red and gold envelopes – Lai See have money inside: for prosperity, good luck, and to give as gifts to young children.
What you might notice on the menus…
Noodles – for happiness and longevity
Dumplings and spring rolls – for wealth
Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) – family unity
Niangao (glutinous rice cake) – higher income or status
Tangerines and oranges – fullness and wealth
Fish – prosperity
Chinese culture regards the dog as a symbol of nobility and loyalty. The Earth Dog particularly evokes fairness, morality and honour. For many, brotherhood, sisterhood and solidarity will define the upcoming year, one in which spiritual wealth triumphs material wealth.
You might not have known that coinciding with Chinese New Year is Baijui Cocktail Week–dedicated to celebrating the earthy and fiery notes (with a hint of baked bamboo) of China’s low-profile, national drink. Since it’s rise to fame at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, Baijui continues make a name for itself at these London Bars, which will hook you up with the fermented grain spirit of the moment to properly ring in the new year.
Probable locations at which you’ll find us slurping noodles…
Bang Bang Oriental Foodhall
Free entry to London’s largest Asian food hall on 16 February will allow guests to experience a traditional lion dance, followed by a Wing Chun performance. The entertainment will include a Chinese face changing performance (Biàn Liǎn), which is an ancient Chinese dramatic art originating in the 1700s. A Chinese music performance of traditional instruments including Lute, Erhu and Dulcimer will close the programme. The Chinese New Year Market at Bang Bang Oriental will remain open until 18 February, offering memorabilia from lucky charms to handmade jewellery. The venue is open Monday to Thursday from 11.30am until 9.30pm, Friday to Saturday from 11am until 10pm and Sunday from 11am until 9pm. Visit Bang Bang Oriental for details.
Located on Sloane Street in Millennium Hotel London Knightsbridge, Le Chinois will be serving a celebratory menu for the new year from 15-28 February. Head Chef, Anthony Kong, has created a menu of authentic Chinese dishes, including sizzling golden tofu with straw mushrooms; Yong chow fried rice served with barbecued pork, shrimps and vegetables; and fresh steamed lobster with Chinese rice wine and eggs whites. £58 per person, for a minimum of 2 people, visit Le Chinois for details.
A visit to Hunan ought to be on the bucket list for any foodie, and Chinese New Year is the perfect occasion to find out why. This under-the-radar, Belgravia restaurant has a ‘no menu policy’ and requests diners to let the restaurant know what they like, don’t like and if they want their food non-spicy, mild, medium or hot. The chefs do the rest. It’s both that simple, and that luxurious. The portions are small and varied with emphasis on trying lots of different things. A typical menu will consist of 12-18 courses, tailored towards guests’ likes. Steamed bamboo cup soup, double cooked crispy lamb, clams with sweet basil and Chinese New Year sticky rice cake with candied melon are some favourites on the menu. Established in 1982, Hunan is the only Chinese restaurant in London to specialise in this style of cooking. Dinner is £67.80 per person, visit Hunan for details.
Lucky & Joy
‘New Year, New Yuzu’ – in collaboration with Smirnoff and Gordon’s Dry Gin, Lucky & Joy’s Chinese food pop-up will feature cocktails inspired by the floral zest of the exotic yuzu fruit. The Yuzu Smirnoff Collins and the Gordon’s Ginbei will tail a multitude of feasting options at the pop up in Bethnal Green from 14-17 February. Celebration food ranges from a tick-box menu for smaller parties that features longevity noodles and sizzling fish in spicy broth, to a banquet options for larger parties that include a whole, slow cooked, red braised, suckling pig. Tickets from £25, bookable at Design My Night.
This staple, London Chinese makes for a classy New Year celebration. Wishes for the New Year, written on red ribbons, are fastened all around Hakkasan’s atmospheric and maze-like Hanway Place location. The Year of the Dog menu is a selection of dishes made for the occasion by Hakkasan chefs worldwide, from the restaurants’ locations in cities such as Dubai, New York and Las Vegas. The menu includes Szechuan oyster with lotus root with crispy rice in mantau; Abalone fried rice in bean curd wrap with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushroom; Baked Chilean sea bass with kumquat glaze; and Wok-fry native lobster in superior stock with edamame and caviar. £88 per person, visit Hakkasan for details.
Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard
This Chinese New Year menu boasts a partnership with international Emmy-nominated TV Chef and food author, Ching He Huang. The innovative Chinese dishes created by Ching and the hotel’s Executive Sous Chef, Daniel McGarey, will be available in TĪNG Lounge on level 35 of the hotel for one month beginning 16th February. Fresh, organic and ethically sourced ingredients are used to make contemporary and entertaining food that appeals to both the East and the West. The á la carte menu includes a Cup of Prosperity – Three-cup Chicken with Pineapple ‘Shard’; A Handful of Laughter and Happiness – Spicy Honey Garlic Prawns; and a Bowl of Longevity – Zhajiang Noodles. Visit Ting Shangri La for details.
Chi Kitchen, the contemporary pan-Asian restaurant on Oxford Street will host a lunch to honour the Year of the Dog on 18 February, from 12pm to 2.30pm. The three-course, set menu features authentic Chinese dishes created by Executive Chef Ping Coombe, who will be giving out lucky red envelopes at the celebration. Diners can start with Lo Sang with Salmon – a traditional Chinese sesame salad with fresh salmon, served with a plum sauce. Sharing style main dishes include steamed monkfish with a chilli and garlic sauce and a vegetarian dish of stir-fried broccoli with shittake mushrooms and tofu. £35 for two, visit EventBrite for more information and to book tickets.
This year Hutong will be celebrate with dishes inspired by regional cooking styles and delicacies from across China. Head Chef Fei Wang has combined a series of traditional dishes with those eaten traditionally on Chinese New Year for a special menu running until 25 February. The Hutong bar team will also be joining the celebration with a special New Year’s cocktail until 16 February. Taking inspiration from the year of the dog, the cocktail is named after Panhu, a dragon-dog figure in Chinese mythology, and is made with Bulldog gin, pomelo cordial, crème de mure, lemon juice, fresh raspberries and egg white. Visit Hutong for details.
Doughnut Time and Gelupo Gelato
For those who’d rather scoop up their share of Chinese New Year food fare on the go, might we propose a festive doughnut from Doughnut Time or Gelato from Gelupo? The Asian-inspired gelato menu includes the flavors red bean paste (China), matcha (Japan), black sesame (Japan) mango sticky rice (Thailand), as well as a Durian flavour created by Malaysian celebrity Chef Wan. The hand-dipped doughnut situation is a red cream glaze of a doughnut, topped with lucky gold leaf pieces, black sugar peers, a gold chocolate coin and fortune cookie. One fortune cookie contains a golden ticket for a free 6-pack of doughnuts every week for a year…a good omen for the new year indeed.
For information on London’s Chinese New Year Carnival that kicks off on 16 February, at 10am, Charing Cross Road, visit China Town. Markets, displays, performances and learning activities make this celebration of the New Year the biggest one outside of China!
But don’t forget to celebrate Valentine’s Day first! Valentine’s Day for Lovers of the Arts