This month, we’re celebrating #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary. And another one of those reasons is Chinese New Year 2016! It happens Monday, February 8th, marking the Year of the Monkey. Also known as the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year is typically celebrated over a family dinner for a reunion of sorts. Whether you’re dining with your family or your friends, restaurants are ready to help you celebrate with delicious feasts that center around traditional dishes as well as delicacies. Markus Tschuschnig, general manager at La Chine in Manhattan, notes, “The New Year is one of the most important holidays in China, and when people go out to celebrate, they favor luxury dishes. At La Chine, we’re serving abalone from China, for example, along with sea cucumber.” People might not order these dishes year round, but they will to celebrate the New Year.” Here are a few of our favorites.
La Chine, New York, New York
La Chine restaurant, located in the storied Waldorf-Astoria hotel, serves Chinese haute cuisine that has been receiving rave reviews since opening its doors in the fall of 2015. Taking things to the next level, chef Kong Khai Meng is introducing a special Chinese New Year menu. Available February 8-13, it will include special provincial-style fare, such as “Lo Hei” Yusheng Raw Fish Salad, a traditional dish that symbolizes prosperity and good fortune (Did you know that the higher you toss this salad the more prosperity you will have? It will be tossed tableside at La Chine, but, according to Tschuschnig, not so high that guests should fear wearing the salad rather than eating it.), BBQ Buddhist Duck, Beijing-style Dong Bo Pork Belly, Sesame Rice Dumplings, and the luxe Traditional Braised Abalone with White Truffle Drops. After each meal, based on the tradition of hongbao, diners will receive a lucky red envelope. There’s not money inside, but there is a chance to win a prize, such as dinner for 2, Champagne, or dessert. Make a reservation for Chinese New Year 2016 at La Chine.
WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, Los Angeles, California
The Chinese New Year celebration at WP24 kicks off on February 9 with Wolfgang Puck’s first Traveling Night Market. The evening begins with a traditional lion’s dance at 6:30pm and continues with the Night Market featuring live-action stations preparing Chinese delicacies such as Alaskan King Crab Lo Mai and a Whole Roasted Peking Duckling and concludes with a sumptuous three-course dinner prepared by chef John Lechleidner, including 5 Spice Marinated Colorado Lamb Chops and Szechuan Peppercorn Crusted American Wagyu Rib Eye with oxtail Shanghai noodles. A special six- or eight-course Chinese New Year tasting menu will also be available February 10-19. Incorporating elements of heat throughout, the menus feature flavorful dishes such as a Red Chili Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank and “Szechuan Style” American Wagyu Rib Eye. WP24 continues its tradition of finishing the Chinese New Year meal with its classic Wishing Tree adorned with red envelopes. Guests may select an envelope which holds a proverb, message, or special gift, such as a complimentary spa treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa or a cocktail. Make a reservation for Chinese New Year at WP24 by Wolfgang Puck.
Hinoki & The Bird, Los Angeles, California
Executive chef Brandon Kida has created a unique spin on the Chinese dessert that is the mooncake at LA eatery Hinoki & The Bird, which serves cuisine inspired by travels along the Silk Road. His Adzuki Bean Cheesecake is served with honey mocha, coconut anglaise, and coconut crisp, and it will be on the menu the week of February 8. Typically consumed during the Mid-Autumn festival, mooncakes are also popular for Chinese New Year and year round. They were once believed to give the eater special powers, and we can guarantee you’ll feel special after feasting on Kida’s twist on this classic. Make a reservation at Hinoki & The Bird for Chinese New Year 2016.
TAO Downtown, New York, New York
At sexy Meatpacking District hot spot TAO Downtown, chef Ralph Scamardella is offering a special menu in honor of the Year of the Monkey in the spacious setting that can hold hundreds of fashionable diners. Tuck into the restaurant’s festive menu that includes savory Shanghai Vegetable Dumplings, Shanghai Fried Rice, Crispy Snapper, in Sand, Tuna Sashimi with Parmesan, and the sweet treat you won’t want to share – the Giant Fortune Cookie. Make a reservation for Chinese New Year 2016 at TAO Downtown.
E.P. + L.P., West Hollywood, California
Chef Louis Tikaram is kicking off the Lunar New Year at his modern Asian eating house and rooftop in WeHo by serving Check Yo Neck-Roll Your Own, a wood-grilled lamb neck with lettuce, herbs, and chili jam. Inspired by his Fijian-Chinese heritage, the dish highlights lamb as it is associated with auspiciousness – a good characteristic for a dish welcoming the start of a new year. If you can’t make it to E.P. + L.P. this month, fret not. It will be on the restaurant’s menu throughout the spring. Make a reservation for Chinese New Year at E.P. + L.P.
Sambar, Culver City, California
Chef-owner Akasha Richmond is launching a Chindian Sunday Supper Series and is kicking it off with a special Chinese New Year menu on February 7th. Indian-Chinese fare known as Chindian was developed by the Hakka Chinese community that has lived in Kolkata, India, for more than a century. The evolution of this popular hybrid cuisine has found its way into the culinary subculture of India and been described as Chinese soul food in a nod to the comforting way the hyper-regional style of cooking blends the flavors and techniques of Chinese and Indian food. The Chinese New Year menu is available through February 11 and includes Vindaloo Roasted Pork Buns, Tibetan Pork and Cabbage Dumplings, and Turmeric Roasted Whole Trout, to name a few. Make a reservation for Chinese New Year at Sambar.
Are you celebrating Chinese New Year 2016 and the Year of the Monkey? Is it one of your #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary? Tell us what dishes you’re most looking forward to sampling here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter.
Photo credit: Carlos Larios (TAO Downtown).