Where to Eat Around the U.S. for Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year celebrations are about a lot of things: renewal, remembrance, wishes for peace and prosperity. But this holiday (like most) is also about food — and all the things that food can mean.
According to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, the new year begins February 16. The following weeks are filled with cooking and eating, each dish with its own traditional time, context, and symbolism. In the different celebrations in China — and across Asia — foods from citrus to dumplings to vegetable fritters contain a wish for the year to come.
There are restaurants around the U.S. dishing out specials and set menus for the holiday, and options draw on the New Year's dishes of cuisines all around East Asia. Here's where to celebrate.
New York City
David Laris’ much-anticipated stateside restaurant, recently opened in Shanghai-based Cachet Hotels’ new NYC property, is serving a set holiday menu inspired by the Australian chef’s decades spent training in kitchens across Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, and beyond. Drawing on the seasonal, market-driven approach Laris is known for, the Lunar New Year lineup includes refined dishes like oxtail-truffle xiao long bao with Asian pear and steamed Sea Bass fish balls in a delicate broth. Through February.
E.P. & L.P.
Louis Tikaram is a Fijian-Chinese-Australian chef cooking Aussie-style Asian-American food in West Hollywood — and you’re going to want to try it. At E.P. & L.P. (his WeHo restaurant and sister rooftoop bar, respectively) he’s highlighting Chinese New Year menu items like duck salad with rau ram, steamed New Zealand blue cod, and his famous dandan noodles with spicy pork neck. Through February.
Come February 16, it will officially be the Year of the Dog — and at this glassy, design-forward restaurant in Cambridge’s Kendall Square neighborhood, they’re taking that somewhat literally. For the holiday, you can supplement the seafood-focused menu they’re known for (think updated New England favorites like mussels and lobster rolls, plus oysters and littlenecks at the raw bar) with a Firecracker Dog, a cheeky year-of-the-dog sausage special topped with pickled bok choy, Chinese hot mustard sauce, and crispy fried lobster legs. February 16.
New York City
Mark your calendars: this Sunday, this cozy Japanese comfort food spot is throwing a one-night-only Nabe Party to celebrate the New Year. On the 18th, they’ll be hosting a family-style three course hot pot dinner, featuring a special seafood yosenabe with king crab, shrimp, and scallops in a spicy miso broth — and the masked sake sommeliers at Sakeman will be dropping by to pour some hot Shiragiku Nigori for the occasion. Those who can’t make it to the party can enjoy the yosenabe and sake as a set menu on Friday or Saturday. February 16-18.
Vegas has quickly gained a reputation as a premier restaurant scene for celebrating the Lunar New Year — and this experimental Chinese-Mexican restaurant by star chef José Andrés throws one of the best parties in town. The colorful dining room inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas will be serving a tasting menu and a la carte specials featuring traditional jiaozi, chicken in black bean sauce, and a special coconut tapioca dessert with lychee caviar. February 16 – March 2.
New York City
Offered all month to celebrate the New Year, Hakkasan's proprietary macartune (a macaron-fortune-cookie mashup) contains witty New York City-centric fortunes written by quintessential Manhattan novelist Jay McInerney. The restaurant is also serving a special Chinese New Year menu, which features pairings like wok-fried local lobster with a spiced mandarin and gin Happy Daisy cocktail. Through February. —Emily Cappiello
Hong Kong Café
Popping up for Lunar New Year at this modern Chinese restaurant at the Venetian Las Vegas: a limited run menu of holiday drinking snacks (crab wontons, spicy pickled cucumber) and a specialty pop up bar. Look out for cocktail specials like the Year of the Dog, with scotch, pineapple juice, and a pinch of Chinese five spice—mixed up for the occasion by Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at the hotel’s craft cocktail spot The Dorsey. Through February.
The Chicago outpost of Asia’s oldest hotel brand will be joining with its sister properties from Beijing to Bangkok, ringing in the New Year with festive touches (like the ubiquitous hongbao red envelopes, presented to every guest upon arrival). To round out the celebration, The Lobby’s celebrated high tea will transform into traditional Chinese tea service; expect playful takes on their usual tea sandwiches, like five-spice salmon and squid ink tarts, and a wide selection of Chinese and Taiwanese tea blends. Through February.
Kings Co Imperial
This beloved Brooklyn joint serves seasonal Chinese-American dishes with produce (like goji berries, traditional herbs, and several varieties of eggplant) grown in restaurant’s three garden beds. For Lunar New Year, Chef Josh Grinker — who’s trained in Chinese kitchens in the U.S. and abroad — is serving up specials like shumai topped with Russ & Daughters fish roe and a beef version of Buddha’s Delight, traditionally served on the first day of the new year. February 16-19.
A chic Chicago favorite for dim sum and hand-pulled noodles is offering a traditional Lunar New Year feast this week. Among the bounty of dishes on offer is the customary yee sang, a colorful salad of raw fish and ribbons of vegetables (the common nickname, “Prosperity Toss," describes how diners toss the salad communally and make New Year wishes around the table while digging in). Guests also receive a red envelope for their New Year celebration — but instead of money, their prize could be anything from a gift certificate to a round of xiao long bao on the house. February 14–18.
Rice & Gold
New York City
Star chef Dale Talde’s latest New York opening, an eclectic Asian-American restaurant in Chinatown’s luxe Hotel 50 Bowery, is serving a set Chinese New Year menu this Friday and Saturday; highlights include a delicate citrus salad with chrysanthemum, green tea mochi with sesame and persimmon, and a limited run thyme-grapefruit-infused white wine cocktail. Stop by for Friday lunch to catch the Lion Dance parading through the dining space. February 16 – 17.
Chef Joachim Splichal’s Michelin-starred restaurant — a Los Angeles icon since 1989 — departs from its the contemporary French flavors that made it famous with a distinctly Japanese-inflected Lunar New Year menu, where dishes like delicate Hokkaido scallop and geoduck sashimi and wagyu beef grilled over binchō-tan white charcoal meet more classic Patina offerings, like a caviar-laden lobster pasta. February 16 – March 2.
Sweet Auburn Barbecue
Howard and Anita Hsu, the sibling duo behind this award-winning Atlanta BBQ spot, draw on their Malaysian-Chinese heritage for a Lunar New Year pop-up party next week. In addition to cultural performances, like Lion Dance troupe from Atlanta’s Chien Hong School of Kung Fu, they’ll be slinging Chinese food with a Georgia twist: coconut-lemongrass ribs, fried rice with sweet vidalia onions, buttermilk-fried General Tso’s chicken, and more mashup goodies. February 20.
Santa Ana, CA
Celebrate the Lunar New Year at Santa Ana’s Bowers Museum, home to one of the premier art collections in Orange County and colorful Pacific Rim-focused restaurant Tangata. Visitors can catch a prix fixe holiday lunch — with fixings like charred pork chop suey — before taking in one of the museum’s many exhibitions of global art, like a spotlight on China’s Empress Dowager Cixi produced in collaboration with the Summer Palace Museum in Beijing. February 15-21.
New York City
Hannah and Marian Cheng, the sister-sister duo behind Mimi Cheng’s dumplings in Manhattan, are cooking up a childhood favorite this month to celebrate the New Year. Growing up, they loved the sweet chili oil wontons that their mom — the eponymous Mimi — limited for special occasions. This extra-spicy chicken and celery version, available only in February at their Nolita and East Village locations, is a lighter but equally delicious take on the nostalgic Taiwanese treat. Through February.
This instant classic property on Wilshire Boulevard will be serving an afternoon Lunar New Year Tea in the Art Deco lobby lounge. Canapés from Executive Chef Steve Benjamin — like Chinese egg tarts and duck confit dumplings — will be paired with brews and infusions from Tealeaves, the artisanal tea blender of choice for the world’s premier tea houses and restaurants. Guests can also add on an optional champagne pairing, or indulge in the hotel’s Lunar New Year package featuring luxury tea turndown service. Through February.
This Tysons Corner restaurant — the second incarnation of a beloved Lafayette Square eatery that shuttered back in 2011 — is celebrating Lunar New Year with a four course large format menu. Nodding to the major symbolic value of food for this holiday, the culinary team highlight traditional shared dishes like pork and vegetable dumplings and a wok-steamed whole fish with fragrant herbs, traditionally associated with abundance. February 14 – 18.