Follow Me Foodie to the Chinese New Year Kick Off & Chinese New Year Menus!
Gong Hay Fat Choy! Sun Lien Fai Lok! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xin Nian Kuai Le!
Nom nom nom! Ah yes, those are phonetics everyone might understand! Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the year of the dragon! “Puff the Magic Dragon lives by the sea…”, I bet you’ll be singing that all day now. Anyways, it’s the year of the dragon, one of the few animals Chinese people don’t eat… and why? Because they’re mythical creatures that only exist in forms of tattoos on Asian gang members… and in Mulan. Anyways, if you missed my Foodie Friday segment on NEWS 1130AM radio this morning (11am every other Friday) here’s a quick recap.
If you don’t have reservations for your Chinese New Year dinner or more importantly Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner, you’re likely not going to get any of the “Best Chinese Restaurants” the city has to offer. But no worries! There are lots of other options! Being in Vancouver, even plan B or C isn’t that bad for Chinese food. We’re lucky to live in a place where excellent Chinese food isn’t hard to find.
There are endless options in the city for Chinese food and various ways to participate in the celebration of the New Year. If you want to do it the traditional way, then a traditional Chinese restaurant with a traditional Chinese menu, and a group of 10 people is the way to do it. However we’re in Vancouver and traditions don’t have to be followed, it’s more about the spirit and always about the food, so grab your chopsticks and toothpicks and Follow Me Foodie to various Chinese New Year Menus in Metro Vancouver, BC!
This is a very small dent in the Chinese restaurant scene and there and many more options than this, so please use this as a rough guide. Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions or need further suggestions.
Follow Me Foodie to Chinese New Year Menus!
“I’m a foodie of tradition and I’ll eat all 10-12 courses myself if I have to! Bring on the real deal!”
Dried Oyster with Fat Choy from Fisherman’s Terrace at Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, BC
You said it! Almost all the formal Chinese restaurants will have a set menu for Chinese New Year. It should include Chinese mushrooms, fish, chicken, noodles, and abalone if you go for the higher end menu. There are different menus and prices usually set for 10 and you can expect to spend anywhere from $280-$800 for a table of 10 at a nicer Chinese restaurant. Each restaurant should have at least 4 different set menus for you to choose from.
Dried Oyster with Fat Choy is a very traditional dish for Chinese New Year and there is a lot of symbolism behind it. You can listen to my explanation of it here on air with CBC Radio last year.
Here are some sample menus of traditional Chinese New Year dinners I’ve had: Fisherman’s Terrace, Shun Feng Seafood Restaurant, Kirin Seafood Restaurant and The Jade Seafood Restaurant.
“I want to do something traditional, but less formal and I can’t get a reservation for dinner.”
Make it a dim sum! It still may require a reservation, but your chances are higher for dim sum than dinner. A few dishes traditional to Chinese New Year are the Pan Fried Radish/Turnip Cakes and the Pan Fried Taro Cakes. They are both savoury cakes and the Radish/Turnip Cakes (different names, same thing) are definitely available all year. There’s also a traditional sweet brown sugar rice cake called “Nian Gao” and these cakes symbolize a sweet year and growth… growth in prosperity, success, and height… although the last is wishful thinking. Just kidding, but cake or pudding in Chinese is “Gao” which means height or raising higher.
You can also buy premade ones and pan fry them at home yourself. Almost all the of dim sum restaurants will sell ready to fry ones during this time. It’s tradition to buy them and give them away to people as gifts during the New Year. Saint Germain Bakery sells nicely packaged ones (see here), so if you really want to impress someone… *ahem* bring one for their mother.
Dim sum options: Richmond options: Red Star Seafood, J&C Top Gun Restaurant, Rainflower Restaurant, The Jade Seafood Restaurant, Empire Chinese Cuisine, VivaCity Seafood, Kalok Seafood Restaurant, Sea Harbour, Kirin Seafood Restaurant, Good Eat Seafood Restaurant etc. Vancouver options: Kirin Seafood Restaurant, Red Star Seafood, Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, Golden Ocean Seafood etc., and Burnaby option: Grand Dynasty Seafood Restaurant. There are honestly so many options and if you’re not familiar with your dim sum, then get cracking! Not knowing what or how to order is no excuse when I have pictures to help 🙂
“I prefer a modern take on Chinese food and don’t have 10 friends/family I like.”
Try Wild Rice. It’s a modern fusion take on traditional Chinese cuisine and they have a special Year of The Dragon Prix Fixe Menu designed for 2 from January 22 – February 4, 2012. (I hope you have at least one person you like). The menu includes Water Dragon Platter for Two, Dungeness Crab Salad, Steamed Ling Cod, Albacore Tuna Tartare and a dessert Plate of Food Wishes. $38.88 for two people.
Wild Rice Vancouver: 117 W. Pender Street at Abbott on the edge of old Chinatown, 604-642-2882
Wild Rice New Westminster: 122-810 Quayside Drive in the River Market, 778-397-0028
“I’m a tea connoisseur, and I’ve done the dim sum, but I want something new and modern.”
This is the shrine for tea lovers. Their tea library and quality of luxury teas are incredible. From January 16th – January 31st, 2012, The Urban Tea Merchant is introducing their “Year of the Dragon” Signature Afternoon Tea Service. The menu includes Tiger Hill Tea-infused egg salad sandwich, traditional wrapped Peking duck & plum sauce, chocolate dipped dragon fruit, dragon eye fruit, Matcha tea-infused fortune cookie and many more savoury and sweet bites. $48 per person. Full menu here.
The Urban Tea Merchant Downtown Vancouver: 1070 West Georgia St. Vancouver, 604-692-0071
The Urban Tea Merchant The Village at Park Royal: G3 – 825 Main St. West Vancouver, 604-926-3392
Now heads up! Xi Shi Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel nearby is also hosting a Special Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea Monday, January 23rd through Sunday, January 29th from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm. $34 per person. See my post here.
“I prefer the hotel version of Chinese New Year.”
Photo Credit Pan Pacific Vancouver
So you’re a little less adventurous and maybe not a fan of the traditional stuff? Or your dining with some “white bread and butters”? Or you need something for the kids? (I personally believe kids should be introduced to unfamiliar food at a young age though). Well whatever the reasons are you’ll get a good mix of everything (including non-Chinese items) at the Cafe Pacfica Restaurant.
This Sunday January 22, Cafe Pacfica Restaurant at Pan Pacific Vancouver is hosting their annual Chinese New Years Day Brunch Buffet which includes a fancy buffet featuring: Chinese Charcuterie, Dim Sum, Lemon Chicken, Wok Station, Sushi Station, Omelette Station, Carving Station and many more things. The dessert buffet offers Chocolate Dipped Fortune Cookies, Sweat Bean Sesame Balls, Egg Tarts, Sago & Lotus seed pudding, Chocolate Mousse and Creme Brulee. See the full menu here.
The buffet also includes a live piano performance and a great view – see here for prices and more details.
Pan Pacific Vancouver: 300-999 Canada Place, Vancouver, 604.891.2555
“Just take me to a Chinese New Year fair and let me sample random Chinese goodies!”
Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, BC is hosting their annual Chinese New Year flower and gift fair January 19-29 (see hours here). There will also be a live countdown on January 22 at 10:30pm – 12:10am in the Central Atrium of the mall. Parking will make you want to pull each strand of hair out one by one and you may discover a heightened sense of road rage, so I highly recommend taking the Canada Line… thank me later.
Make sure you check out the Dragon’s Beard Candy stand. It’s Chinese style cotton candy stuffed with sugared ground peanuts and it will be extra popular this year since it’s the Year of the Dragon. It’s a special dessert that’s labour intensive to make and the “cotton candy” is hand pulled.
Aberdeen Centre: Suite 130, 4400 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, 604.270.1234
ooo are you going to be at aberdeen center again this year? i remember you doing a segment last year around chinese new year 🙂
gong hay fat choy mijune! may this year bring you more success, prosperity and happiness! thank you for making each day a little brighter with your thoughtful and enjoyable posts 🙂
Hi Mijune – wonder if you’ve ever attended Todd Wong’s Gung Haggis Fat Choy ? His event is this Sunday at Floata as usual.
I love the sound of Gung Haggis Fat Choy! Think I will incorporate that into my Robbie Burns Party on Saturday…… anyway, in the ’70s, I was told (by Paul of Paul’s Deep Sea Shantung, best Chinese Restaurant in Toronto then) that Duck 7 ways was the only good New Year tradition.
Hm, Haggis with Oyster Sauce…