LONDON, Nov 25 — The Year of the Rooster will be celebrated by Chinese communities around the world from January 27 — and it’s not all about noisy spectacles with firecrackers and lion-dancing.
It’s an opportunity for feasting with family and friends. Food is central to Chinese culture and the holiday is a time for sharing traditional delicacies representing good fortune. But where to go? Here are some great restaurants to welcome the new year.
Lai Wah, Singapore
Lai Wah is reputed to be the home of yu sheng, a Chinese New Year dish across South-east Asia, of raw fish and vegetables that are tossed in the air by diners as they recite sayings to bring good fortune.
First served at Lai Wah in 1964, the dish is auspicious, as the word fish sounds like abundance in Chinese. Go for the heritage, not the dated decor. 44 Bendemeer Road, #01-1436, Singapore 330044. +65 6294 9922
Blue Lotus, Singapore
For a more refined yu sheng experience, complete with tea-smoked Norwegian salmon, head to Blue Lotus, whose tables sit under a canopy of colourful lanterns overlooking the marina.
The restaurant is at the forefront of modernising traditional Chinese cuisine, and three new year set menus on offer represent harmony, prosperity and longevity. 31 Ocean Way, #01-13 Quayside Isle, Quayside Isle, Singapore 098375. +65 6339 0880
Fu 1088, Shanghai
For a less traditional new year setting and a touch of privacy, this beautiful Spanish-style 1920s townhouse features 16 rooms, each housing just one table, where you’ll be served modern versions of classic Shanghai dishes.
There’s no website, and reserving your spot in advance is highly recommended. 375 Zhenning Rd, Changning Qu, China, 200040. +86 21 5239 7878
Lung King Heen, Hong Kong
Welcome the Year of the Rooster at Lung King Heen, the world’s first Chinese restaurant to hold three Michelin stars. Chef Chan Yan Tak’s recommendations from his predominantly Cantonese menu include steamed lobster and scallop dumpling and baked whole abalone puff with diced chicken.
Diners overlooking Hong Kong harbor can take home a box of limited edition chrysanthemum and honey lunar new year puddings. Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance St, Central. +852 3196 8888
Spice Temple, Sydney
With a deliberate avoidance of Cantonese food, Spice Temple, as the name suggests, embraces the chili and all things hot. Its Chinese New Year menu draws inspiration from the heat of Sichuan and Hunan cuisine, while a cocktail list based on the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac and exactly 100 wines will cool things down. 10 Bligh St, Sydney, NSW 2000. + 61 2 8078 1888
Bright Courtyard Club, London
This Marylebone restaurant is a favorite with staff from the Chinese embassy and the TV chef Ching He-huang. The banquet menus are particularly popular, with dishes such as steamed sea bass. Bright Courtyard belongs to the Shanghai Life Fashion Group. 43-45 Baker Street, London, W1U 8EW. +44-20-7486-6998
A Wong, London
This low-profile restaurant in Victoria serves some of the most innovative Chinese food in the UK. Chef Andrew Wong was born in London to a Cantonese family and learned to cook in cities across China.
His lunchtime dim sum is as fine as any in London, while it is worth going back to try his 10-course Taste of China dinner menu. 70 Wilton Rd, Victoria, London, SW1V 1DE. +44-20-7828-8931
Reindeer Cafe, London
This restaurant in the Wing Yip store in suburban Cricklewood is a favourite with Chinese families. They are drawn by dishes such as roast pork belly and won ton noodles.
It’s worth the journey for the authentic flavours of Hong Kong, served in a large and busy room. Unit 3, Wing Yip Centre, 395 Edgware Road, London, NW2 6LN. +44-20-8450-3330 (no website)
New Fortune Cookie, London
This Bayswater restaurant looks like a tourist joint and, indeed, you could fill up on sweet & sour pork followed by banana fritters. But aficionados go for dishes such as steamed scallop and for the roast meats.
On a street boasting several Cantonese restaurants, this is a favourite with Chinese diners. 1 Queensway, London, W2 4QJ. +44-20-7727-7260 (no website)
La Bijouterie, Lyon, France
This small restaurant in the centre of Lyon is an unusual choice: The chefs are French and it’s not even Chinese. But the cooking is inventive and La Bijouterie is known for the fusion dim sum it serves at lunchtime.
Fans include New York chef Daniel Boulud, who likes to visit when he returns to his hometown. 16 Rue Hippolyte Flandrin, 69001 Lyon. +33-4-78-08-14-03 (no website)
Mandarin Oriental, Milan
The Hong Kong hotel group is celebrating in Milan with a range of promotions until Feb. 5. There are three special cocktails served with Asian tapas at Mandarin Bar & Bistrot.
At the Spa, therapies will be offered at a special price, with Chinese Medicine expert Peiquin Zhao on hand to help guests discover their main element and find a new balance. Via Andegari 9, 20121 Milan. +39-02-8731-8888
Fung Tu, New York
The cooking at Fung Tu is as cool as its Lower East Side Manhattan location. Chef Jonathan Wu fries duck-stuffed smoked dates as a snack and uses sumptuous crêpes rather than standard wrappers for his egg rolls stuffed with chunks of pork belly; instead of spare ribs he cooks succulent beef short ribs char siu, or Chinese barbecue style, so they’re charred and falling apart.
To celebrate Chinese New Year, there are three special menus, from a US$68 (RM301) prix fixe of favourites (including those egg rolls and ribs), plus ambitious US$88 and US$111 tastings (think fried oyster lettuce cups with black truffles). 22 Orchard Street, New York; 212-219-8785
China Blue, New York
From the owners of the excellent China Café, this elegant Shanghai restaurant evinces a sultry 1930s vibe in Tribeca.
The vast, sweetly illustrated menu has appetisers like braised tofu with king crab; a selection of the greatest hits of dim sum, like potstickers, soup buns and crystal shrimp dumplings; and, for an entree, richly flavored, fist-sized “lion’s head” pork meatballs cooked in a clay pot. 135 Watts Street, New York; 212-431-0111
Hakkasan, New York
Like the London original, Hakkasan New York is the epitome of swanky Chinese dining, with fancy touches like a roasted cod whose Chinese honey sauce is spiked with Champagne. Executive chef Tong Chee Hwee is preparing a limited-edition Year of the Rooster menu to be served at all global locations until Feb 11.
The US$128 prix fixe is designed to celebrate joy and prosperity with dishes like Fortune Tale salad, made with jellyfish and roast chicken; it’s tossed tableside, and the higher it’s tossed the more good luck will purportedly come to the guest.
There will also be wishing trees where guests can share their hopes for the coming year. 311 West 43rd Street, New York; 212-776-1818
Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco
At this upscale new restaurant with an expansive view of Chinatown and downtown San Francisco, chef Brandon Jew specialises in unconventional versions of classics. He serves a tea-smoked duck with pancakes and peanut hoisin that goes for US$110 and cheong fun, the silky roll made from long strips of rice noodles, with caviar.
There’s also a stellar wine list and cocktail selection, named for different types of luck: Wealth is composed of scotch, rye, Lapsang Souchong tea, and apple. 28 Waverly Place, San Francisco; 415-857 9688
Z&Y, San Francisco
Most of the city’s best, most authentic Chinese restaurants are in the Richmond District which can be a trek. Z&Y is more conveniently located for visitors, set in Chinatown near the Financial District. The Sichuan menu features dishes from chef Li Jun Han, who has cooked for Chinese presidents and foreign ministers.
On the menu: translucent slices of beef tendon with mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper oil in the dish couples delight; kung pao scallops; and fried chunks of chicken, nestled among a mountain of red chiles. 655 Jackson Street, San Francisco; 415-981-8988
Din Tai Fung, Glendale, California
This worldwide chain, famed for their soup dumplings (xiao long bao), started in Taiwan and now extends from Japan to Hong Kong to the US west coast.
They’ve expanded out of the San Gabriel Valley (America’s epicentre of Asian cooking) to an upscale pedestrian mall in Glendale, serving up exceedingly delicate, juicy dumplings from plain pork to pork and truffle, plus noodle dishes like Shanghai rice cakes with shrimp.
And they’re opening another outpost soon, in Century City, near the future LA Eataly. 177 Caruso Avenue, Glendale, CA; 818-551-5561
Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, Vancouver
In a city with some of the best Chinese cuisine in North America, Dynasty still stands out; the black granite and gold dining room boasts views of Vancouver’s dramatic skyline and snow-capped mountains. Here, chef Sam Leung reinterprets high-end Cantonese cuisine with of the Pacific Northwest touches, with specialties like sweet crab meat in egg white.
Leung’s 10-course New Year’s menu, from C$952 (RM3,209) per table, also features seafood. “The menu is designed to evoke prosperity,” notes Manager Victor Loo. Case in point: Sauteed scallops in crab cream and braised Australian abalone symbolise fancy gold medallions. 777 West Broadway, Vancouver; 604-876-8388. — Bloomberg