Under normal circumstances, my family would be preparing for the Year of the Ox with massive grocery hauls to host large family dinners, while booking multiple tables at restaurants for festive meals, and organizing visits to our relatives’ homes to bai leen (give our best wishes for the new year)—with gifts and offerings in tow.
None of these time-honoured traditions will take place this year, but that doesn’t mean Lunar New Year, and all the tasty foods that come with it, is cancelled. In honour of the Asian holiday, which this year takes place on February 12, many local restaurants and food businesses are offering delicious and auspicious culinary creations and menu features for diners to enjoy with their household.
From seafood platters to dessert sets to multicourse menus, here’s what to eat to ring in the Year of the Ox.
The sweet stuff is just as important as the savoury, and Chinatown’s Buttermere has dessert covered for Lunar New Year. Its mini-dessert set includes prosperous treats such as lemon dacquoise fortune orange, sesame-and-osmanthus whipped ganache puff pastry, chocolate financier pineapple lantern, and several macarons. A limited edition Year of the Ox cake is now sold out, but it featured flavours such as assam sponge, cornflake crunch, chestnut panna cotta with chestnut crumbs, and assam-tea mousse.
Pre-ordering is open now, and orders can be picked up from February 10 to 14.
Those who plan to celebrate with their immediate household for Lunar New Year should have this takeout meal on their radar. Potluck Hawker Eatery is offering an eight-course, Lunar Family Love feast for the holiday, showcasing Malaysian and Singaporean flavours. One of the featured dishes is albacore tuna and Dungeness crab yu sheng, or “prosperity toss,” which is an interactive and traditional dish that is meant to be loud and messy, but brings good luck and joy.
The takeout meal can feed four to six people, which also includes whole Hainanese chicken with truffled soy bean sauce, whole chili lobster with longevity noodles, duck confit and Chinese sausage fried rice, golden steam buns with housemade kaya, complimentary Thai milk tea, and more.
Pre-ordering is available now for takeout only from February 11 to 14.
Congee is a hearty rice porridge consumed by many Asian families, and it’s especially satisfying as a breakfast dish. Fresh Ideas Start Here (F.I.S.H.) has created a delicious seafood version in its signature halibut broth, which features a rotating selection of seafood such as B.C. octopus, wild salmon, east coast scallops, and other fresh fish. Fresh local B.C. uni (sea urchin) can also be included for an additional fee.
There are many auspicious meanings to this dish: fish in Chinese, yu, means “fortune is upon you,” and the golden hue of the uni can allude to golden nuggets, symbolizing great wealth for the new year.
F.I.S.H.’s seafood congee is available at its FISHbar daily.
This West Vancouver chocolate and pastry shop is joining the Lunar New Year festivities by offering a limited edition OX chocolate showpiece to ring in the new zodiac. Made with dark and white chocolate and gold coins at its base, the whimsical character holds up a chocolate sign that says gung hei fat choy—the Chinese greeting that translates to “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.”
This limited showpiece is available in-store now.
Since meal kits continue to be a popular food trend this year, it makes sense that meal-kit company Chefs Plate is offering a Lunar New Year-inspired creation. Its tasty chicken-and-shrimp chow mein with chili-garlic oil recipe includes mushrooms and fresh bok choy and all the condiments you’ll need to make this new year’s meal at home. Many Asian families enjoy long noodles on the first day of the lunar calendar because they symbolize longevity.
Ordering is available until February 10.
The Chinese Restaurant Awards have teamed up with eight top restaurants in Metro Vancouver to offer a new culinary experience in celebration of Lunar New Year. Part dining series and part fundraiser, each restaurant will donate $25 from each dinner menu sale to the new St. Paul’s Hospital to be constructed on Vancouver’s False Creek Flats. Diners will get to enjoy special menus featuring a variety of cuisines, including Cantonese, Sichuan, Pan-Asian, Hong Kong-style, and more.
Participating restaurants include Bamboo Grove Restaurant, Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine, Heritage Asian Eatery, Hotpot Palace, Joy Café by Fortune Terrace, Po Kong Vegetarian Restaurant, The Fish Man, and Torafuku.
The dinner menus will be served from February 8 to 21.
Seafood is always a popular dish during Lunar New Year, and Cardero’s is offering a special seafood platter for the occasion. The sizeable offering features a dozen fresh oysters, chilled clams, prawns, mussels, crab claws, ahi tuna tataki, salmon poke, and several condiments such as miso-ginger vinaigrette, red-wine mignonette, and cocktail sauce.
This platter is available February 11 and 12.
Social enterprise Cà Phê is offering two limited-edition Lunar New Year treat boxes in celebration of Tết (Lunar New Year in Vietnamese). Founder Minna Van says this year’s festivities will look very different, so she wanted to create something for families to enjoy together, virtually.
Each red-and-gold gift box (available in two sizes) comes with lucky red envelopes, traditional fortune candies, candied lotus seeds, candied coconuts, a bag of Cà Phê coffee beans, and phin (coffee brewing tool).
Pre-ordering is available now for pickup or delivery, and proceeds will go toward educational and community programming in the Downtown Eastside.
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