Five food specials and festivals to celebrate Lunar New Year
If Jan. 1 didn’t feel like the start you’d envisioned as you rang in 2022 — or if you simply love to celebrate new beginnings — Lunar New Year begins Feb. 1 and offers another chance to start anew.
Lunar New Year is all about welcoming good fortune and the potential of the year ahead and letting go of the past. The holiday is full of celebration, food and cheer, and there are a number of restaurants, bars and organizations offering food festivals, high teas, customary dishes and more. Here are a few ways to feast and ring in the Year of the Tiger.
High tea at Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia
Arcadia’s Le Méridien hotel is celebrating the Lunar New Year with a themed high tea that includes savory items and a tiered tower of sweets. The set menu has options such as red-date mochi, braised pork belly with lotus root, uni sashimi with caviar, coconut jelly, green-tea noodles with dashi, and peanut sesame candy. Tea is included, with more than a dozen selections, among them Earl Grey Yin Zhen, jasmine, and oolong caramel au beurre. The red-hued Tiger Style drink, available for an extra $15, includes sparkling wine and a hibiscus-tea simple syrup. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance, with a minimum of two guests per reservation.
130 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, (626) 777-6699, marriott.com/hotels/travel/laxme-le-meridien-pasadena-arcadia. $95 per person.
Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival
Alhambra paused its Lunar New Year street festival in 2021, but this year it’s back in a slightly slimmed-down version. The cultural, culinary and educational event returns on Feb. 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with programming such as Korean fan dancers and a traditional Chinese dragon dance, crafts and games for kids and more than 50 produce vendors from the Alhambra Farmers Market. Participating restaurants, stalls and food trucks include Shake Ramen, serving shakable, sealed cups of noodles and toppings; Waffle Land, making puffy waffles; the Candy Man, who’ll be demoing and selling Chinese dragon candy; and Miister Potato, serving Korean-style “tornado” potatoes on a stick.
100 S. 2nd St., Alhambra, (626) 282-8481, alhambralunarnewyear.com. Free.
Fundraising chocolates from Valerie Confections
Chocolatier husband-and-wife duo Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman Jr. are ushering in the Lunar New Year with a box of luck-inspired sweets. The team at Valerie Confections has cooked up a nine-piece chocolate set, with rows of three gold-topped truffles flanking a row of red truffles emblazoned with “good fortune.” It’s available for purchase online and at both bricks-and-mortar locations (Echo Park and Westlake). All in-person proceeds from the Lunar New Year box sold on Feb. 1 will be donated to the Asian Youth Center, a nonprofit that offers educational, cultural and nutritional aid for in-need youth and their families and services in Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese, in addition to Spanish and English.
1665 Echo Park Ave. Los Angeles, (213) 250-9365; 3364 W. First St., Los Angeles, (213) 739-8149, valerieconfections.com/collections/new-seasonal-1/products/lunar-new-year-good-luck-assortment. $25.
Dear Bella Creamery ice cream kits
Owners Alice Cherng and Belinda Wei showcase flavors inspired by their Taiwanese-American heritage at their Hollywood plant-based ice cream shop, Dear Bella Creamery, and for Lunar New Year they’ve created a kit to bring the festivities home. Each kit includes three pints of ice cream in themed flavors: a sweet-savory ode to dan dan noodles, made with peanut ice cream and chili crisp; a pint that riffs on classic Taiwanese pineapple cake, which Cherng and Wei bake in house before folding it into oat milk ice cream with roasted-pineapple jam; and an option that steeps toasted black sesame seeds in the oat milk base. The kits also include a jar of house-made red bean sauce for DIY sundaes; candy toppings such as sesame balls and mung bean cookies; and envelopes filled with $1 coupons for future visits. Preorders for the ice cream kits begin Jan. 22, with pickup available between Jan. 29 and Feb. 13.
1253 Vine St., Suite 12, Los Angeles, (323) 848-4672, dearbellacreamery.com/cake/p/chinese-new-year-celebration-kit. $58.88.
Poon choi and more at Hop Woo BBQ & Seafood Restaurant
Chinatown stalwart Hop Woo is serving a special menu of Lunar New Year dishes from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, including the Cantonese classic poon choi, which requires hours of preparation and layers nine individually cooked items over braised cabbage. The meatier option ($128) includes an arrangement of braised pig feet, braised pig tongue, braised dried oysters, roast pork, roast duck, Chinese chicken, braised shiitake mushroom, tofu skin and fat choy; the seafood-heavy option ($188) replaces the tongue and the tofu skin with abalone and shrimp. The dish symbolizes community, and fittingly, each order of poon choi should feed around six people. Hop Woo also is offering braised dried oysters with fat choy and lettuce ($28); braised pig feet with fat choy and lettuce ($23); and whole suckling pig ($208 to feed 12 to 14; $288 to feed 40). Poon choi requires a 50% deposit and at least two days of notice; the whole suckling pigs also require 50% deposit and must be ordered at least five days in advance.
845 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 617-3038, hopwoo.com.
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