By Kristi Alexandra

This Lunar New Year rings in the Year of the Rat, with celebrations taking place all over Metro Vancouver. Lunar New Year is celebrated in several Asian diasporic communities, including Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Chinese. On January 25, expect to see paper lanterns, lion dances and fireworks across Vancouver and surrounding areas–but most delectable of all these ancient and vibrant traditions are the treats that help celebrate the occasion. Here are some classic Lunar New Year goodies from a few different traditions and where to find them as the holiday approaches.

Dumplings Galore!

It’s no secret that people love to gather together and share dumplings on any given day–just ask any dim sum restaurateur. Dumplings are especially significant during Lunar New Year as they can denote families spending time together and, even more auspiciously, resemble ancient Chinese money known as gold ingot. There will be tons of regular spots to get dumplings, but for some extra adventure, check out Richmond’s Dumpling Trail. They have 20 recommended spots, including Szechuan House in Aberdeen Centre, which will be decorated with flowers for the affair. Some of the dumplings on the trail are available only during dim sum hours (11 am to 2 pm). Check out the map and get eating here.

More Banquet For Your Buck

Traditional Chinese New Year meals could very well include whole fish, whole chicken, and a serving of sweet rice balls. Each of these foods, while tasty in their own right, also have symbolic meaning. Serving a whole chicken is symbolic of wholeness and prosperity, while the round shape of sweet rice balls signifies unity. A fish served whole–head, tail et al–represents good endings and beginnings, and is also fortunate because of the way it sounds. In Chinese, the word for fish, “yu,” sounds similar to the words for “wish” and “abundance.” You’ll likely find all of these dishes and more at the following restaurant’s Lunar New Year banquets, which include several courses.

Grand Crystal Seafood Restaurant’s Lunar New Year Banquet
Date: January 30 2020
Time: 5:30 pm
Location: Grand Crystal Seafood Restaurant, 4500 Kingsway, Burnaby
Price: $89 per person, or $870 per table of 10

2020 Chinese New Year Banquet Dinner
Date: February 6
Time: 5:30 pm
Location: Continental Seafood Restaurant, #150 – 11700 Cambie Road, Richmond
Price:$75, or Table of 10 for $680

Chinese New Year Banquet
Date: January 26
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Floata Seafood Restaurant, #400-180 Keefer Street, Vancouver
Price:  $40

New Traditions

It wouldn’t be a new year without some new customs. Here are two spots in Vancouver that are breaking from tradition to bring you a new way to celebrate the Year of the Rat.

Mixing English and Chinese traditions, Le Doux Ciel (65 Smithe Street) is launching a special Lunar New Year afternoon high tea for a limited time. From January 18 to February 18, book for two people or more and receive a limited-edition gift box. $59.99 per person.

High Tea at Le Doux Ciel

If you love celebrations, Lunar New Year treats and pop-ups, then the Fortune Food Fair is for you. Chinatown’s Fortune Sound Club (147 E Pender St, Vancouver) is bringing a one-day food fair pop-up event on January 26. Best of all? Entry is free! Just bring your appetite, as you’ll be seeing bites from vendors such as Katz Pozole, Nanay’s Kitchen, Wara Thai Eatery, DD Mau Chinatown, Salty Cabbage Kimchi, Dicky’s Dumps Wonton Station, and Maria Gamboa’s Palayok.

Treats to Take Home

Richmond-based chocolatier Wild Sweets has two different Chinese New Year treat options on offer: the 2020 CNY Limited Edition Chocolate Art collection, inspired by an ingredient highly popular in Chinese culture – White Rabbit Candy; and the 2020 Lunar Limited Edition Chocolate Art Gateau. The cake resembles the Chinese tradition of ‘Red Envelopes’ with its bright red cocoa butter finish and gold coins decor. Pick them up at Wild Sweets, 12191 Hammersmith Way #2145, Richmond.

Image Courtesy of Wild Sweets

Elsewhere in Richmond, at Little Fox Bakehouse, you’ll find adorable Chinese New Year macarons in the likeness of this year’s beloved rat. They’re also doling out black sesame shortbread in boxes of eight for those who want to take something home to share with the family. Snag them at Little Fox Bakehouse, 8181 Cambie Road # 1180, Richmond.

Image courtesy of Little Fox Bakehouse

In Vancouver, you can either grab these puffs to go or enjoy their unique delectability at Beta5 Chocolates. The fine food bakery is serving up three different types of puffs for the Lunar New Year from January 11 to 31. First is the Mandarin Rice Pudding Cream Puff (mandarins are given during Chinese New Year as a symbol of good luck), the Salted Egg Yolk Cream Puff complete with duck egg yold custard and mochi, and finally the Mango Milk Tea Cream Puff with mango curd and milk tea mousse. Each are $5.

Mandarin Rice Pudding from Beta5 Chocolate Cafe

You can also pick up their Lunar New Year Chocolate collection for $30, which includes 12 pieces of the following chocolate flavours: Mandarin (66% dark chocolate and mandarin ganache with mandarin caramel), Tang Yuan (fresh ginger-infused muscovado sugar ganache with black sesame praline), and the Pu-Erh Tea (pu-erh tea infused 65% dark chocolate ganache). Grab all of the above at Beta5 Chocolates, 409 Industrial Avenue.


Main image is by Abhishek Aanwa Limbu.

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