The rhythmic sound of drums and gongs echo around the streets of London Chinatown during Chinese New Year. If you can see over the heads of the gathered crowds, you will catch a glimpse of the “Dancing Lion” weaving his way through the throng to bless the restaurants with prosperity. For the fifteen days of Chinese New Year, there will be special menus and celebrations in Chinatown and Chinese restaurants around town.
Every year, more and more restaurants and hotels in London are embracing Chinese New Year with special menus for the Year of the Pig.
Lion Dances are usually performed by troupes from Kung Fu schools as it involves a lot of physical training. A lions head is carried by the lead player and under the tail, you will usually find a younger apprentice. They “dance” to the iconic rhythm of kung fu drums. The loud drumming and sometimes firecrackers are to ward off evil spirits and a visit by the lion bring good luck and prosperity to the home and businesses.
“Lai See” or red packets are often given out as a way of distributing good luck.
In London, the annual extravaganza in Trafalgar Square will be held on Sunday 10th February 2019. Special guests and celebrities will be on stage to entertain the crowds. There will be a long Dragon dance, colourful traditional dances, music and Chinese food. Streets around Chinatown will be closed to traffic and floats with mythical animals will be paraded through the streets. If you see the God of Prosperity, ask him for a gift and you might get a surprise. It’s a great day out for all the family.
Here are some delicious ways that we can celebrate Chinese New Year around London.
Xu Tea House London
Taming of the Pig menu from £39, from 4th – 28th Feb
Fergus and Margot Henderson (St John & Rochelle Kitchen) are doing a Collaboration with Xu and are presenting a nose to tail menu for the Year of the Pig. Xu usually serves a Taiwanese menu and it is quite different from the mostly Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown. This is one that I am intrigued to try. If you book in for the 10th, there will firecrackers and the traditional Lion Dance too.
Book here: https://xulondon.com/
Royal China London
Royal China is one of the most popular group of Hong Kong Chinese Restaurants in London and they are especially popular for dim sum on the weekend. They serve fabulous Cantonese cuisine and for Chinese New Year, they are offering a choice of New Year menus. In addition, every table that dines with them throughout the new year period will get a special lucky “Lai See”. Each of these red packets contain special gifts and a fortune.
There will be Lion Dances at every branch, check their website for dates and times. https://www.royalchinagroup.co.uk/celebrate-chinese-new-year-2019-at-royal-china/
China Tang London
Chinese New Year menu from £188
Celebrate in style at China Tang with their 10 Course menu. Including a whole host of auspicious dishes like “Dragon Rolls Over the Four Seas” which is a lobsters dish. You will also get on of their Lucky Tang’s Fortune Cookies. Book here: http://www.chinatanglondon.co.uk/
The Peninsular Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel O2
Even non-Chinese Restaurants are celebrating honour their Chinese guests. The Peninsular Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel at O2 will be serving a Chinese New Year Menu. This caters to their Chinese guests by making sure that they are given rooms on auspicious floors, the decor in the rooms have the right auspicious colours and they even serve Chinese breakfast with congee and noodles.
Pings Pan Asian Selfridges
Malaysian Chef Ping is serving the cutest goldfish dumplings at her outlet in Selfridges. There is a host of other Malaysian specialities like Laksa and Char Kway Teow which are really authentic and worth taking a break from all that shopping.
Little Moons Mochi
While in Selfridges, pop down to the food halls for some of these delicious mochis. These are glutinous rice balls filled with flavoured ice creams. I’d highly recommend the espresso, yuzu and mango flavours. You can buy just one mochi or get a box with all the flavours.
Chinese New Year in Rome
Meanwhile, in Rome, the City is hosting their first ever Chinese New Year celebration. From 2nd to 10th of February, the Historic Centre of Rome will be hosting a series of events to celebrate the Year of the Pig. Try and spot the Chinese Artist Liu Bolin, hiding in the Fashion district and around Rome’s most famous landmarks.
Details here: https://www.facebook.com/Rome-Chinese-New-Year-394036437830216/
If you don’t fancy going out to Celebrate Chinese New Year, here are some dishes that you might want to try at home.
How will you be celebrating The Year of the Pig?