Lunar New Year — also known as Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, Tet Nguyen Dan, and Seollal — officially begins on Tuesday, February 1, kicking off the Year of the Tiger. For many East Asian and Southeast Asian communities and countries including China, Vietnam, Korea, and Taiwan, Lunar New Year is the most important celebration of the year. While traditions may vary by country, key themes of luck, fortune, happiness, and prosperity are represented in the holiday’s colors of gold and red, in ceremonial gifts, and in traditional foods — dishes like niángāo, or glutinous rice cake; luóbo gāo, or turnip cakes; and lo hei, a traditional Cantonese dish with raw fish at the centerpiece.
Since food is the cornerstone of Lunar New Year celebrations, we’ve rounded up a handful of ways to celebrate in 2022 with food and drink in New Orleans, from bakery sweets to pop-up menus and a virtual cooking class. Here’s to a lucky and prosperous Year of the Tiger.
Did we miss a festive way to ring in Lunar New Year 2022? Let us know.
Cook with chef Nini Nguyen
New Orleans native and season 16 Top Chef contestant Nini Nguyen is currently teaching (affordable) virtual cooking classes from New York and New Orleans, and in honor of Lunar New Year she’s devoting a class to caramelized pork with eggs, a dish commonly eaten by Vietnamese families this time of year. Tune in to learn the art of Kho (caramelizing/ braising), how to cook rice, and how to steaming eggs on Sunday, January 30 at 6 p.m., for $50 per household. See details and buy tickets here.
Dragon Dance at Beard Papa’s
The New Orleans branch of Japanese-born bakery chain Beard Papa’s is inviting its (many) loyal fans to stop by the Magazine Street shop on Sunday, January 30 at 1 p.m. for a Lunar New Year celebration, featuring a dragon dance and special cream puff flavors to include red bean and salted egg yolk and coconut — buy five cream puffs, get one free. A perfect Lunar New Year outing for the kiddos.
Get Your Mom and Dim Sum Pop-Up
A main food component of the Chinese New Year is citrus, particularly tangerines and kumquats, the latter of which is a New Orleans staple — they litter the sidewalks this time of year. Inventive dim sum pop-up Get Your Mom and Dim Sum, which makes appearances at Miel Brewery, Second Line Brewing, Oak Street Brewery, Zony Mash Beer Project, and Urban South throughout the week, is cooking up something special in honor of the tradition — of course using kumquats. The new dish, as teased in an Instagram post, is set to roll out next week, so see the delicious pop-up’s schedule here and follow along on Instagram to see how they use the fruit to set up a prosperous New Year.
Dinner at Luvi
There are a few seats left for Luvi’s special Year of the Tiger Dinner — one restaurant where the price tag often associated with special tasting menus is surely worth it. The Uptown restaurant with serve a three course dinner (with two drinks) on Tuesday, February 1 at 7 p.m., priced at $150 per person. Menu details are available if you inquire by email, but unless you have dietary restrictions, we recommend going in blind — chef Hao Gong’s treatment of Shanghai specialties and raw fish preparations are consistently remarkable. See here for tickets.
Lunch at Union Ramen
All this week, Union Ramen is running a Lunar lunch special, offering your choice between crawfish and shrimp lumpia or sweet and spicy wings to start plus a bowl of tori or miso ramen, all for $24. Available 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It may be lunch, but this Magazine Street destination for ramen and mazemen (no broth ramen) has great cocktails.
Sweets from Wishing Town Bakery
Of course New Orleans’s most exciting Asian bakery and market can be counted on for festive Lunar New Year treats, always as beautiful as they are delicious. Lunar New Year cakes and special king cakes feature the colors red (representing luck, fortune, and happiness) and gold (wealth and prosperity); call Wishing Town in Metairie or go online to snag one or order egg yolk puff pastry gift sets.
Celebrate Tết Nguyên Đán — or Feast of the First Morning of the First Day (or simply Tết) at New Orleans’s annual Tet Fest, the free celebration held from February 4 to 6 at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church. Food including sticky rice cakes, spring rolls, banh mi, and pho will be available for purchase alongside a firework show and dragon dance.
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