7 Delicious Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year in SF

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M.Y. China
M.Y. China

Chinese New Year officially starts today and over a billion people are expected to celebrate the Year of the Monkey in one way or another. If you want to enjoy a traditional Chinese meal in San Francisco, you can most certainly do that at one of the fine establishments listed here. From afternoon tea with caramelized pineapple custard tarts to eight courses of authentic cuisine, here are seven delicious ways to ring in the Chinese New Year.

Martin Yan is one of the nation’s top authorities on Chinese food. He’s been teaching Americans how to make pillowy dim sum and shaking beef since 1982 when his television show, Yan Can Cook, debuted. Today he oversees the culinary team at M.Y. China where he’s cooking up Grandma Wu’s eight-course dinner. On the menu? A fortune platter with roast duck, squid, jellyfish, and barbecue pork; good luck soup with organic chicken, lotus root, and dried seaweed; and whole fish with peppers, green onion, and chili bean sauce. One of the cool things about dining at M.Y. China is the open kitchen and noodle demonstrations. Executive chef Tony Wu set a record when he hand-pulled 16,000 noodles in two minutes. Since noodles represent longevity, they will also be one of the courses with shrimp, beech mushrooms, and X.O. sauce. Yum! Note that this meal is on offer from now until February 20th.

Crystal Jade
Crystal Jade

From now until Monday, February 22, Crystal Jade, the massive Chinese restaurant located at the Embarcadero Center that opened to much fanfare last year, is hosting a prix fixe meal of dishes that are typical to the holiday. Highlights include Yusheng, a Teochew-style raw fish salad made with salmon and shredded vegetables, and Pan Cai, a treasure pot Cantonese casserole with scallops, abalone, and prawns. Of course, there will also be roast duck, which symbolizes fertility during the New Year. In honor the red envelope tradition, Crystal Jade is doing a fun interactive giveaway. Each table will be presented with a collection of unmarked Chinese red envelopes all with different surprises, including a $100 gift card, voucher for free dessert, or a free drink during happy hour, among others.

At Hakkasan, the sleek upscale restaurant on the corner of Market and Kearney Streets, they are honoring the wishing tree tradition inspired by the Lam Tsuen Wishing trees in Hong Kong. Guests are invited to write their wishes and hopes for the coming year on gold ribbons, which will then be hung at the restaurant. The special wish menu that coincides with this memorable custom is being offered until February 22. It consists of dishes that will bring joy, luck, and prosperity in 2016 starting with ginseng and chicken soup. There’s also diced Wagyu beef, a dim sum platter, wok-fried lobster in spicy truffle sauce, pipa duck, grilled Chilean sea bass in honey, and mushroom stir-fry with lotus root. For dessert, you’ll enjoy a cocktail and sweet treat inspired by the year of the monkey. The Golden Halo is made with caramel, banana delice, chocolate, and peanut; while the 9 Hóu cocktail comprises nine components — including rum, guava, lime, and peach bitters — that represent the monkey’s ninth position in the Zodiac

The 9 Hóu cocktail at Hakkasan.
The 9 Hóu cocktail at Hakkasan.

Kathy Fang is practically Chinese royalty. She grew up in the kitchen of her dad’s restaurant, Chinatown’s wildly popular House of Nanking. At her SOMA district restaurant, Fang, diners can celebrate the Lunar New Year and Fang’s recent win on the Food Network’s Chopped. The show, which aired, January 26, was Chinese New Year-themed and Fang took home the top honors. Her award-winning dish, Lucky Rice Pudding, is a must try. The scrumptious dessert is made with coconut milk and is topped with a Winter melon mint salad and pulverized lucky dragon candy. Delish!

At E&O Kitchen and Bar, just off of Union Square, executive chef Sharon Nahm has created a menu of festive dishes that are available until the 20th of February. There’s delectable steamed buns with char sou confit of duck, pickled daikon and sprouts; long life noodles with foie gras and mushroom gravy, and whole crispy fish with citrus glaze, ginger, scallions, and chiles. The bar team has come up with three potent concoctions inspired by the Year of the Monkey. The Brass Monkey is a delightful mixture of pineapple rum, amaretto, vermouth, and orange juice while the Wukong cocktail combines prosecco with vodka and huckleberry syrup. Each table will recieve a single red envelope with a surprise. Some envelopes include a golden ticket that awards the recipient a complimentary dinner for two.

Although Dosa is an Indian restaurant, they are commemorating the Spring Festival with menu specials at both the Fillmore and Valencia Street locations until Thursday, February 11. The reason Dosa celebrates the Chinese New Year dates back hundreds of years to when a small community of Hakka Chinese moved across the border to the neighboring city of Calcutta in Bengal, India. These people built a local Chinatown, known as Tangra, where a very popular style of cooking with distinctly Indian flavors was born. Dosa remembers this heritage by serving spicy Szechwan prawns with peppercorns, scallions, ginger, and bell peppers and crispy lam or paneer chow mien with sautéed noodles, green chile, cumin, and vinegar during the Chinese New Year.

Chinese tea at the Ritz-Carlton.
Chinese tea at the Ritz-Carlton.

Tea is a huge part of the Chinese culture and at the Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, every afternoon through Saturday the 20th, a signature Chinese tea will be offered. Tea lovers can sip oolong and green blends of tea and nibble Chinese snacks like peking duck, shrimp with sichuan pepper, and cured Mandarin lotus bun. Sweet confections include oolong Madeleines and caramelized pineapple custard tarts.

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