6 Ways to Ring in the Chinese New Year in SF

CNY14 7039 (c) Moanalani Jeffrey
Photo Credit: Moanalani Jeffrey

Chinese New Year starts tomorrow and there’s plenty of ways to celebrate the Year of the Sheep here in San Francisco. From a gala dinner at city hall to a memorable dessert at one of our favorite Embarcadero restaurants, here’s something for everyone.

CNY14 7077 (c) Moanalani Jeffrey

Photo Credit: Moanalani Jeffrey

1. If you’re musically inclined, head to the Symphony’s 15th Annual Lunar New Year Concert and Celebration this Saturday, February 21 at Davies Symphony Hall. The festivities begin at 2:00 pm with a reception that includes family-friendly activities like lion dancing, Chinese calligraphy, arts and crafts, and complimentary food, tea, and desserts. The 3:00 pm concert will be led by guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen, the Music Director of the Memphis Symphony and the Chicago Sinfonietta. The works feature Asian composers and Chinese zither player Su Chang will perform two movements of Identity—Zhongshan Zhuang. The Lunar New Year Imperial Dinner follows the show at 5:00 pm in City Hall’s Grand Rotunda.


Photo Credit: Julio Duffoo

2. If you consider yourself a serious foodie, make a reservation now for Central Kitchen’s Mister Jiu night on Thursday, February 19th, the first evening of Chinese New Year. Chef Brandon Jew, who’s yet-to-be-opened Chinatown restaurant, Mister Jiu, is already on our radar, will be taking over the kitchen to create a family style meal of ten items that are served over multiple courses. Jew is a long-time friend of Central Kitchen’s chef Thomas McNaughton: the two cooked together years ago at Quince. The transformation of the Italian restaurant into a Chinese eatery will certainly be memorable.

Photo Credit: The Ritz-Carlton
3. If you love staying in a plush and swanky room, the Ritz-Carlton is the perfect destination. From now through March 7, the hotel is offering several exciting curated experiences with the Year of the Sheep in mind. The first is a self-guided walking tour through Chinatown designed by Parallel 37’s chef Michael Rotondo. Rotondo shares his favorite eight spots for Chinese food and beverage as well as the best shop for kitchen utensils and the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. On Saturday February 21 at 2 pm and 3:15 pm, guests can partake in a traditional Chinese tea with delectable bites like peking duck, cured Mandarin lotus bun, and caramelized pineapple custard tarts. Not into tea? How about an in-room presentation of dim sum? Hotel stayers can order a selection of savory steamed and fried dumplings with a variety of fillings. There’s also a lovely cocktail, the Dragon’s Gate, inspired by the iconic Chinatown Gate, on the bar’s menu. It’s a handcrafted libation made with cognac, apple, and green tea.

Prosperous Goat

Photo Credit: Mandarin Oriental

4. If you want to celebrate Chinese New Year over happy hour, go to the Bar at Brasserie S&P at the Mandarin Oriental. There, you’ll find a menu of Lucky 8 bar bites. This selection of eight Asian snacks includes crispy calamari with ginger five spice aioli; chicken potstickers; peking duck with hoisin, duck pancakes, and scallions; and char siu pork with pomelo, and Chinese long beans. To wash everything down, choose from Tsingtao, which is a Chinese beer, or the Prosperous Goat, a specialty cocktail that’s made with Bombay Sapphire East gin, lemongrass kumquat syrup, Chinese bitters, soda, and a sweet and salty togarashi pepper rim.

DOSA Ramen

Photo Credit: Courtesy of DOSA

5. If you’re craving noodles, book a table at DOSA Fillmore on Thursday or Friday night. The Indian restaurant has teamed up with Richie Nakano, the chef and owner of Hapa Ramen, to offer up a hot and sour Indo-Chinese ramen dish. The flavorful soup is made with chicken broth, ginger, garlic, chili, cumin, coriander, turmeric, miso and scallions. Nakano is hand-making the noodles for the ramen specifically for this limited-edition, not-to-be-missed dish.


Photo Credit: Waterbar

6. If you have a sweet tooth, Waterbar is the ideal spot to order a celebratory dessert in honor of Chinese New Year. The Embarcadero eatery is plating up Executive Pastry Chef Angela Salvatore’s forbidden rice pudding. The scrumptious pudding is made with coconut milk, tapioca, and candied ginger and is served with ginger poached pears and Szechuan peppercorn cookie. Gong Xi Fa Cai!