“An important part of celebrating the Lunar New Year is dining with family and having abundant feasts," said Jacky Zhou, chef and owner of Happy Harbor in Rowland Heights, Calif.
Las Vegas (PRWEB) February 13, 2010
This Valentine’s Day marks the start of a roaring Year of the Tiger on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. As the tradition goes, the celebrations of Chinese New Year, also known as the spring Festival, begin on New Year's Eve, and last for 15 days. Chinese New Year has been observed annually in China for more than 5,000 years and is not only the most important holiday in China, it is also widely celebrated in other Asian countries and throughout the culturally diverse United States.
Either dining out at a local Chinese restaurant or taking home a Chinese meal is a popular way to celebrate the Chinese New Year in the U.S. From Wild Ginger in New York to Happy Harbor in Los Angeles, there are many award-winning Chinese restautants from which to choose. A complete list of the restaurants that were winners of this year’s Top 100 Chinese restaurants ranked by Chinese Restaurant News is available at http://www.Top100ChineseRestaurants.com.
“An important part of celebrating the Lunar New Year is dining with family and having abundant feasts. It is also a Chinese tradition to select special ingredients and prepare good-luck dishes to put on the table. It is believed that eating the special dishes will bring you fortune and good luck,” said Jacky Zhou, chef and owner of Happy Harbor in Rowland Heights, Calif. “Every year, we put out special menus for New Year’s banquets and parties. It is a tradition for us Chinese, but for our non-Chinese customers, food can be a fun way to learn about and understand a different culture. I believe that food is the best way to teach culture, and I always try to keep the tradition by serving the best quality food to our customers.”
Chinese New Year food is symbolic and represents good luck, prosperity and health. Traditional banquet items include dumplings (representing good luck, fortune, and family togetherness), lettuce (representing prosperity) and fish, (in the Chinese language this is the same word for "success" or "abundance"). Noodles also are a Chinese New Year staple and they are never cut, as they symbolize a long-life.
Chinese Restaurant News recommends the following dishes for those seeking to hold their own New Year’s celebration. Eight traditional dishes were selected because in Chinese, the word “eight” sounds like “good luck.”
Jiaozi – These “luck-telling” traditional Chinese dumplings are essential during Lunar New Year in Northern China. During preparation, the cook may hide a coin in one of the dumplings. The person who finds the coin will likely have a good fortune in the New Year. Having the luck-telling jiaozi during the Lunar New Year festival is just like taking fortune cookies in Chinese restaurants in the west. Common dumpling fillings include pork, mutton, beef, fish, and shrimp which are usually mixed with chopped vegetables.
Nian Gao – Chinese believe this auspicious dish can bring good fortune in the year ahead, both for its name and its sticky texture. It is made of glutinous rice flour, and features a sticky, soft and creamy texture. For this reason, it represents the family that sticks together, and is a must at Lunar New Year to wish for a family reunion. Sticky Cake is steamed and made with glutinous rice flour and dried fruit. Traditionally, Sticky Cake is made with a Chinese brown candy that is available at Asian markets.
Yuanxiao – A special food for the Lantern Festival, or Yuanxiao Festival, which takes place at the end of the Chinese New Year celebration, this dish is a kind of sweet dumpling rice ball. Yuanxiao is sticky, sweet and round in shape, symbolizing family unity, completeness and happiness. It is made with sticky rice flour filled with sweet stuffing and served in syrup water.
Lettuce Wraps – The Cantonese word for lettuce sounds like “rising fortune,” so it is common to serve lettuce wraps filled with other lucky food. To turn this into an even more symbolic dish, dried oysters are substituted for the chicken meat, as dried oyster sounds like the word for "good."
Steamed Whole Fish – The word for fish, "Yu," sounds like the words both for “wish” and “plentiful” in Chinese. Serving a fish at the end of the meal symbolizes a wish for abundance in the coming year.
Lion’s Head Meatballs – This visually appealing dish from Shanghai consists of oversized meatballs with bok choy "manes." In Chinese culture, the lion represents power and strength, while the meatballs symbolize reunion of family.
Eight Precious Pudding – This famous traditional banquet dessert usually contains eight kinds of dried candied fruits that represent eight precious stones. This dish is also popular because the number eight is considered lucky.
Yu Sheng – Also known as Lo Hei, this dish, a salad containing raw fish and crunchy vegetables, is traditionally served on the seventh day of Chinese New Year, which the Chinese celebrate as "everyone's birthday." The vegetables symbolize the renewal of life, while the fish signifies prosperity. According to Chinese legend, the higher you toss the Yu Sheng salad, the greater your luck and prosperity in the New Year.
For more information about the Top100 Chinese Restaurants or Chinese Restaurant News, visit http://www.Top100ChineseRestaurants.com.
About Chinese Restaurant News
Chinese Restaurant News (http://www.c-r-n.com) was founded in 1995 to inform the Chinese speaking owners and operators of over 45,600 Chinese restaurants in the U.S. of industry news and trends. CRN is published by parent company, Smart Business Services, Inc., a global media company that represents the Chinese-American community and business people involved with U.S.-China trade. (http://www.s-b-s.net).
About the Top100 Chinese Restaurants Awards
Chinese Restaurant News (CRN) names the Top100 Chinese Restaurants each year. The Top100 Overall Excellence award signifies the competition's highest honor. The competition is open to all Chinese restaurants in the U.S. Participating restaurants include newly established restaurants, seasoned restaurants, chain restaurants and past award-winners. Check out more than 2,000 past winners and current candidates in all 50 states at http://www.Top100ChineseRestaurants.com.