Already broken your resolutions from January 1? Don’t fret – the Chinese New Year kicks off this week, and the Year of the Rat is meant to symbolise the dawn of a new era.
If you’re planning on starting afresh, it’s a good idea to do so on a full stomach. Food is an integral part of Chinese New Year celebrations, with different dishes on an abundant spread symbolising different hopes and aspirations for the coming lunar year.
A host of London restaurants – Chinese and otherwise – are wishing their diners well over the coming weeks, with January 25 this year marking the crux of the celebrations.
From “prosperity salads” to dumpling-stuffed afternoon teas, here’s where to eat and drink your way to a fortune-filled Chinese New Year.
There’s symbolism in abundance at Hakkasan this Chinese New Year. At both London locations of the high-end restaurant brand, a celebratory menu features eight luxurious dishes. These include “Golden Treasure pockets” filled with coveted abalone, topped with gold leaf and folded to look like money bags, and a “Lucky Jie” dessert, which moulds salted caramel ganache into the shape of a lucky Chinese knot.
How much? £88 per person
Until February 9, two locations in W1, hakkasan.com
Michelin-starred chef Andrew Wong will be putting on a five-course spread at his elegant City restaurant Kym’s. Dozens of red lanterns fill the ceiling above the restaurant’s famed cherry blossom tree, while tables are filled with the likes of a “prosperity salad” made with raw vegetables and salmon, and black truffled pumpkin with a salted duck egg yolk emulsion. The restaurant will also be handing out 3000 fortune cookies containing prizes such as free bottles of wine and complimentary desserts.
How much? £45 per person
Until February 9, 19 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR, kymsrestaurant.com
Lucky & Joy
This new Hackney restaurant from ex-Morito foodies Ellen Parr and Pete Kelly will be celebrating its first Chinese New Year with a seven-dish feast accompanied by a Szechuan Negroni. Bites are all linked to a wish from the forthcoming year, including turnip cake with black vinegar for good fortune, Shanghai-style curried spring roll for wealth and crispy quail marinated in five spice.
How much? £33 per person
Until January 25, 95 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP, luckyandjoy.co.uk
We’re all hoping things are looking up for the Year of the Rat, so why not celebrate Chinese New Year with dinner 33 stories above street level. Hutong, situated in the higher echelons of the Shard, will serve a nine-course celebration menu on the night of January 25. Dishes will include a “good luck” chao shou – a type of prawn and scallop wonton steeped in chilli oil – and hong-hong huo-huo dish, featuring spicy Sichuan-style xiang-la beef ribs.
How much? £95 per person
January 25, 33 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY, hutong.co.uk
Did you know that Chinese food is big in India? Soho restaurant Fatt Pundit focuses on the fusion cuisine that was forged when settlers from China migrated to Kolkata and beyond. For its New Year celebrations, the restaurant will serve two special dishes to accompany its Indo-Chinese menu, including spicy Szechuan momos and a lamb boti paratha, alongside the likes of pomegranate and rabbit wontons in chilli oil, and lollipop chicken with Szechuan chutney.
How much? A la carte, Szechuan momo for £6, lamb boti paratha for £14
January 25, 77 Berwick Street, W1F 8TH, fattpundit.co.uk
If you want to be at the heart of action this Chinese New Year, Chinatown is where it’s at. Along with the annual all-singing, all-dancing parade, there are dozens of places to get some great grub. One such reliable candidate is Wardour Street’s Orient, where diners can tuck into a specially curated a la carte menu for the lunar new year. Dishes include baked lobster with ginger and spring onion, braised lamb brisket with bamboo shoots and a curious portion of stewed pork knuckle with black moss.
How much? A la carte, dishes from £4.90 to £36.90
January 24 - February 2, 15 Wardour Street, W1D 6PH, orientlondon.com
No prizes for guessing which side of its Chinese-Japanese menu Mei Ume is celebrating this month. The elegant City dining room will be adorned with red lanterns made by paper artist Karen Hsu of Pom Pom Factory, while the kitchen will serve two dedicated Chinese menus. Both will feature its signature Peking duck, along with the likes of wok-fried Dover sole and yin yang soup with scallop and crab.
How much? £98 or £138 per person
January 23 - February 6, 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ, meiume.com
The Harrods Tea Rooms
The Chinese have invented a lot of things over the last few millennia – fireworks, paper and, most importantly, tea. The Harrods Tea Rooms thus has a lot to thank them for, and is celebrating Chinese New Year with a special afternoon tea. Desserts on the menu include the “Mahjong” made with gunpowder tea and lime ganache, served alongside the likes of Gressingham duck and hoisin sandwich and a selection of Chinese teas.
How much? £68 per person
Until February 16, 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL, harrods.com
RedFarm is the New York-hailing restaurant that brought PacMan dumplings to Covent Garden in 2018, and there’s still giddy joy to be had there this Chinese New Year. The restaurant will be serving a special a la carte menu for January 25, including the likes of black truffle and chicken soup dumplings, king crab sticky rice and a whole sea bass with miso.
How much? A la carte, dishes from £9 to £28
January 25, 9 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ, redfarmldn.com
Situated on the very edge of Chinatown, this stylish Taiwanese dining room from the team behind Bao is one of the area’s slickest spots. Over the course of the New Year period, the Mister Xu menu will mix the restaurant’s signature dishes with festive favourites such as a coloured chilli whole lemon sole. On the big night, Xu will team up with the Chinese Laundry to create a special dumpling menu for celebrating diners.
How much? £39 per person for set menu, £45 per person for Chinese Laundry collaboration dinner
January 25 - February 9, 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL, xulondon.com
Steaming specialists Bun House are taking time for tea this Chinese New Year, serving a special afternoon tea menu over the festive weekend. Served in a bamboo steamer, the selection of bites includes har gau and shumai dumplings, Hong Kong-style egg tarts, custard lava buns and a CNY bellini, made with salted peach baijiu and peach puree.
How much? £38.80 for two to share
January 25-27, 26-27 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BA, bun.house
Yauatcha’s Chinese New Year menu has a little something to teach us about zodiac legends. The Great Race – which was won by the Rat, earning its place as the first animal of the zodiac – has inspired the festive roster at both its Soho and City locations. Dishes include silver cod with crispy rice and pickled golden beetroot, as well as a claypot dish with cloud ear mushroom and black truffle.
How much? £68 per person
Until February 9, W1, EC2, yauatcha.com