Get ready to feast as Lunar New Year is coming! Following the lunisolar calendar, Lunar New Year officially starts on January 22 this year. This holiday is celebrated by many Asian countries such as Vietnam, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, and is commonly known as Tet, Seollal, Chinese New Year, and Spring Festival. Within each, there is some variation in traditions. For instance, this year marks the Year of the Rabbit for those following the Chinese zodiac, but for Vietnamese, it is the Year of the Cat. The cuisine from each country differs slightly, but with one commonality; it’s always in abundance.
We’ve rounded up 10 dishes for you to try during this Lunar New Year celebration. Check out which local businesses are serving them in your area on Yelp!
Banh Tet or Banh Chung
A Vietnamese savory cake offered to the ancestors at Tet that is sticky rice filled with mung beans and then wrapped in leaves to boil to perfection. Banh tet and banh chung are distinguished by the South and North Vietnam with subtle differences such as their shape (cylindrical versus square) and the type of leaves they are wrapped in (banana versus la dong). This dish is known to be extremely versatile as you can sweeten the cake by adding sugar on top or pair it with pickled veggies and fish sauce for a more piquant taste.
Photo from Banh Mi Oven (San Jose, CA) by business
This Korean rice cake soup is a staple among Seollal feasts. This bowl signifies becoming a year older, good health, and a bright year ahead. It’s filled with rice cakes (that resemble the old Korean coin currency), vegetables, eggs, and sometimes mandu (dumplings) mixed into a bone broth.
Photo from Marrizzang (Flushing, NY) by Steven L
As the name suggests, longevity noodles are eaten during joyous celebrations to bring a long life and prosperity. These hand pulled noodles are commonly stir fried with other veggies and proteins.
Photo from Slurp Slurp (Chicago, IL) by Francis R
Galbijjim, a braised beef short rib stew, is a hearty dish to share amongst friends and family around celebrations. The fall off the bone, tender ribs are commonly served with carrots, potatoes in a sweet and savory sauce, and served on a hot skillet to keep warm.
Photo from Sun Nong Dan (Los Angeles, CA) by Annie W
Eating a whole fish on Lunar New Year signifies more abundance, prosperity, and surplus of fortune. The Chinese pronunciation for fish, Yu, is similar to that of abundance, hence the correlation. The dish is generally steamed and based with a light soy sauce blend, then topped with a tower of herbs.
Photo from Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant (Toronto, Canada) by Chris C
Also called the treasure pot or Chinese casserole is filled to the brim with a number of ingredients—seafood, meat, and vegetables. Options may include pork belly, abalone, shrimp, turnip, taro, napa cabbage, and more. Originating from Hong Kong, this dish is of true abundance with a long preparation. The term directly translates to “basin vegetables.”
Photo from Kirin Seafood Restaurant (Vancouver, Canada) by Angela L
Also known as yusheng or lo hei is a common Singaporean/Malaysian dish. The dish is encompassed with a blend of colorful salad ingredients and raw fish, typically salmon. The ingredients are all nicely divided until you are ready to eat and commence the ‘prosperity toss.’ This dish symbolizes togetherness and the reunion of friends and family for celebration.
Photo from Kopitiam (New York, New York) by business
AKA the Korean pancake is commonly eaten as a side dish or appetizer for Lunar New Year. A savory pancake-like dish filled with green onions and sometimes seafood or kimchi, then lightly fried until golden brown.
Photo from Korea House Restaurant (Orlando, FL) by John C
Che Troi Nuoc or Tangyuan
These sweet chewy balls in a sweet syrup are common in both Vietnamese and Chinese celebrations. Tangyuan are mini mochi balls in a brown sugar blend, while che troi nuoc are glutinous rice balls filled with mung bean paste and dunked in a ginger syrup. Toppings can vary to add extra creaminess or crunchiness like coconut milk, ginger, sesame seeds, and peanuts. Eating this dish symbolizes togetherness and completeness, ending the new year celebration on a sweet note.
Photo from Thach Che Hien Khanh (Garden Grove, CA) by Ngoc H
Another sweet glutinous treat roughly translates to new year cake. This treat also symbolizes prosperity and a symbol of growing each year. These can be served lightly fried or steamed.
Photo from Jade Garden (Seattle, WA) by Eva M
Which dish have you tried? Did we miss any that you typically feast on? Let us know! Tag us at @Yelp in any of your celebrations!
Happy Lunar New Year!
San Nin Faai Lok (Cantonese)
Xin Nian Kuai Le (Mandarin)
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Vietnamese)
Sae Hae Book Mani Padu Seyo (Korean)