Saturday, January 31, 2015

Horse Around

Eat your way through the Chinese Lunar New Year


The Super Bowl may be in town, but this weekend is about more than just football.

On Friday, we enter the Year of the Horse, and with it comes many days of celebration. Good news is you don't need to go down to Chinatown to watch the parade on Sunday (though it would make one hell of a walking tailgate party before the big game).

Instead, head to one of these fine restaurants honoring the Lunar New Year.
The haute Chinese chain celebrates the Year of the Horse with a limited-time à la carte menu of traditional dishes done up fancy: including Teachew-style steamed snapper with salted plum; braised Chinese cabbage with mushrooms; and stewed pork trotter with black moss, whose Chinese name translates to "hair vegetable." (Hey, if you're gonna eat something called "hair vegetable," it might as well be here.) The meal's topped off by some red macarons (pictured), a traditional "lion dance" performance, and a crisp $2 bill in a red envelope, signifying good luck in the New Year.
Wed Jan 29-Sat Feb 8. Hakkasan, 311 W. 43rd St. (8th Ave.), Midtown.
Pok Pok hosts this prix fixe dinner in its original Columbia St. space — now called Suan — with one of our favorite spots to get a lamb face salad, Xi'an Famous Foods. The pig-heavy menu includes spinach and egg dumplings, pork broth soup, buns, and pork belly stewed with rock candy and pandan leaf, chili-spiked hand-pulled noodles with yet more pork belly, and deep-fried mochi dumplings stuffed with black sesame and sour hawberry, which Xi'an usually serves in iced tea.
Fri-Sat Jan 31-Feb 1, 6 or 9p. Pok Pok Suan, 127 Columbia St. (Kane St.), Cobble Hill. $150 here.
If you haven't had a chance to try out Café China's new Tribeca sibling, China Blue, here's the perfect opportunity to do so. The annual Luckyrice festival co-hosts this little gin-fueled shindig with the Shanghai-focused spot, with plenty of cocktails and small bites to go around. Think radish puffs, shumai, crispy lotus with shrimp, and savory bean curd wraps.
Tue Feb 4, 6-9p. China Blue, 135 Watts St. (Washington St.), Tribeca. $88 here.
Stephen Starr's massive restaurant ain't exactly traditional in the strictest sense, but the nightclub atmosphere quickly dissolves into the background as the dishes start to arrive. For Lunar New Year, it's got two full weeks of festivities lined up, including menu specials — lobster and kabocha dumplings, oxtail longevity noodles — as well as a dumpling class on February 8. But your best bet might be the three-course dim sum brunch on February 9, with specialty cocktails, a DJ, and dancing (and probably a few more of those cocktails, too). 
Fri Jan 31-Fri Feb 14. 75 9th Ave. (W. 16th St.), Chelsea. Dumpling class $85; dim sum brunch $55; call (212) 989-6699 for reservations.

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