Gong Hei Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year!
Whilst today, Friday 16th February 2018 is the start of the Chinese New Year, this Sunday 18th February marks the arrival of the Year of the Dog in London when thousands of people will gather in London’s West End to watch what has become the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia and we will be there on Sunday to cover it with some great photography.
With this in mind and knowing just how popular the Chinese New Year is in London, I thought we’d take a look at what restaurants are doing to celebrate the Year of the Dog. So here are some highlights we have chosen from around the city, all with their own unique twist.
Le Chinois in Knightsbridge and Bugis Street Brasserie in Kensington
Millennium Hotels are celebrating the Chinese New Year at two of their London hotels this month. Le Chinois in the Millennium Hotel London Knightsbridge are serving their own special menu made with authentic Chinese dishes such as a sizzling golden tofu with straw mushrooms, Yong chow fried rice served with barbecued pork, shrimps and vegetables and fresh steamed lobster with Chinese rice wine and eggs whites. This special New Year menu is available until 28th February, costs £58 per person and is for a minimum of two people.
If you head over to the Millennium Gloucester Hotel London Kensington, you will find Bugis Street Brasserie serving a special Deluxe Chinese Menu for £35 per person until 2nd March which includes a range of full-flavoured dishes promoting the good fortune, happiness and prosperity celebrated throughout Chinese New Year. For example, there’s ‘Tossing Up Good Fortune’ which is a delicious and colourful rainbow salad with Salmon, whilst ‘Harmony and Bliss’ is an authentic lotus leaf rice with Chinese sausages, pork and mushrooms. You will also find plenty of other specials added to their à la carte menu such as ‘Ocean of Happiness’ which is stir fried scallops and prawns served with asparagus and ‘House of Fortune’ which is sautéed diced beef fillet served with Lao Gan Ma sauce.
All guests dining at Le Chinois and Bugis Street Brasserie will also receive a traditional Chinese fortune cookie and be in with a chance to win a range of prizes including a two-night stay at a Millennium Hotels and Resorts European property of their choice or 15% off their entire bill. Now that’s got to be a good way to celebrate the Year of the Dog!
XU in Chinatown
Recently opened Taiwanese restaurant XU, located in Chinatown’s Rupert Street have created an elegant and delectable menu of Taiwanese dishes with a contemporary twist. You can enjoy a Chinese New Year meal in XU’s beautiful 1930s Taiwan style dining room, tucking into dishes such as XO Cornish Queenie Scallops, Xian Bing, Mushroom Dumplings, Grilled Whole Seabass and Charsiu Iberico Pork. Menus start from £45 per person and are available from Friday 16th to Sunday 17th February 2018.
Opium in Chinatown
You’ll need to look hard, but behind an unassuming jade door on Chinatown’s Gerrard Street you will find Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour who are offering an opulent escape from the lively streets below this weekend.
Opirum’s Zodiac Menu takes inspiration from the 12 animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac and features 12 drinks, one for each zodiac sign and each cocktail served in a bespoke vessel in the shape of the respective animal. Thus, this year, being the Year of the Dog, you will be able to enjoy Opium’s Dog cocktail, which symbolises loyalty, and is made with Rain-infused Chivas Regal 12yr Scotch Whisky, Noisette, Biscuit Syrup, Chocolate Bitters and Mead.
Rasa Sayang in Chinatown
This Chinese New Year, Rasa Sayang in Macclesfield Street is serving Yu Sheng, a dish that is served in most restaurants and households in Singapore and Malaysia to promote good luck for the New Year. Its key ingredients are freshly shredded carrots, radish, pickled ginger, fried yam sticks, pomelo, jelly fish, coriander, freshly sliced raw salmon, crispy wanton skin, peanuts, sesame and topped with a fruit-based sauce. Every ingredient carries meaning and symbolises luck, wealth or health.
The ritual of eating Yu Sheng is very important in itself. In a celebration called Lo Hei, families and friends gather around the dining table and toss the ingredients in the air with chopsticks while shouting out auspicious wishes to usher in prosperity for the New Year.
You will also be able to order Yu Sheng takeaways if you want to enjoy this customary dish in the comfort of your own home.
Dumplings’ Legend in Chinatown
Dumplings’ Legend in Gerrard Street, known for its superb dim sum menu in the heart of Chinatown, has launched a selection of classic dumplings for wheat intolerant visitors in time for Chinese New Year.
Their Gluten Free dumpling basket is made up with four dumplings, including a classic Har Gau dumpling, Spinach and prawn dumpling, prawn celery and water chestnut dumpling and pak choi and prawn dumpling. This quartet of steamed parcels are served in a special square basket, priced at £7.90.
Bubblewrap Waffle in Chinatown
Bubblewrap Waffle in Wardour Street is celebrating Chinese New Year with their signature decadent bubble waffles, adding some limited editions and favourite flavours such as Black Sesame Gelato, Fresh Matcha Cream and Strawberry Mochi in lucky red.
Serge et Le Phoque in Fitzrovia
Serge et Le Phoque in The Mandrake Hotel is welcoming in Chinese New Year with a superb five-course tasting menu rooted in the traditions of China, showcasing their sophisticated menu alongside specific wine pairings for each course. The menu highlights include an amuse bouche of ‘Pork and Prawn Dumplings’ and ‘Salt and Pepper Mylor Prawn’. There is then a light starter of ‘Scallop with turnip, shitake, century egg and chilli’. The fish course is ‘Turbot, ginger, shallots and oyster mushrooms’, followed by ‘Salt baked Pork “Char siu”, Eggplant and Cucumber’. And for those of you with a sweet tooth, you can enjoy a selection of traditional Chinese deserts, including ‘Pomelo with Shiso’, ‘Jasmine Ice Cream with lychee, milk cookie’ and ‘Dacquoise’.
This special menu is available on Friday 16th February and Saturday 17th February and costs £75 per head.
Duddell’s in London Bridge
Recently opened Duddell’s in London Bridge which is housed in the beautifully restored grade II-listed St. Thomas Church, are launching their Lunar New Year Menu, which is available from today until 4th March 2018.
The menu showcases some of the best in Cantonese cuisine, including Duddells signature ‘Royal dim sum symphony’ and delicate dumplings filled with ‘Lobster and asparagus’ as well as ‘Spicy turbot and pickled chilli’ followed by mains designed for sharing like ‘Black cod with crispy radish and supreme soy’ and ‘Abalone with smoked chestnut and corn fed chicken toban’. You can also enjoy your meal with some Asian-inspired cocktails and dynamic wines.
The Lunar New Year menu costs £88 per person.
Blakes Hotel in Chelsea
Blakes Below Bar and lounge in the heart of Chelsea is place to visit when you want to transcend into a sophisticated world where East meets West. The bar was designed by interior designer Anouska Hempel and inspired by the Far East. The bar is open every Wednesday to Saturday from 7pm-midnight, exclusively to friends and guests of Blakes as well as residents of the hotel.
ICHBUNS in Soho
For those of you unfamiliar with ICHIBUNS in the heart of Chinatown, it is a Japanese-inspired dining concept and perhaps the ultimate destination to celebrate the Lunar New Year, serving a selection of Hokkaido-inspired cuisine, including a fabulous Wagyu beef burger and a selection of delicious fresh sushi.
The name is a play on the Japanese term ‘ichiban’ which literally translates as ‘Number One’. With its lively basement bar, creative cocktails and music, you can celebrate the start of the Chinese Year of the Dog in the ultimate Chinatown restaurant.
Copper Dog at The Whiskey Exchange and Waitrose
Whilst 2018 may be the Year of the Dog, it is also The Year of the Copper Dog, where to can celebrate Chinese New Year with a zingy Apple Dog Cocktail made with the juice of a whole fresh Granny Smith Apple and Copper Dog blended malt whiskey to welcome in the new year.
Copper Dog is an original blend of eight single malts with fruity flavours that move through the fresh, orchard, dried and citrus, with hints of vanilla and aromatic spices. It was inspired by Speyside and the Copper Dog pub at the Craigellachie Hotel in the Scottish Highlands and created to de-mystify the Scotch whisky market making it an approachable and enjoyable drink.
Copper Dog is available to purchase for £29.25 from Waitrose and online at The Whisky Exchange.
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.