It's almost time to begin the Year of the Ox. Lunar New Year officially falls on Feb. 12, kicking off one heck of a long weekend that also happens to include Valentine's Day and B.C.'s Family Day holiday on Monday, Feb. 15. And what better time to get to some feasting and treat-eating? Luckily, the Lunar New Year is celebrated for a 16-day stretch...so get out those stretchy pants.
Though you and your household bubble may already have a traditional way to celebrate the Lunar New Year with some home cooking or with food from a favourite restaurant, there are a number of places in Vancouver that are offering tantalizing treats and elegant feasts to enjoy. The tempting goodies range from boxes of cookies and pastries to fresh seafood platters you can assemble at home to traditional complete meals for sharing.
What are the symbolic foods of Lunar New Year?
Some hallmarks of Lunar New Year eating include several symbolic foods. For example, eating seafood is thought to bring prosperity, while eating "Longevity Noodles" - plates of long strands of noodles - is said to bring happiness and a long life to its eaters.
In Vancouver, the Lunar New Year menu at Street Auntie features sweet rice dumplings, which represents family togetherness. You'll find lots of heaping bowls and plates of Longevity Noodles locally, too, like at Heritage Asian Eatery and Potluck Hawker. At Potluck Hawker, their take-out only Lunar New Year meal begins with the lively Malaysian and Singaporean tradition of Yu Sheng, also called a Prosperity Toss, followed by plates of classic symbolic dishes, such as whole Hainanese chicken, lobster, fried rice, and soup.
“Yu Sheng really brings the whole family together, and it’s fun for everyone,” explains Justin Cheung, co-owner and chef of Potluck Hawker Eatery. “Raw fish is used because it represents abundance. I used to do the toss with my family growing up - it was a tradition. You can get as messy and loud as you want! The more you toss, the more good luck it brings. We all need some hilarity during times like this, and we hope our Lunar New Year menu will bring some joy, luck, and happiness to people’s dinner tables.”
There will be plenty of raw fish at Vancouver spots like Minami, and the seafood shop Fresh Ideas Start Here (FISH) even has a festive seafood platter you can put together at home.
“We specifically designed our seafood platters and kits to be interactive, fun, and easy to put together,” explains Jenice Yu, owner of Fresh Ideas Start Here. “With Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, and Family Day all on the same weekend, they work well for so many occasions and can be enjoyed in the comforts of your own home or gifted to your friends, family, loved ones, and gal pals.”
Look for some unique ingredients and collaborations
While we can't get together with people in person like usual this year, some Vancouver businesses are collaborating to create unusual and exciting seasonal treats. Beaucoup Bakery has teamed up with Chinatown BBQ for one of the bakeshop's Lunar New Year items: a Peking Duck Croissant.
“This year, although Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day are on the same weekend, they are unique on their own, so we definitely wanted to create treats to honour each celebration,” says Betty Hung, who co-owners Beaucoup Bakery with her brother Jacky. “For Lunar New Year, we are using a lot of Asian ingredients, such as sesame, walnuts, and mochi, as well as a croissant take on our favourite Peking Duck! We are thrilled to collaborate with our friends at Chinatown BBQ."
Ready to order up some Lunar New Year eats and treats across Metro Vancouver? While this isn't an exhaustive list, we do have some highlights showcasing some of the city's top foods to enjoy as we usher in the Year of the Ox. Gung hay fat choy!
Beaucoup Bakery’s Lucky 88 Collection is available for pre-orders online. It comes in a bundle for $50.88 with two red pockets with golden chocolate feves and features: A Lunar New Year Cookie Tin with 18 pieces in a 7” gold colour tin filled with brown butter walnut cookies, sesame toffee cookies, and genmaicha almond butter cookies made with Paragaon Tea Room’s premium tea powder; a savoury Chinatown BBQ Peking Duck Croissant made of pulled duck, hoisin sauce, scallions, truffle sauce and honey; and a Pandan Mochi Pistachio Croissant with coconut pandan mochi, pistachio frangipane, and garnished with gold flakes, pistachios, and pandan powder.
A new dining event that will mark the Lunar New Year is a great opportunity to eat delicious food from some of Vancouver's top Asian restaurants while supporting a worthy cause. Called Dining for the Feast of Fortune, the new dining series comes from the team at the Chinese Restaurant Awards and is raising funds for the future of health care – new St. Paul’s at the Jim Pattison Medical Centre. Diners will find exclusive lunch and dinner menus at several local restaurants available for dine-in or take-out from Monday, February 8 through Sunday, February 21. Menus and more details are available online.
To celebrate the Year of the Ox, Heritage Asian Eatery will offer special dishes of Mandarin Salted Egg Yolk Buns that symbolizes fullness and fortune for $7 per order, Longevity Noodles with shiitake and winter chanterelles for $18 as well as Golden Garlic and Black Bean Steamed B.C. Fanny Bay Oysters for $9 per order of two. In addition, every dine-in or take-out order placed at its Broadway location will include a traditional red envelope that offers the chance to win complimentary dishes or discounts for future visits, with one ‘golden ticket’ available that will bestow a Heritage Family Feast for Four to Six to one lucky recipient. The special Lunar New Year Feature Dishes are available Feb. 11-26 for dine-in or take-out by calling the restaurant at 604-559-6058.
This online meat delivery company in Vancouver is offering two special meat boxes to ring in the Year of the Ox. Named Fortune & Prosperity, and Wealth & Abundance, the two meat boxes feature products including Sablefish Steaks, where fish symbolizes wealth and abundance; Whole Chicken, a symbol for togetherness and wholesomeness; and White Prawns, of which the Cantonese name resembles laughter. Since it’s the Year of the Ox, customers will also find Striploin or Wagyu Ribeye in the boxes. Additionally, Bring Home The Bacon has paired with Gary’s Patisserie, another local small business, to include its Red Velvet Cake in-a-Jar in each box. Priced at $88 and $188, each box includes a $25 Bring Home The Bacon gift card, while The Wealth & Abundance Box has a bonus gift to celebrate the new year as well. Only a limited quantity of these meat boxes are available and pre-order is required by Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021 for delivery on February 9-11.
Faubourg's Lunar New Year cake (Honey Sesame Mousse, Pineapple Crémeux; Chrysanthemum Gelée; Sablé Breton; $48 – 7” size serving up to 6 people ) is available at both Vancouver stores or order online from February 2 to 21. Faubourg's individual pastry version of the cake ($7.25) is available in shops from February 11-18.
Potluck Hawker Eatery is celebrating Lunar New Year with special eight-course feast. The Lunar Family Love Feast is $338 and serves four to six people. Available from February 11 to 14, 2021 for takeout only, the meal begins with the lively Malaysian and Singaporean tradition of Yu Sheng, also called a Prosperity Toss, followed by plates of classic symbolic dishes, such as whole Hainanese chicken, lobster, fried rice, and soup. The lucky eight dishes include: Albacore Tuna & Dungeness Crab Yu Sheng; Whole Hainanese Chicken with Truffled Soy Bean Sauce; Whole Chili Lobster with E-fu Noodles; Duck Confit & Chinese Sausage Fried Rice; Wok Fried Sugar Snap Peas with Tofu & Eggplant; Hot & Sour Coconut Soup of Mushrooms; Sea Salt Gula Melaka Leche Flan; and Golden Steam Buns with Housemade Kaya.
Celebrate Chinese New Year with one of these lucky Take Home Feasts available now through Feb. 11. Choose between a Good Luck Feast for 2 ($38), a Blessings Feast for 4 ($68), or a Happiness Feast for 6 ($88). Available for curbside restaurant pick-up between now and Feb.11. Order on the website or by phone at 604-428-2626. Get all the details of what delicious BBQ eats are in each set via Chinatown BBQ's Instagram.
Downtown Vancouver's Street Auntie is offering its Chinese New Year dinner experience ($108 / person) and lunch experience ($68 / person) from Feb. 3-13. Welcome the Year of the Ox with themed courses like Fulfilment (Chicken pepper xiao long bao, uni dumpling, and morel siu-mai); Luck (Abalone and sun-dried oyster); and Bounty (Fried sticky rice) among others.
The Buddha of Compassionate Love is East Van Roasters annual expression of gratitude for being a part of the historic Chinatown and Japantown neighbourhoods and a reaffirmation of its ongoing commitment to continue serving its Downtown Eastside community. This year, Buddha is filled with lemon pâte de fruit layered with East Van Roasters Sultana coffee ganache and toasted buckwheat. The treat is priced at $5 and is available now at East Van Roasters (319 Carrall St) and online with pickup and shipping options available. Legends Haul customers can add a Buddha to their grocery delivery starting the week of Feb. 1.
Fresh Ideas Start Here (FISH), British Columbia’s purveyor of fresh, sustainable seafood, has launched several new DIY Seafood Platters and Kits, just-in-time for February’s celebration weekend. Available for delivery or pickup from February 12-15, seafood lovers can preorder the Caviar Kit, FISH Valentine’s Day Chilled Seafood Platters, Bouillabaisse Kit, and Smoked Uni Shooter & Handroll Kit to enjoy at home.
The UBC noodle shop is celebrating and welcoming Lunar New Year with a special ramen feature: Longevity Ramen (Thick noodles in spicy miso chicken broth topped with seasoned ground pork, deep-fried tofu, seasoned egg, wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions, radish, cilantro and onion ginger oil). This feature is $14.95 and available for dine-in, takeout and delivery from February 1 to 28.
The downtown Vancouver steakhouse is offering a Lunar New Year Celebration for $99.50 per person, exclusive of tax & gratuity. The meal includes Fresh Seafood & Glass Noodles (Jumbo prawns, scallops, mussels, langostino lobster, baby heirloom tomatoes and cucumber with a Sunomono-style vinaigrette); Braised Short Rib (with Asian pear-soy reduction, root vegetables, chestnuts and shiitake mushrooms); and a Matcha Crème Brûlée with coconut tuille. Order for take-out or delivery or for dine-in.
Indulge in the Ox Chocolate Showpiece for Lunar New Year from Temper Chocolate & Pastry. This limited-edition treat is made with dark and white chocolate with gold coins added to the base. It is $35 each and available now at the West Vancouver bakeshop.
Sip the Lunar New Year Cocktail Feature at The Victor. Called The Ox Reviver, it's made with gin, Kuei Hua Chen Chiew, lychee, and lime. Available Feb 12 - 28, each cocktail will come with a fortune cookie, some that will have prizes which will then be given out in red envelopes.
Available February 12 to 14, 2021, enjoy an elevated meal at home for two with the Kaede Bento or experience exceptional service and candlelight ambience with exclusive a la carte surf and turf menu items at the Yaletown restaurant. Minami’s Kaede Bento ($125) for two is only available for take-out and is available for pre-order online via Tock. Its sushi course features a signature selection of aburi sushi, such as salmon oshi sushi, ebi oshi sushi, and saba oshi sushi, Champagne Roll, negitoro maki, and aka ebi nigiri; an Appetizer Duo of Asahi Black Hatcho, Miso Short Rib Gyoza, Ebi Fritters, Nanohana Goma-ae, and Tsukemono; an Entree Duo with Aburi Butler Steak and Chicken Ballotine; and Dessert Selection of Caramel Espresso Choux à la Crème, Green Tea Opera, and seasonal mignardises. For dine-in guests, a la carte specials include: Kaisen Platter ($150) for two; Premium Surf & Turf Entree ($180) for two; and Caramel Espresso Choux à la Crème ($15) by pastry chef Nikki Tam.
This February, social enterprise Cà Phê Vietnamese Coffee House (Cà Phê) is celebrating luck and love with the release of limited edition Lunar New Year treat boxes. Available for pre-order, the boxes add a bit of tradition and nostalgia to the popular annual event. Cà Phê’s limited edition Lunar New Year Lucky Treat Boxes come in two sizes, small for $68.88 and large for $88.88. Each red and gold gift box contains: One lì xì (red envelopes) filled with Vietnamese đồng (paper bills) - a custom arising from the tradition of using coins as gifts to ward off evil spirits, especially any lingering ones from 2020; Traditional “fortune candies” from Vietnam that symbolize wealth, happiness, and luck, including candied lotus seeds for abundance, special lucky candies for fortune, and candied coconut to promote togetherness and strong family ties; A bag of Cà Phê Vietnamese Coffee House coffee beans and phin for positive energy.
This Vancouver charcuterie company is doing large and mini Lunar New Year boxes, packed with meat, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, and treats, along with some lucky chocolate gold coins. Order online via DM on Instagram.
The Baking Kaoru
The Baking Kaoru has released a special limited edition Lunar New Year menu. All their treats are freshly baked with butter and with no additives, preservatives, and food colouring. Their ’Ox’picious Cookie Box contains six salted egg yolk cookies; six black sesame cookies; six walnut coconut cookies; six matcha white chocolate shortbread cookies; and six sugar cookies. Lots of other treats are available for pick-up or delivery as well; check their Instagram for all the ordering details.