Celebrating regional diversity this Lunar New Year (and the tasty Chinatown dishes from all over East and South East Asia!)
During this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations, we partnered on Instagram with a group of ESEA (East and South East Asian) Influencers, content creators and food enthusiasts to highlight how the Lunar New Year is celebrated across various regions across East and South East Asia, and taking a look at the special dishes on offer in Chinatown London. Here’s how they celebrated the Lunar New Year with their favourite dishes and unique cultural traditions.
“Lunar New Year is usually a time that is so special to me as it means I can be reunited with my family who live in Asia. Although this year has brought new challenges to celebrating, it’s an opportunity to embrace the positive qualities of the Ox in celebration of the Year of the Ox. By being strong, reliable and persevering through these tough times, we can all look forward to being reunited with our loved ones over lots of delicious food soon.”
Tiny Girl Eats World is from Malaysia. To make her feel closer to home and her family, she chose to order Yu Sheng from Rasa Sayang. Yu Sheng is a Cantonese-style salad, known as the prosperity toss, where you shout out wishes to usher in luck for the new year.
“This is all the kind of food I would have loved to be eating at the reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve with my family. It’s so lovely to see that you can still get this delivered!”
Growing up in Malaysia, Girl Eats In was also blessed to be able to celebrate Lunar New Year with traditions like Yee Sang or ‘Prosperity Toss’. For Lunar New Year she decided to recreate some of her favourite dishes from C&R Cafe at home. “We believe in eating whole fish and big seafood to symbolise prosperity and wealth!”
Girl Eats In made Sambal Prawns, Fish with a tamarind, hot and spicy sauce (Ikan Asam Pedas) and Morning Glory. “Another favourite of mine is Yolkin for a sweet treat! Their ice cream macarons with South East Asian flavours really take me home, especially when I tried the Milo Macaron!”
“Typically, for Lunar New Year my family eat Ddukgook #떡국 a traditional rice cake soup eaten at Seolal #설날 (New Year). You can find the ingredients and more Korean foods (as well as delicious snacks!) at Oseyo”
Hangukhapa took a trip with her Mother to Chinatown to see what delicious take-away and deliveries there are to offer whilst continuing to support ESEA communities in spirit of #StrongAsAnOx!
”First we visited Chinese Tapas House (15 Newport Street) for ‘Jiang Bing’, which is a delicious savoury Chinese crepe. I knew it was going to taste good by the size of the queue outside! I can safely say, it beats any sweet chocolate crepe I’ve ever had!”.
Next they visited Olle Barbecue (88 Shaftesbury Avenue) for a Korean feast. “This is a true taste of Korea in London! Every dish contained the right flavours to make it taste authentic and true to a Korean’s palette!”
“Growing up, my family did not fully follow all the Chinese traditions/ rituals as you would in Asia. Here are some of the traditions we did follow;
- Spring clean the house before the new year (fresh start)
- Buy new clothes (fresh start)
- Decorate the house, red lanterns and hang up red LNY wishes
- We don’t wash our hair on new year’s day (wash away good luck)
- Give (if married) / collect red envelopes (share the wealth with loved ones)
- Family reunion dinner with symbolic dishes i.e. dumplings for good wealth”
This year, Girl Eats LDN celebrated Lunar New Year at home. She enjoyed a Lunar New Year dinner from Dumplings Legend. Turnip Cake for prosperity, Sweet Glutinous Rice Cakes for higher income and great success, Roast Duck for fidelity, Fried Noodles for longevity and Vegetable Dumplings for wealth.
“I tried to come up with some flowery story about Chinatown but really, it’s just that simple, I miss it, everything about it. I miss the lanterns, the sounds, the smell…oh the smell! I miss it all! But I really miss the festivities around Lunar New Year! And I have been doing the parade route for as long as I can remember and we’ve really missed it this year.”
Celebrating a little differently this year, Tiff Cooks A Lot enjoyed some dishes from Leong’s Legend at home. “Leong’s Legend was one of, if not, the first place in London to offer soupy dumplings! In fact, I hosted a team dinner there many moons ago and introduced a whole table of westerners on how to properly eat XLB! I’ve always loved how the restaurant setting reminded me of scenes in old style Chinese dramas and for a brief moment, I feel like I’ve travelled back in time. ”
“The realities of growing up above a Chinese takeaway means family day outs are rare and far between. My parents worked 16-18 hour days whilst looking after me and my sisters – so my fondest childhood memories always surrounded Lunar New Year with our annual trip to Chinatown London. It was a day of rest for them and a way for us to all be together.”
Despite Lunar New Year being different this year, Dejashuu ordered dishes via delivery to enjoy from home instead. She ordered the Jinli special grilled Whole Seabass in Chilli Sauce (fish represents abundance), Sea Spiced Aubergine, Stir Fried Green Beans, Special Fried Rice and Kung Pao Chicken.
Normal years for Eat With Chantal would include visiting Chinatown and feasting on as many delights as she can stomach! This year, she enjoyed a Lunar New Year celebratory feast at home from Sakurado, Five Friends Desserts and Bun House.
“I got to try an array of sweet treats such as a lucky parcel which was a sweet mini sponge cake with layers of delicate strawberry cream and fruit. I also got to try traditional Chinese sweet soups, my first time trying black sesame rice balls in ginger soup and it was so heart-warming and brought me comfort! I also tried Five Friends Desserts purple yam silken tofu pudding which instantly transported me back to the Philippines! It’s similar to a dish we have called Taho which I made recently. I just love how food brings you closer to cultures and makes you feel connected, even though we are so far!”
“This year, my Lunar New Year looked pretty different to the usual magnitude of family reunion dinners, but thankfully Plum Valley was more than happy to provide those key symbolic reunion dinner staples!”
On the table at Yumm3i’s home was Salty Egg Yolk Deep-fried King Prawns, Stir-fried Black Pepper Rib-eye Beef, Deep-fried Seabass in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Stir-fried Kai Lan with three types of wild mushrooms, New Year Custard Buns and Special Fried Rice.
“I was so blessed to have both sides of my family near me this Lunar New Year, so I got to eat all the traditional foods including, Glutinous New Year Cake, Turnip Cake, Sticky Rice Cake & Dumplings & many more.”
Winnie Foodie Moments also ordered her favourite takeaway from Bun House. She ordered Custard Bun which represents unity and family togetherness, Pig Bun, Chu Hou Beef Brisket Rice which represents fertility, luck and wealth and Wok Fried Cheung Fun, representing longevity.
What Lunar New Year dishes or indeed regional specialities did you enjoy over the festive period? Let us know on social media by tagging @chinatownlondon and using the hashtag #StrongAsAnOx.< Go Back To Year of the Ox