It could be because I lived in Chinatown for many years or that I have a passion for Asian food and culture but I love when Chinese New Year arrives each year. I enjoyed the festive atmosphere out in the streets, the colorful decorations lining the streets and parks, the fact that it was the only time the neighborhood shut down in order to celebrate. (You can read an old article I wrote here for the Boston Globe.)
My daughter Sabrina loves it, too, perhaps because she lived there until she was 2 1/2 when we moved to charming Brooklyn. We used to look out our window at the parade and the groups of people dressed in dragon costumes who walked by playing their drums and cymbals.
Two years ago we went to Kelly & Ping in SoHo, where they had a kids’ festival, with face painting, a magic show and of course food for the little ones and their parents. I hope they have it again this year.
We also went to MOCA, the Museum of the Chinese in America, a beautiful, industrial museum where she learned to write her name in calligraphy. You might also like to visit the exhibit: Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion at the New-York Historical Society.
At MOCA, we bought the book: Dim Sum for Everyone, which is a favorite at bedtime.
Speaking of dim sum. My friend swears by Jing Fong, so I am going to have to try it ASAP—this weekend perhaps?
Other restaurants you might want to visit: Talde in Park Slope, which has the most amazing Pad Thai ever: their version contains Bacon and Oysters (swoon!), plus their famous pretzel-chive dumplings will make you want to return again and again. (My daughter loves these, too.) Or TAO Uptown serves dim sum on Sundays, plus they have one of the best prix-fixe lunches in town, with a chocolate zen parfait as one of the dessert choices.
Last week we picked up some decorations at Pearl River Mart, one of my favorite stores for all their fun gifts. Since it’s the year of the sheep, my daughter got a sheep to hang up in her room.
You can read about the year of the sheep here.
To cook at home, you might want to try Rachel Khoo’s Szechuan-style spicy cumin beef tacos, homemade mochi from Food52, or these 10 favorite Chinese recipes from Food and Wine. Or, learn to cook stir fries and fried rice in a wok with Ching-He Huang.
Each year Chinatown has a parade in honor of the New Year. This year the parade is being held on February 21, at 1pm. More details here.
Whether you cook, eat out or attend an event, Happy New Year!