Just when it’s about time to stop wishing everyone a Happy New Year, the Lunar New Year arrives and the celebrations start all over again.
Just about time too, our February is needing a little extra excitement. Falling on the 10th February, the Lunar New Year marks the first new moon of the lunar calendar and is the most important annual celebration in China and many communities around the world.
To welcome in the New Year, some of London’s top restaurants and bars are playing host for a few weeks only, ranging from six-course feasting menus at Canton Blue to signature ‘dragon’ cocktails at Chinatown’s underground bars.
This year is the Year of the Dragon symbolising luck, strength and health, so cheers to that. On that note, here’s how to celebrate Chinese New Year in London.
Aromatic and vibrant for every single one of your senses, Speedboat is the Chinatown restaurant by Luke Farrell where each dish is packed with a variety of Southeast Asian spices grown in his own greenhouses in Dorset. To celebrate the Lunar New Year, a selection of delicious dishes will be available, alongside the already mouth-watering menu, for two weeks only. This includes the Khao Muu Daeng Muu Grob featuring Speedboat’s signature roasted meats (crispy pork belly and red roast pork) in a savoury gravy as well as Yam Pla Salmon, a zesty salmon ceviche with a chilli, lime and wasabi dressing. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu too. To accompany the fun, flavour-packed dishes, Luke Farrell has matched the energy of his food in an exciting-sounding cocktail the King Colada, described as a tropical cocktail blending Santiago de Cuba rum, coconut, pineapple, durian fruit, lime and sparkling wine. With delicious food, the colourful interiors, and the laid-back vibe, Speedboat guarantees a fun evening of celebrating.
Canton Blue at The Peninsula
The ground floor of Belgravia’s five-star luxury hotel, The Peninsula, is home to Canton Blue, the Chinese restaurant specialising in authentic Cantonese food. The fine dining restaurant is carefully decorated to represent the trade relationships between China and Britain during the 19th century, with yellow, blue, and red displays of Cantonese porcelain becoming feature walls as well as low-lit tables and two private dining rooms – The Silk Room and The Music Room. Though it’s not just style Canton Blue brings from the east of the world to the west, but great food too. This February, Canton Blue will offer a special six course Lunar New Year Set Menu delicately designed by Executive Chef Dicky To. Expect steamed crab and scallop dumplings, drunken chicken with goji berries, steamed lobster with ginger and a firecracker cake with black sesame and mandarin compote for dessert. Let the festive feasting begin.
Also at The Peninsula, the adjoining Little Blue bar will serve three celebratory cocktails by Director of Mixology Florian Thireau including the floral Blossom and Damson, a twist on the well-loved digestif, Negroni.
Chai Wu at Harrod's
Harrod’s is London’s hotspot for everything that falls within the luxury lifestyle realm including fashion, interiors and of course, food and drink. On the fifth floor is Harrod’s longest lasting residency, Chai Wu where London’s finest pan-Asian dining is served up boasting plenty of signature dishes such as the crispy Bejinh duck carved table side. The restaurant’s food and design (including the open kitchen) takes inspiration from the five elements of Chinese philosophy – wood, metal, water, earth, and fire and for the Chinese New Year, five specials have been added to the menu. For prosperity, opt for the traditional Lo Hei also known as the “prosperity toss” (fresh salmon and shredded vegetables topped with a gold leaf), or perhaps the Dragon Roll made with flame-grilled eel and fresh avocado. End with the Dragon Fruit Petit Gâteau for the Year of the Dragon. Where better to celebrate prosperity, health, and good fortune.
Dim Sum Terrace at Harrod's
Also in Harrod’s, just a floor below Chai Wu on the fourth floor is The Dum Sum Terrace, and here, the menu focuses on Dim sum, meaning a spread of Cantonese dishes to share in order to “recreate fond memories” through food. For Chinese New Year, it’s all about the dumplings. Not just your average dumplings though, at The Dum Sum Terrace the handmade delicacies are filled with lobster, fried and then topped with caviar. Also on the menu are the Eight Treasure Money Bag Dumplings for wealth and prosperity, packed with steamed vegetables. Make sure to try the traditional Chinese teas and wine list on the heated terrace overlooking one of London’s finest boroughs.
Pan Pacific London x Bun House Lunar Afternoon Tea
If you’re looking to get in the festive spirit without indulging in a full dinner, then Pan Pacific London’s collaboration with Bun House sounds perfect for you. For their Lunar Afternoon Tea, the Shoreditch-based hotel has partnered up with the acclaimed Cantonese Bun House to serve a selection of sweet and savoury buns by Executive Pastry Chef Francesco Mannino and Bun House’s Co-Founder and Chef Z He. This limited edition Afternoon Tea offers the show-stopping and luxury value of the Pan Pacific’s traditional menu as the tea starts with a gourmet siu mai basket (think lobster and scallop rolls) re-vamped with ingredients symbolic of luck in Chinese culture. This includes the signature lamb and bamboo shoot through to the Mandarin filled with custard for dessert. Of course a rich array of teas and plenty of bubbles accompany the selection.
Duke of York Market, Chelsea
A favourite on the weekend to-do list for residents all over London, whether west-London based or not, the Duke of York market has plenty of local, independent makers and food stalls serving dishes from around the world. On Saturday 10th February to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Chelsea will host a Chinese-edition of the well-loved market featuring delicious Chinese dishes alongside a vibrant entertainment programme. On the line-up are dragon dancers, lion performances and Chinese drummers. Open 11am to 4pm, we’re not sure a Saturday afternoon could get much more exciting than this.
A gem in Mayfair, Park Chinois is an opulent Asian restaurant that goes beyond just serving incredible, Chinese dishes. Experiential and animated, Park Chinois brings the glamour and festivities of 1930s Shanghai to London with the relaxed dining atmosphere at the ground floor Salon de Chine and the lively lower ground Club Chinois, both drenched in Jacques Garcia’s rich interior design from red velvet draping to gold pillars. Expect the drama to only increase for the Chinese New Year as eleven days of immersive entertainment arrives including traditional Lion Dance, Chinese Drumming to accompany the in-house live band and special guests. There is a similar sensory feast A La Carte with Wok-Fried Abalone and Park Chinois’ Eight Treasure Roasted Suckling Piglet available to pre-order. Make sure to book in advance as Park Chinois is bound to be popular.
MiMi Mei Fair
MiMi Mei Fair knows how to put on a show, and it’s doing just that for the Lunar New Year. Two wishing trees (a beautiful array of foliage from medinilla, anthurium, baby’s breath and hydrangeas adorned with traditional Hong Bao – red envelopes full of wishes – and ornate gilded cages) will hang floor to ceiling in both the parlour and drawing room. Underneath this beautiful display, a Basket of Wealth kick starts the festive dining with three styles of dim sum alongside Rock oysters and steam XO okra. The appetisers are followed by two further, and as equally inviting, courses each perfectly paired with servings of the newly released, limited edition Courvoisier XO cognac to welcome the new year in style.
Andrew Wong x Dom Pérignon
Two-Michelin star chef Andrew Wong is hosting a special dinner on Thursday 8th with Dom Perignon, which is none other than an exclusive 30-dish banquet dining experience paired with Dom Pérignon Vintages. The dishes will traverse China’s 14 international borders spanning 3000 years of culinary techniques through history: delicious, innovative and informative all at once. Meticulous research, creme-de-la-creme style craftsmanship and ancient recipes all come to play at this truly once in a lifetime type of dining experience. Book your tickets to ‘The Collections of China’ now, while they are still available.
Cocktails at Opium Bar
While consistently ranked in the UK’s top 50 cocktail bars, this 1920s Shanghai themed speakeasy is reserved for Londoners in the know. Hidden behind a secret door in Chinatown, Opium is one of London’s hidden gems and an excellent place to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Opium has created three innovative, limited edition cocktails this February, in collaboration with loved Baijiu company Ming River. Dragon themed of course, the menu features the Dragon Spritz with Ming River Baijiu, Campari bitter, passion fruit, and orange liquor, the Red Dragon River with rose and lemon and the Ming Fashioned. Book for an intimate and fun night of celebrating.