Gung Hay Fat Choy or Gong Xi Fa Cai! One way to celebrate this traditional Chinese holiday is to have a delicious meal. It doesn’t have to be in a Chinese restaurant, but that is one option for many diners. This is an auspicious day for many traditional and non-traditional Asian families. It is well known that the Chinese culture loves to eat and share food. For a taste of Chinese New Year, Kirin Restaurant is an excellent choice.
For more traditional Chinese families there are a number of activities you can do, such as thoroughly clean your house, light firecrackers and/or give money in red envelopes for good luck. Eating out in a nice restaurant is more fun though! This is the Year of the Horse. The Horse sign is known as energetic, bright, warm hearted and able.
Lets get to celebrating the new year by eating! There are a number of Chinese dishes that have significance at this time. In our case, we chose to celebrate with friends by ordering dishes that appeal to our tastes and preferences.
Of course, first up is a soup dish. Assorted Seafood and Egg White Soup is spooned by the server from a large tureen into smaller bowls for each guest. The perfect temperature of the soup with the seafood flavours combine well with the egg white. The textures are interesting as well as they range from silky smooth to the smaller harder vegetable bits. And there’s lots of seafood.
Moo Shu Pork is a dish that is unusual as it comes with crepes to eat the pork with. Basically, you take a crepe from the steamer basket and spread on some hoisin sauce (a thick, black, garlicky, pungent sauce that is both sweet and salty). Then, you use your chopsticks to place a decent amount of the Moo Shu Pork on the crepe. Turn one side over onto the other side like a burrito and voila, you eat with your hands. With the hoisin sauce, this is a real favourite. Again, many different textures and the seasoned pork, noodles and vegetables really combine well.
A balanced meal includes vegetables. The Buddhist Feast provides colour, texture and taste, and is strictly a vegetarian dish as described by the name. It comes with lots of broccoli, bok choy, small corn, carrots, Chinese mushrooms and other vegetables sautéed in a light sauce. It’s perfect for the vegetarian and gluten free eaters.
The Deep Fried Crispy Chicken Skin is another dish that appeals to North American and Asian tastes. To really fulfill the flavours within the skin and the chicken, add some salt (mixture of salt and peppercorns) that will be located next to the serving dish. The crispy skin is so flavourful and the chicken meat is tender and juicy. The shrimp chips add some texture and are fun to eat. The portions are very easy to pick up for the average chopstick user. For Chinese New Year, the whole chicken symbolizes family togetherness.
This dish can be titled Love Bird Fried Rice or Honeymoon Fried Rice. It is very colourful and really is two dishes combined into one. A yin and yang design. Creamy white sauce on one side and tangy tomato sauce on the other side. You can combine the flavours on your dish or keep them separate. It is a traditional Chinese dish served at weddings, but is worthy of being served on any occasion. It may or may not be on the menu, so you might need to ask for it.
The Honey Ginger Beef dish was another huge hit. It comes with small cookie-shaped pieces of steamed Chinese style bread. The marinated beef was tender and very tasty and, like many Chinese dishes, had a balance of sweet and savoury flavours. Another easy pickup with chopsticks.
The favourite dish of the majority of our table was the Stir Fried Prawns in Black Bean Sauce. The prawns were prepared so well that they were the ideal texture and taste. The Chinese word for prawns sounds like laughter so the dish is associated with happiness and joy. The salty black bean sauce really combines with the prawns and the generous amount of onions. This dish disappeared very quickly!
Time for a couple of desserts to finish the night! This dessert is Lychee on ice. Lychee is symbolic of money and prosperity – so a great dish for Chinese New Year. If you’ve never tried one, the flavours are a cross between a grape and a pear. Very sweet, but not too sweet. The taste is clean and you can use the spoon to divide it into edible portions.
The last dessert was a Sesame Rice Bowl with Peanuts/Sugar. This soft and sticky rice flour dough is topped with sprinkled crushed peanuts and sugar. Inside is an inky black sweetened sesame paste. The texture is very unusual and the first tastes are very different for the average North American eater. It is more of an acquired taste that can be enjoyed at the conclusion of your meal.
Finding a reservation for Chinese New Year day can be a challenge. You can celebrate Chinese New Year earlier in the day or the next day as options. Kirin Restaurant has a great reputation and has a number of locations in the lower mainland. Try to bring some small red envelopes for your friends and family and put in a coin for good luck.
201 City Square, 555 West 12th Avenue
City Square Mall, Vancouver, BC
Phone Number: 604-879-8038
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10:30 p.m.