Lunar New Year 2021: From seafood platters to Southeast Asian feasts in Vancouver

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      In several Asian countries, Lunar New Year is a traditional celebration, such as in China, South Korea, and Vietnam, while in other Asian countries, it isn’t a national holiday but is widely celebrated due to large ethnic populations from countries that do celebrate it.

      While numerous Asian eateries are offering specials for the festive occasion, numerous non-Asian establishments have joined in over the years. Where at one time in Vancouver, Lunar New Year was only celebrated within specific communities, it has since become much more widespread throughout the city.

      Here are just a few examples of that, including places you may not have considered or offerings that may be good for those looking for something modern or a bit different from traditional fare. 

      Fortune Terrace


      On the more traditional side of things, the Chinese Restaurant Awards (CRA) is presenting Dining for the Feast of Fortune 2021, which will raise funds for the new St. Paul’s Hospital at the Jim Pattison Medical Centre.

      Eight restaurants participating in this fundraiser, which began on February 8 and will continue until February 26, and will offer special menus (ranging from $38 to $100 per person) that cover a variety of cuisines such as Cantonese fine dining, Northern Chinese, Sichuan, Pan Asian, hot pot, vegetarian, Hong Kong-style casual dishes, and more.

      The participating restaurants are:

      • Bamboo Grove Restaurant;
      • Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine;
      • Heritage Asian Eatery;
      • Po Kong Vegetarian Restaurant;
      • The Fish Man;
      • Torafuku;
      • Joy Café;
      • Hotpot Palace.

      Items include Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine’s braised seafood bird’s nest soup; the Fish Man’s B.C. Dungeness crab and seafood rice; and Heritage Asian Eatery’s popular Peking duck two-course with abalone siu mai and golden garlic and black bean steamed B.C. oysters.

      Each establishment will donate $25 for each menu served (available for dining in or take-out). Gift certificates are also available.

      Full details and menus are available at the CRA website.

      Rich Won

      For those seeking to celebrate in Southeast Asian style, a special eight-course meal from Potluck Hawkery Eatery (3424 Cambie Street) is available until Sunday (February 14) for takeout only.

      “Each dish we’ve created for this menu has a symbolic meaning,” chef and co-owner Justin Cheung explained in a news release. “For example, the whole chicken represents togetherness and union of the whole family. Mushrooms are connected to growing fortunes, and the e-fu noodles symbolize long life.”

      The eight dishes of the Lunar Family Love Feast ($338, including taxes and serves four to six people) include:

      • seared albacore tuna and Dungeness crab yu sheng, with smoked salmon and an Asian slaw;
      • whole Hainanese chicken with truffled soy bean sauce;
      • whole two-pound chili lobster, braised in chili sauce, with e-fu noodles;
      • duck confit and Chinese sausage fried rice;
      • wok-fried sugar snap peas with tofu and eggplant;
      • hot and sour coconut soup of mushrooms;
      • aromatic Thai-style coconut broth with lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaf;
      • sea Salt gula melaka leche flan—a classic Filipino egg custard with Indonesian coconut palm sugar caramel;
      • golden steam buns with housemade kaya (coconut-pandan jam).

      As with this restaurant’s ever-popular special offerings, this one’s almost all booked up but there are a few spots still available for pick up on Sunday (February 14) by calling 604-423-9344 to pre-order.

      Gotham Steakhouse and Bar

      A Western-style steakhouse might not come to mind for the Lunar New Year, but the Gotham Steakhouse and Bar (615 Seymour Street) is serving a three-course meal until Monday (February 15), available for dining in, take-out, or delivery.

      The Lunar New Year Celebration ($99.50 per person) includes:

      • fresh seafood and glass noodles: jumbo prawns, scallops, mussels, langostino lobster, baby heirloom tomatoes, and cucumber with a sunomono-style vinaigrette;
      • braised short rib with an Asian pear-soy reduction, root vegetables, chestnuts, and shiitake mushrooms;
      • matcha crème brûlée with coconut tuile for dessert.
      FISH's chilled seafood platter
      Mark Yuen


      Fresh Ideas Start Here (FISH) (2959 West Broadway, Vancouver; 180-7515 Market Crossing, Burnaby) has launched some food kits for at-home meals available for pickup or delivery from February 12 to 15.

      Among them are chilled seafood platters (small $45, medium $75, or large $95) with seaweed salad, wild salmon spread, lemon, crackers, and pickled vegetables accompaniments while customers can also select fresh seafood items, including cooked Dungeness crab, cooked lobster tail, sashimi (sockeye, albacore tuna, ahi tuna, scallops), shrimp cocktail, octopus salad, squid salad, marinated clams and mussels, and salmon roulade. 

      FISH also offers a seafood hot pot kit ($68, serves two to three people) which includes miso, halibut broth, wild B.C. ling cod, wild B.C. coho salmon, wild red shrimp, fresh local oysters, local gallo mussels, and East Coast scallops.

      For full details and to order online, visit the FISH website

      Kinton Ramen's Longevity Ramen


      Because Japan adopted the Western solar calendar in the 1800s, the country doesn’t officially celebrate the Lunar New Year. But many traditions date back to former festivities and noodles are traditionally eaten in Japan for the new year as they symbolize long life.

      In Vancouver, Kinton Ramen (102–6111 University Boulevard) is serving a special bowl of noodles until February 28 (available for dine-in, take-out, or delivery).

      Longevity Ramen ($14.95) offers 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.

      The Victor's Ox Reviver


      To raise a glass to the new year, a new feature cocktail at the Victor (39 Smithe Street) will be available starting today (February 12) until February 28 is the Ox Reviver.

      It’s made with gin, kuei hua chen chiew, lychee, and lime.

      Bonus: each drink is served with a fortune cookie, with some that will have prizes that will be given out in red envelopes.

      Beaucoup Bakery's pandan mochi pistachio croissant
      Rich Won

      Baked goods

      This year, Beaucoup Bakery (2150 Fir Street) offered a special collection of baked goods from baker Betty Hung for Lunar New Year.

      While orders for those bundles have closed, there are items from the collection being sold by the piece.

      Today (February 12), the savoury Chinatown BBQ Peking Duck Croissant—consisting of pulled duck, hoisin sauce, scallions, truffle sauce, and honey—is available.

      Tomorrow (February 13), a pandan mochi pistachio croissant—featuring coconut pandan mochi, pistachio frangipane, and garnished with gold flakes, pistachios, and pandan powder—will be on offer.