How to Celebrate Lunar New Year with Food and Drink in New Orleans

Lunar New Year – also known as Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, Tet Nguyen Dan and Seollal – officially begins on Tuesday, February 1, kicking off the Year of the Tiger. For many communities and countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia, including China, Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan, the Lunar New Year is the most important celebration of the year. While traditions may vary by country, the key themes of luck, fortune, happiness and prosperity are depicted in the gold and red colors of the holiday, in ceremonial gifts and in traditional dishes – dishes like niángāo or sticky rice cake; luóbo gāo, or turnip pancakes; and lo hei, a traditional Cantonese dish with raw fish as the centerpiece.

Since food is the cornerstone of Lunar New Year celebrations, we’ve rounded up a handful of ways to celebrate in 2022 with New Orleans food and drink, from baked goods to pop-up menus, and a virtual cooking class. Here is a lucky and prosperous Year of the Tiger.

Did we miss a festive way to ring in Lunar New Year 2022? Let us know.

Cook with Chef Nini Nguyen

Originally from New Orleans and season 16 Excellent chef Contestant Nini Nguyen is currently teaching (affordable) virtual cooking classes from New York and New Orleans, and in honor of the Lunar New Year, she’s devoting a class to caramelized pork with eggs, a dish commonly eaten by Vietnamese families at this time of year. Tune in to learn the art of Kho (caramelizing/braising), how to cook rice, and how to steam eggs on Sunday, January 30 at 6 p.m., for $50 per household. See details and buy tickets here.

Dragon Dance at Beard Papa

The New Orleans branch of Japanese-born bakery chain Beard Papa’s invites its (many) loyal fans to stop by the Magazine Street store on Sunday, January 30 at 1 p.m. for a Lunar New Year celebration, with a dragon dance and cream puff special flavors to include kidney beans and salted egg yolk and coconut – buy five cream puffs, get one free. A perfect Lunar New Year outing for kids.

Get Your Mommy and Pop Up Dim Sum

One of the main food components of Chinese New Year is citrus fruits, especially tangerines and kumquats, the latter being a New Orleans staple – they litter the sidewalks at this time of year. The inventive dim sum pop-up Get Your Mom and Dim Sum, which makes appearances at Miel Brewery, Second Line Brewing, Oak Street Brewery, Zony Mash Beer Project and Urban South throughout the week, is cooking up something special in honor of tradition – of course using kumquats. The new dish, as teased in an Instagram post, is set to launch next week, so check out the pop-up’s delicious timeline here and follow it on Instagram to see how they’re using the fruit to stage a prosperous New Year.

Dinner at Luvi

There are still a few seats left for Luvi’s special Year of the Tiger dinner – a restaurant where the price often associated with special tasting menus is certainly worth it. The Uptown restaurant is serving a three-course dinner (with two drinks) on Tuesday, February 1 at 7 p.m., for $150 per person. Menu details are available if you inquire via email, but unless you have dietary restrictions we recommend going blind – Chef Hao Gong’s treatment of Shanghai specialties and preparations of raw fish is always remarkable. See here for tickets.

Candy from Wishing Town Bakery

Of course, New Orleans’ most exciting Asian bakery and market can be counted on for festive Lunar New Year treats that are always as beautiful as they are delicious. Lunar New Year cakes and special royal cakes feature the colors red (representing luck, fortune, and happiness) and gold (wealth and prosperity); call Wishing Town at Metairie or go online to buy one or order egg yolk puff pastry gift sets.

Tet Festival

Celebrate Tết Nguyên Đán – or First Day First Morning Feast (or simply Tết) at the annual New Orleans Tet Fest, the free celebration held February 4-6 at Mary Queen of Vietnam Church. Food including sticky rice cakes, spring rolls, banh mi and pho will be available for purchase alongside fireworks and a dragon dance.

Looking for fine New Orleans restaurants or a place to chat about your favorite eateries? To rejoin Eater NOLA Facebook Group.

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