The ushering in of the Year of the Tiger was on February 1, and was a joyous and festive time for the Chinese community in the Lower Mainland characterized by time spent with family and friends and, of course, by copious delicious feasting.
Who doesn’t love a good hearty meal? Chinese New Year is an opportunity for everyone to partake in holiday eating, most especially dishes that will, hopefully, improve success in the coming lunar year. Richmond, as a confluence of various Chinese cuisines, offers many culinary opportunities for celebrating Year of the Tiger well into 2022. Here are 8 luck-magnet dishes that will appeal to your palate and your fortunes throughout the year:
A particularly significant dish for Chinese New Year consists of a whole fish; its associations with unity and good fortune make it a centrepiece item. A whole steamed rock cod at Shiang Garden Seafood Restaurant (2200-4540 Number 3 Road, Richmond) is a seemingly simple, yet lovely dish that really highlights the freshness and subtle flavour of the fish.
Because spring rolls resemble gold bars, they are a popular food item for encouraging wealth in your life – plus their deep fried crispiness makes them undeniably enjoyable to eat. While these tasty snacks can be found on most dim sum menus, chef May Chau at Golden Paramount (8071 Park Road, Richmond) has created an inventive version you have to try that has juicy shredded daikon filling.
Dumplings signal wealth in Chinese traditions, and the more of them you eat, the more prosperous you’ll be. In other words, you have full license to gorge on dumplings during the New Year festivities! Richmond has an almost endless selection of dumplings, as evidenced by its Dumpling Trail self-guided itineraries. A classic type is shui jiao, water boiled dumplings filled with ingredients like pork, prawns, shiitake mushroom, and chives. Especially good shui jiao can be gobbled at Golden Sichuan (170-3631 Number 3 Road, Richmond). These dumplings are definitely hearty and very addictive.
Another dish aimed to bolster happiness in the New Year consists of Shangainese savoury chewy pan-fried rice cakes or nian gao. A sweet pudding-type version of nian gao is also available at establishments like Saint Germain Bakery (Aberdeen Centre, 1428-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond). In Mandarin, the name nian gao is a homonym for “higher” or “taller” year, making this item particularly lucky. You’ll find them at most Shanghainese restaurants in Richmond, such as at Shanghai Wonderful (Best Western Plus Abercorn Inn, 9260 Bridgeport Road, Richmond), which serves a rendition with spinach, chopped cabbage, and shredded pork.
A dish that appears frequently on Chinese New Year menus consists of braised dried oysters with Chinese mushrooms and sea moss, with a particularly impressive version found at Fisherman’s Terrace (Aberdeen Centre, 3580-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond). The item is a showcase of lucky ingredients. Dried oysters are said to aid in bolstering business, while the name for sea moss (fat choy) is a homonym for “good fortune.”
A feast isn’t complete without a plate of lobster, which symbolizes abundance and prosperity, especially with its red lucky colour. Bring the family for a lobster set menu dinner at Empire Seafood Restaurant (5951 No. 3 Road, Richmond).
The spherical shape of pomelos and other citrus fruits, like oranges, signal wholeness and prosperity. The name for pomelo, you, also sounds similar to “to have” or “you,” which gives it further prosperity associations. Wild Sweets (2145-12191 Hammersmith Way, Richmond), run by world acclaimed science-based chocolatiers Dominque and Cindy Duby, released a Chinese New Year “Money Cake” with cold set golden fruits (mix of mandarin, orange and/or apricot).
At any Chinese New Year’s banquet, diners anticipate noodles to appear as one of the final courses, signaling a celebration of long life. Richmond has a plethora of places for getting your noodle fix, with the hand-pulled noodles at the unassuming Xi’an Cuisine (2370-8260 Westminster Highway, Richmond) at the Richmond Public Market being a very satisfying frontrunner choice. Have them in soup or stir-fried, or go for the noodles in spicy peanut sauce, if you want a saucier version. The non-uniform shape and size of the noodles are part of their rustic charm.
Happy eating and happy Year of the Tiger!