It may not seem like spring, but January 29 marks the beginning of spring on the lunar calendar and the most joyous of celebrations in many Asian countries. The Chinese Year of the Dog begins on that day, as does the Vietnamese Tet and the Korean New Year. All are celebrated with a variety of traditional foods available in local restaurants.
If you are loyal, honest, and inspire other people’s confidence because you can keep secrets, then you may have been born in the Year of the Dog. 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, and 2006 are those special years. Unfortunately, you may also be selfish, terribly stubborn and eccentric. However, you do make a good leader and are most compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger and Rabbit.
Some area restaurants feature special New Year menus while others suggest ordering traditional dishes from their regular menus. Red and yellow foods are served to bring good luck and good fortune to diners. Long noodles offer a long life and whole fish provides prosperity. Serve a whole chicken (including head and feet) and happiness will follow.
It is a great time to gather family and friends together, go to your favorite restaurant and enjoy their New Year banquet or create one of your own. Here are just a few.
1320 4th Street SE, Minneapolis
Daniel Lam’s popular Dinkytown restaurant offers special Chinese New Year dishes for one week beginning January 29, as well as an extensive menu featuring seafood. This is a favorite for family dining and there are no reservations. Call ahead if you plan to bring a large party and ask Daniel for dining suggestions.
AZAI Restaurant and Bar
2550 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
Tom Pham offers a variety of his own creations based on traditional Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Malaysian cuisines. Can accommodate large and small parties. Call for reservations.
Hong Kong Star
5009B East Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park
(formerly China Jade)
Featuring Cantonese, Szechuan, Hunan and Asian dishes this family restaurant offers an extensive menu of traditional dishes. Create your own New Year celebration.
David Fong’s Restaurant
9329 Lyndale Ave. S., Bloomington
This longtime Bloomington establishment offers a New Year menu January 26, 27, and 28, along with their regular Chinese and American menu and full bar. Reservations are suggested.
My Le Hoa
2910 Rice Street, Little Canada
Home to many Chinese banquets throughout the year and a favorite destination for dim sum, this restaurant will celebrate the New Year starting January 29 and through the month of February. Call for reservations and special menu options.
Singapore Chinese Cuisine
1715A Beam Avenue, Maplewood
Call for details about special New Year dishes at this creative restaurant.
Western and University Ave., St. Paul
One of the area’s most beautiful restaurants featuring Vietnamese cooking and full bar, it is set up for large and small parties. Call for information and reservations.
Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the website at www.asianculinary arts.com.