Why do we choose what we eat on a holiday? The reasons are far more plentiful than any other day of the year, and the foods we select are very much threaded through with tradition, tales, and the themes that the holiday evokes.
The Chinese New Year brings with it feasting of the grandest order, and the dishes made in homes and restaurants carry with them a wish for good fortune over the year ahead. Several Southern California eateries will be making such entrees and desserts, as well as dishes that are special to the restaurant and its own way of celebrating a holiday festooned with dance, cheer, music, firecrackers, art, and every auspicious wish.
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Hakkasan Beverly Hills: The special eight-course Chinese New Year menu is available through Sunday, March 1, if you find yourself busy this weekend at the Golden Dragon Parade. Sha cha mock duck with cloud ear, celery, and bamboo shoot is one of the elegant entries, as is abalone and dry scallop fried rice. And a kumquat wishing tree dessert pays tribute to the restaurant's Wishing Tree, where guests may leave "their hopes" on a small piece of paper.
Shanghai Rose: The Studio City dim sum favorite will incorporate traditional stringed music, played live, during the dinner seatings on Saturday, Feb. 21 and Sunday, Feb. 22. On the new year's menu? Look for dumplings fashioned to look like silver ingots, longevity noodles, and spring rolls that bear a resemblance in shape to gold bars. Moon cakes, too, shall be served, lending the lively dinners another dose of good fortune.
Patina at Walt Disney Concert Hall: Executive Chef Paul Lee is presenting a six-course, $135 Chinese New Year menu from Thursday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 22. Peking cooking is paired with French traditions in dishes like Muscovy duck Breast and Chocolate Namelaka. Oh, and guest will get a red envelope that contains a voucher for a glass of bubbly that is good "when dining at the restaurant within the next 30 days." Things delivered in red envelopes are so very nice.
Little Sister: Searching for Peking duck, spring rolls full of shiitake mushrooms, and a bevy of bites honoring the new year? Make for Manhattan Beach and Executive Chef Tin Vuong's special Chinese New Year roster of lucky (and luscious) eats. The menu is available through Saturday, Feb. 28 and includes jumbo prawns and pineapple fried rice, pork, crab, and garlic dumplings, and house-spiced citrus bubbles, which fill the fortunate feasting with a bit of dash.
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WP24: Hot & sour oxtail soup sounds both fortune-filled and fortifying, especially since some weather is due over the first few days of the Chinese New Year. If you'd like to dip a spoon into the traditional broth, or go for Peking duck, head for The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles through Thursday, Feb. 26.