8 Lucky Chinese New Year Foods to Celebrate the Year of the Dog in 2018
Make a stop in Chinatown and downtown Honolulu for these foods to welcome a lucky 2018.
If you’re in need of some extra luck toward a prosperous and healthy new year, try these eight lucky foods. The good news: You don’t need to travel very far to celebrate Chinese New Year in Honolulu. Just take a stroll to these Chinatown and downtown Honolulu restaurants and shops to get started on a lucky Year of the Dog. Gung hee fat choy!
Photos: Diane Lee
We enjoyed sharing the Little Village Noodle House’s pan-fried tofu and chive filled dumplings with our plant-loving colleague. One order of vegetarian dumplings comes with four pieces, but we recommend getting two orders (eight dumplings) instead. Four sounds like the word for “death” in Chinese, so to avoid bad luck, you’ll always want to avoid four items of anything.
$11 (two orders of potstickers), Little Village Noodle House, 1113 Smith St., (808) 545-3008, littlevillagehawaii.com
When you’re at Little Village Noodle House, you order—what else?—noodles. There are plenty of options to choose from such as chow fun, pan-fried egg noodle and rice noodle at this gold Hale ‘Aina winner for Best Chinese restaurant. Order the mixed vegetables (enoki mushrooms, snow peas and tofu) stir fry yi mein, a flat Cantonese egg noodle made from wheat flour. Avoid cutting the noodles when you’re serving them (that’s a big no-no). Long noodles symbolize longevity. Wash it down with oolong tea to cleanse your palate, then raise a teacup to long life!
$12.95, Little Village Noodle House, 1113 Smith St., (808) 545-3008, littlevillagehawaii.com
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
At Water Drop Vegetarian House, order the lo han jai, also known as Buddha’s delight. Jai includes at least eight ingredients, including bean curd (wealth and happiness), bamboo shoots (wealth), bean thread noodles (longevity), black mushrooms (longevity), wood ear (longevity) and water chestnuts (unity). This Buddhist-run vegetarian restaurant is popular with the downtown Honolulu crowd, so be there by 11:30 a.m. to beat the lunch rush. Call ahead to check the menu since entreé choices change daily.
$8 (two choices), Water Drop Vegetarian House, 801 Alakea St., (808) 545-3455
Mei Sum Dim Sum’s coconut-filled sesame pastry balls come out hot and crispy from the fryer. These deep fried mochi balls aren’t too chewy and sticky. Avoid eating burnt and overcooked gin dui.
$3.09, Mei Sum Dim Sum, 1170 Nu‘uanu Ave, (808) 531-3268
It typically takes several hours (and lots of patience) to steam a batch of nian gao, a sweet mochi treat eaten during Chinese New Year. The cooking process is symbolic of achieving heights during the new year. There is a serious debate at our office about whose Chinese mom’s gao is the best (of course, I vote for my mom’s version). However, if you’re not as lucky to enjoy the homemade dessert for free, then Bo Wah Trading Co.’s gao is close to the real deal. Watch out for mold—gao’s lifespan is less than a week. Gao is best eaten while fresh, soft and sticky. If you cannot finish gao on time, then refrigerate it and pan fry it until it’s crispy on the outer edges—yum!
$3.50 each, Bo Wah Trading Co., 1037 Maunakea St., 808-537-2017
These oval-shaped, strawberry-flavored candies are wrapped in lucky red envelopes and make excellent treats for colleagues and friends. Bo Wah’s lucky candies are among the least expensive in Chinatown.
$3.25 per bag, Bo Wah Trading Co., 1037 Maunakea St., (808) 537-2017
Tangerines and Li See
Place a pair of lucky red envelopes and tangerines next to your pillow for an abundance of good fortune. You can pick up lucky red envelopes from Chinatown’s China Arts Inc., next door to Bo Wah Trading Co. You’ll want to ask the shop owner what’s listed on the envelope, because each lucky red envelope has a specific meaning. Walk over to Kekaulike Market to pick up some tangerines for $2.99 per pound.
$1.75 per package, China Arts Inc., 1033 Maunakea St., (808) 538-1628
Dried Fruit Candies
Sing Cheong Yuan Chinese Bakery offers the widest selection of lucky dried fruit candies. The popular favorites are carrots, coconut chunks, water chestnut, lotus seed, winter melon, ginger and dried lychee. Buy candies by the pound or by the handful. On the morning of Feb. 16, drop these candies into your freshly brewed cup of tea for a sweeter new year.
Prices vary, Sing Cheong Yuan Chinese Bakery, 1027 Maunakea St., (808) 531-6688, facebook.com/Sing-Cheong-Yuan-Bakery
Brunch like you mean it at HONOLULU Magazine’s BrunchFest presented by American Savings Bank on Sunday, March 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at SALT at Our Kaka‘ako. Embrace the relaxed Sunday Funday vibe with seven local chefs, live entertainment, lawn games and a photo booth during this unique dining experience. Tickets on sale now. Click here.