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Your Guide to Lunar New Year Dining on Oʻahu

Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean: Here are the best places to start your Lunar New Year feast.


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Boar, earth pig, whatever you want to call it, 2019 is the year of the swine. The Chinese are not the only ones who will be celebrating the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, Feb. 5 with food and traditions to bring in good fortune. Sorry, we won’t help you clean your home or give you money, but we did turn to our dining writers for tasty tips on where to find those new year treats.

 

Chinese new year

Photos: Freepik.com

 

Chinese

*“Kung Hei Fat Choy! (Lai See Dou Loi)”

Once the firecrackers are popped to scare away bad spirits and red lisee given out, Chinese eat several dishes with significance for the new year.

 

Dish

Nian gao, or what is often simply called gau, in the Islands is one of the most well-known new year sweets. You can find the brown mochi-looking dessert wrapped in red paper and topped with a red date everywhere from Longs to Chinese restaurants. The name sounds like the words for “year high,” so it is for success.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery (@singcheongyuanbakery) on

 

Where: Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery, 1027 Maunakea St., (808) 531-6688.

How much: TBA

While you’re there: Browse rows of bins filled with candied dried fruit and vegetables including carrot, lotus root, gingko nuts, papaya and coconut brought in for the new year. Drop it in your tea or just snack on them.  

 

Dish

Jiao zi, or dumplings shapes, are supposed to resemble gold ingots for good fortune.

 

 

Where: Joy Cup Noodle Mean’s chefs make their own wrappers for their tasty dumplings. 1608 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 725-2898.

How much: $9.99

 

SEE ALSO: How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Honolulu Like You’re Really Chinese

 

Dumpling-making

 

Dish

Fa gao is a baked sponge cake with red bean.

 

 

Where: California-based JJ2 Bakery makes what it calls “Prosperity cake” for the new year. 1440 Kapiʻolani Blvd., (808) 942-0888, jjsquaredbakery.com.

How much: TBA

Whille you’re there: Expect to walk out with impulse buys. Savory baked goods, sandwiches and a tempting selection of other treats will beckon.

 

Dish

Tangyuan is a hot sesame soup with sweet mochi balls that’s also popular during winter solstice in Taiwan and the first full moon after the new year. It’s a symbol of family coming together.

 

 

Where to get it: Frostcity, 2570 Beretania St., Suite 105, (808) 947-3328, facebook.com/frostcity

How much: TBA

 

SEE ALSO: Your Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Night in Chinatown and Lunar New Year Parade

 

Korean / Seollal

 

Dish

Tteokguk is a comforting soup with rice cake that’s been boiled in the broth. According to The Korea Herald, the rice cake symbolizes good health and is sliced into coin-shaped circles for fortune. Finish the bowl to ensure you grow one year older.

 

Vietnam / Tet Nguyen Dan

 

Dish

In Hawaiʻi, you’re likely to find people making or buying banh chung or banh tet, mochi rice cakes stuffed with pork and wrapped in banana leaves, which are supposed to bring luck. Eat it with pickled shallots.

Where: Find the cakes in various places in Chinatown.

How much: Prices should be no more than a few dollars.

 

Dish

Families also make thit kho nuoc dua, tender pork belly that’s simmered in coconut juice with hard-boiled eggs.

Where: The Pig & The Lady will be serving it Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Kapiʻolani Community College Farmers Market.

How much: TBA

While you’re there: Look for the bright red xoi gac, sticky rice.

 

Also where: Thit kho nuoc dua is also usually the stew of the day on Tuesdays at The Rice Place on Cooke Street. (On the menu it’s called “pork belly and hard-boiled egg.”) Fortunately for us, the new year falls on Tuesday this year. 725 Kapiʻolani Blvd., Suite C119B, (808) 779-6959, thericeplace808.com

How much: $10

While you’re there: A vegetarian noodle dish will also be added for those who go vegetarian for the occasion.

 

*Editor’s note: We used the Cantonese Pinyin spelling for the new year greeting because our digital editorial specialist is from Hong Kong (and keeps saying it this way in the office).

 

 

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