8 Chinese New Year Foods You Need to Eat to Usher in Good Luck in 2016

These eight lucky foods are traditionally eaten by the Chinese to welcome a new year.

Gung hee fat choy! The Chinese believe certain foods must be eaten during Chinese New Year to bring blessings for the whole year. If you want a prosperous 2016, incorporate these eight foods into your diet this month. 


1. Jai 

Chinese New Year jai from Mei Sum Dim Sum in Chinatown.
Photos: Diane Lee


This rich vegetarian stew known as “jai” or “Buddha’s delight” is traditionally eaten by Buddhist monks. The Chinese usually eat jai on the first day of the lunar new year, which falls on Feb. 8 this year. A typical jai dish includes more than eight ingredients (eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture). We’re fans of Mei Sum Dim Sum’s generous serving of jai with bamboo shoots, snow peas, black mushrooms, napa cabbage, black fungus, water chestnuts, rice noodles, baby corn, ginkgo nuts and carrots.  

$12.95, Mei Sum Dim Sum, 1170 Nu‘uanu Ave., 531-3268



2. Long Noodles 

Chicken e-mein with enoki mushroom from Little Village Noodle House.


If you want to live a long life, eat long noodles! At Little Village Noodle House, we recommend the dish with the longest noodles, chicken e-mein with enoki mushroom, to celebrate the new year. It’s considered unlucky to break the noodles, so be sure to eat it like spaghetti. 

$12.95, Little Village Noodle House, 1113 Smith St., 545-3008



3. Dumplings 

Chicken dumplings from Regal Bakery.


The shape of the Chinese dumpling looks like Chinese tael (gold). Try these fresh, homemade chicken dumplings from Regal Bakery to welcome wealth and prosperity for the rest of the year. 

$8.95, Regal Bakery, 100 N. Beretania St., 540-1000



4. Whole Fish 

Fresh uhu from Lobster King.


When you order fresh fish to celebrate Chinese New Year, the fish must come with the head and tail intact for a good year from start to finish. Order the fresh uhu steamed and garnished with ginger, green onion and soy sauce. 

$18.95 per pound for uhu, Lobster King, 1180 S. King St., 944-8288, lobsterkinghi.com



5. Sweet candies 

Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery sweet candies.


Add a little sweetness to your life in 2016 with these Chinese New Year candies from Chinatown. Sing Cheong Yuen Chinese Bakery has the widest variety, including favorites such as carrot, winter melon, lotus root, coconut slices, lemon kumquat, water chestnut and ginger. You’ll need eight different candies to usher in good luck for the year. Drop these candies into your tea on the morning of Chinese New Year to sweeten your day. 

Sing Cheong Yuen Chinese Bakery, 1027 Maunakea St., 531-6688, singcheongyuanbakery.com



6. Oranges/Tangerines

Oranges and mandarins for Chinese New Year.


Pick up some oranges and tangerines at Chinatown or at your nearest grocery store for an abundance of good fortune. 



7. Gau 

Gau from Chinatown.


It takes several hours to steam brown sugar, glutinous rice flour and water into this sticky, sweet mochi treat known as gau. The dough rising during the steaming process is symbolic of achieving heights in the new year. It’s best to eat gau fresh when the mochi is still soft and gooey. 

$3.99 small, $6.50 medium, $12 large, Wing Cheong, 133 N. Hotel St., 531-4426


8. Gin Dui 

Gin dui from Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant.


The Chinese traditionally deep fry these mochi balls during the new year. The crunchy round puffs come with coconut, red bean paste or char siu filling. Always order fresh gin dui, not too burnt. 

$3, Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant, 111 N. King St., 521-8268, goldenpalacehonolulu.com


Read More Stories by Diane Lee