Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey, starts on February 8th. Chinese New Year is a celebration of family, good luck and prosperity. A truly global celebration, people all over the world commemorate the event or travel to cities that host Chinese New Year festivities. For the first time, New York City closed all public schools in observance of the New Year. There are major festivities taking place in England. The Lunar New Year is also observed in Tibet, Vietnam and Korea.
Here are my top 5 restaurant picks for Celebrating Chinese New Year in Toronto:
1. Luckee / R&D (tie) - Both of these beautifully designed restaurants have been on various 'best of' lists since opening, both feature well executed traditional dishes and modern interpretations of classic flavours. They both also have stellar cocktail lists that are often overshadowed by the praise for their food. These are the places to go if you want to wash down your meal with a house blend Sake on tap (Luckee) or a Sichuan Maple Old Fashioned (R&D).
2. Kwan - Serving up Cantonese and Dim Sum in a large, handsomely appointed 120 seat space. It's off the beaten track as far as Cantonese spots go. Not in Chinatown, the downtown core, or Markham but I work around the corner and it's become my go to spot for excellent dim sum and delicious Cantonese dishes. Don't miss out on the Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken at dinner or the Honey Glazed Beef Ribs on the Dim Sum menu.
3. Asian Legend - Located in the heart of Chinatown, this is the the place to go feast on lobster for your Lunar New Year celebration. They offer set menus for the occasion featuring lobster, and their dim sum selection is outstanding. You can continue the celebrations at home with Asian Legend's Chinese New Year prepared dishes available for purchase this month at all T&T grocery store locations.
4. Congee Wong - It's an open secret that some of the best Chinese food is served outside of Toronto's Chinatown. There are many Torontonians that won't eat anywhere south of Markham or Richmond Hill. For those of you that want the 'far North' experience a little closer to the city, Congee Wong at Leslie and Finch is the spot for you. The restaurant is a short bus ride from Finch Station and, addition to delicious congee, you can stop by for a traditional breakfast Monday to Friday until 11:30 AM.
5. Shangri-La Hotel Lobby Lounge - I love hanging out here any day of the year. The Lobby Lounge offers nightly live entertainment that I enjoy from the comfort of one their easy chairs or couches near the roaring fireplace. Their Asian-inspired snacks and menu of 68 teas are complimented by a Chinese New Year High Tea until February 21st. Everyone can indulge with vegetarian and gluten-free options available upon request with your reservation.