This Chinese New Year heralds the year of the fire monkey and London, as it does each year, will be painting the town red. Here is how some of the capital’s finest Chinese restaurants will be celebrating in style:
1) Fabulous food with a side of razzmatazz is par for the course for Alan Yau, and two of his venues are pulling out the stops this New Year. His highly anticipated Park Chinois restaurant-cum-club in Mayfairopened on the former site of Automat late last year, and launching in tune with the Lunar New Year is a special lunch menu. Expect the usual luxe dim sum regulars – Angus beef shumai (£5.50), taro croquette with king crab, scallop and prawn (£9.50), venison puff (£6) – but also standout dishes from the restaurant’s dinner menu. These include Bang Bang chicken salad (£19), French lobster over vermicelli, egg, ginger and spring onion (£10.50 per 100g), the signature Park Carbonara – with Inaniwa udon, sea urchin, 65-degree egg, pancetta (£32) – and the seriously decadent Japanese somen with dried shrimp roe and 20g of Baeri Royal Caviar (£36 per person), all served within the space’s chic classic chinoiserie surrounds.
Closer to Chinatown, Yau’s The Duck & Rice gastropub in Soho will present a Chinese New Year menu including Dong Po belly pork (£14) and a fiery stir-fry Shanghai rice cake with prawn, Calabrian nduja and xo (£16 ) – but the real showstopper will be the daily screenings running all week (February 1-8). Episodes of the 1970s cult classic Monkey Magic will be shown each day, culminating with the animated film Monkey King: Hero is Back. Live lion dances will further jazz up the weekend (February 6-7).
2) Until February 22, Hakkasan’s 11 global venues will celebrate with a gourmet bang. For the Mayfair space, executive head chef Tong Chee Hwee has created a set menu (£88.88 per person, eight being an auspicious number in China) featuring classics with a festive twist: Wagyu beef with pine nut in a golden cup; wok-fry lobster in spicy truffle sauce; and grilled Chilean sea bass in honey. A Golden halo dessert is comprised of soy caramel, banana delice, chocolate and peanut, while a Shéng fizz fruit blend (£7) is a zingy combo of mandarin, guava, peach, lemon, agave syrup and ginger ale. Guests will also be invited to write New Year wishes on gold ribbons that will be hung around the restaurant – a tradition inspired by Hong Kong’s Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees.
Over at the sister venue in the City, HKK, head chef Tong’s eight-course menu (£88) is rich in symbolism and tradition. Two soup dishes – one a supreme crab and kumquat recipe, the other a vegetarian shark fin – come presented in a yin-yang symbol that speaks to the motif of sky and earth, and is reminiscent of the Chinese tradition of paying respects to the abundant harvest to (hopefully) come. Likewise, the grand finale Tray of Togetherness features eight sweets, including jasmine tea shortbread and orange jellies.
3) Harrods’ Chai Wu restaurant (second picture), located on the fifth floor and fresh from its first anniversary, will offer a set menu (£88) from February 7 to 14. A glass of champagne sets the scene, followed by a Chinese sashimi salad and goldfish-shaped dumplings. Mains include an extravagant oyster tempura with Sichuan peppercorn sauce, Wagyu steak with grilled asparagus and a special New Year Chilean sea bass alongside a moreish XO sauce-fried rice. Sweet red bean lotus seeds top off the menu.
And those fuelled for some post-meal shopping may like to check out Toy Kingdom, where toy-collective Papinee is celebrating its UK launch with a Harrods pop-up. On offer is the exclusive Happy Monkey (from £70) – sculptures of which will adorn Harrods’ windows – that comes embroidered with time-honoured symbols of luck: hearts, four leaf clovers, an evil eye, horseshoes and hamsa. For each sale, Papinee will also donate an Inspire kit (which includes a colouring book and colouring pencils) to a child in need through the NSPCC.