The second most exciting thing about Chinese New Year is the fact that it’s closely tied to the Chinese zodiac, which means that each year is represented by a particular animal that determines the mood of the months to come, as well as the personality traits of people born then. This 16 February marks the start of the Year of the Dog, which apparently signifies loyalty, friendship, responsibility and honesty. This all sounds pleasingly wholesome to us, but we’re shamelessly more interested in the first most exciting thing about Chinese New Year: the food.
“Chinese New Year is all about getting together with friends and family and sharing food,” says Mr Shing Tat Chung, the founder and chef behind Xu, a revered Taiwanese restaurant nestled between Soho and Chinatown. Xu is largely a family affair, which Mr Chung runs with his wife Ms Erchen Chang and his sister Ms Wai Ting Chung. “As a family, we used to have food served banquet style with various different courses, and this always featured lobster on noodles as well as receiving red envelopes, which are small packets with money inside given to family members on special occasions,” he explains. “This doesn’t happen anymore for me though, as once you’re married, you’re the one handing out the red envelopes!”
When it comes to the food to ring in the New Year though, Mr Chung says dumplings – mouth-wateringly soft, stuffed with hearty flavours and served with a pleasantly dissonant side of black rice vinegar – are non-negotiable. “Dumplings are a great dish to eat on Chinese New Year because they’re an auspicious food that is believed to bring good luck for the coming year – it’s also a great dish to make together.” To celebrate, Xu has curated a menu of pork dumplings, which will be available to order in the restaurant from 16 February. They have also shared one of their recipes with MR PORTER, which you can find below.