The Year of the Rat – the first animal in the Chinese zodiac cycle – is on the horizon and that means it’s time to celebrate! Rats are clever, quick thinkers who are successful but content with living a quiet and peaceful life. Recent years of the Rat are 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 and, of course, 2020. So where to celebrate Chinese New Year? From all out festivals to special set menus, The Resident picks out some hotspots…
1 Chinatown London’s Chinese New Year 2020
London’s biggest Chinese New Year celebrations take place in Chinatown and the West End, of course, with lively parades, spectacular stage performances, martial arts and street food galore. The Chinese New Year parade starts at 10am with colourful parade floats and dragon dances on Charing Cross Road (north of Trafalgar Square), before snaking its way through Shaftesbury Avenue and into Chinatown. In Trafalgar Square, the thanksgiving ceremony starts at 11am, followed by firecrackers, speeches and the Lions’ Eye-Dotting Ceremony. There will be traditional flying dragon and lion dances at 12.50pm and music and dance performances on the stage from 1.15pm. On Charing Cross Road, you’ll find martial arts showcases, cultural zones, DJs and more. From 12pm-6pm in Chinatown, there will be lion dancing, craft stalls and a full range of Chinese zodiac animals, as well as plenty of restaurants to enjoy special CNY treats (see below).
2 Bang Bang Oriental, Colindale
Bang Bang Oriental, London’s largest Asian food hall, is marking the start of the Year of the Rat with a party on Friday evening, featuring a range of traditional performances and some whopping prizes to be won. There will be Lion Dancing, a vocal performance from Amy Yeoh, a Philippine Dance performance by D’MOMMAS & D’GROOVERS, and hand drum and Mongolian dance performances by the Harrow Chinese School. Guests will also have the chance to win some fantastic prizes on the night with the Lucky Raffle Red Envelope. The envelopes will be handed out from 7pm-7.30pm, with two free China Airlines return tickets from London Gatwick to Taipei, three £88 vouchers for Cruise Vista, 10 £30 Snowl vouchers, seven Taipec hampers, and three HungryPanda hampers to be won. From 7pm. Bang Bang Oriental’s food hall has more that 25 kiosks offering an eclectic mix of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Thai, Filipino cuisine and more.
399 Edgware Road, Colindale NW9 0FH bangbangoriental.com
3 One Night in Shanghai at W London’s, Soho
The Perception at W London on Soho’s Wardour Street is hosting an immersive night straight out of Shanghai to celebrate Chinese New Year. For those keen on celebrating into the early hours, W London will be offering a party with killer hip-hop beats, traditional dragon dances, live acts, signature sips infused with flavours from the Far East, and beats from the hottest DJ talent. 9pm till late. Entry is free but you must reserve a spot.
10 Wardour Street, Soho W1D 6QF; marriott.co.uk/w-london
25 & 29 January
To coincide with the New Year Celebrations, the China Exchange – a cultural organisation that runs an active programme to promote Chinatown and the Chinese community – is running volunteer-led walking tours of Chinatown on Saturday 25 & Wednesday 29 January. First, you’ll be taken on a journey through the streets of Chinatown, uncovering and celebrating its interesting heritage, and then you’ll get to enjoy a traditional feast served home-style in one of Chinatown’s fantastic restaurants. 11.30am-2pm. Tickets £27 (including lunch).
32a Gerrard Street, Chinatown W1D 6JA; chinaexchange.uk
5 Chinese New Year Food Market at Duke of York Square, Chelsea
Chelsea’s shopping and dining destination, Duke of York Square, will host its Chinese New Year Food Market, complete with a vibrant Lion Dance, on Saturday 25 January. Celebrate the Year of the Rat with an array of authentic Chinese dishes such as dumplings, banh khot (dragon eggs mini cakes), spring rolls, noodles, bao buns, bahn mi and Chinese tea, as well as innovative Chinese-inspired dishes from a number of the regular traders. 10am-4pm. The lion dances will take place at 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm. Free entry.
19 Duke of York Square, King’s Road, Chelsea SW3 4LY; dukeofyorksquare.com
6 Camden Market’s Chinese New Year Celebration
As the iconic Camden Market celebrates 45 years of heritage, creativity and individuality, it launches its first ever free Chinese New Year celebration. This year sees the launch of the market’s new and improved Asian Alleys, now spanning two arches with double the food offerings. The Chinese New Year celebration will feature plenty of live performances throughout the day, 10% off food from Asian Alley traders, and lucky visitors will receive red envelopes given containing surprises, from free food vouchers to discounts and offers.
Camden Market NW1 8AF; camdenmarket.com
7 London Designer Outlet, Wembley
London Designer Outlet (LDO) will be putting on a unique show for Chinese New Year. To kick off the festivities, there will be two spectacular Lion Dance performances on Saturday 25 January at 12:30pm and 2:30pm, parading through LDO to the beat of Chinese drums. The lion dancer will perform a popular routine, including the traditional ‘dotting the eyes’ of the lion with a calligraphy pen. In between the performances, make the most of all that LDO has to offer with discounts from designer brands such as Nike, Adidas, Champion, Levi’s, Converse, Moss Boss, Dr Martins, Dune and New Balance.
Wembley Park Blvd, Wembley HA9 0FD;londondesigneroutlet.com
8 Brent Cross’ Chinese New Year extravaganza
Brent Cross Shopping Centre is set to host its annual Chinese New Year extravaganza on Saturday 1 February. Working in collaboration with the London Chinese Community Centre, Brent Cross shoppers will be treated to an afternoon of entertainment, kicking off with a colourful, traditional Lion Dance performance, as well as a range of performances and workshops from Thai Chi to traditional music, crafts, children’s Chinese calligraphy classes and face-painting. Free to attend. 1pm-5pm.
Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Prince Charles Drive NW4 3FP; brentcross.co.uk
9 Museum of London Docklands’ Chinese New Year Family Festival, Limehouse
The Museum of London Docklands will be celebrating the Year of the Rat with the return of its popular two-day Chinese New Year family festival. Located just a stones throw away from London’s original Chinatown, the museum is the perfect place to close out two weeks of Lunar New Year festivities and introduce the little ones to the traditions of Chinese culture. The event will feature a host of dance performances, ribbon dancing, martial arts demonstrations, ancient folktales and creative workshops from calligraphy to board game making. From 11am. Free,
No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay E14 4AL; museumoflondon.org.uk
1 Mei Ume, Tower Hill
23 January-6 February
Mei Ume will kick off the Chinese New Year with a specially crafted menu and beautiful decor, including traditional origami red lanterns, gossamer peonies and chrysanthemums, created by paper florist Karen Hsu from Pom Pom Factory. The menu begins with a Prosperity Toss salad of raw fish on a bed of dressed crispy daikon radish, pickled spring onions, seaweed and ginger – it’s traditionally eaten while standing and tossed with chopsticks, and the higher you toss, the better your luck in the New Year. To follow there will be Yin Yang Soup with poached scallop and sweet crab meat, and classic Peking Duck served table-side, as well as dishes of wok fried tender Wagyu with ginger and spring onions, and honey-glazed roasted pork served with jellyfish salad. Available from 23 January-6 February priced £98pp.
Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, 10 Trinity Square EC3N 4AJ; meiume.com
2 Royal China Group, various locations
Royal China Group, which has six restaurants across London, will be celebrating Chinese New Year with a unique Chinese New Year menu, red envelopes containing special gifts for each table, as well as Lion Dance performances. Handed out to customers from 24-30 January, each red envelope will offer a fortune message and some will contain a prize, from a £100 voucher to spend at Royal China to a complimentary dim sum dish. The Lion Dance performances will take place at each restaurant at the following times: Royal China Baker Street at 7.30pm and Royal China Club at 8.30pm on 27 Jan; Royal China Queensway at 7:30pm on 28 Jan, Royal China Riverside at 7:30pm on 29 Jan, Royal China Harrow at 7:30pm on 30 Jan; and Royal China Fulham at 1:30pm and Royal China Baker Street at 7:30pm on 31 Jan.
3 Harrods Lucky Set Afternoon Tea, Knightsbridge
11 January-16 February
Harrods will be celebrating Chinese New Year with an exclusive afternoon tea menu bringing together East and West traditions. Inspired by the Chinese game of mahjong, Harrods traditional British afternoon tea has been reimagined in partnership with Fenjiu, a premium Chinese Baijiu spirit. The special menu will include bespoke chocolates in the design of mahjong tiles, a beautiful patisserie selection inspired by Chinese good luck symbols, a selection of savory sandwiches and Harrods signature scones accompanied by Harrods apricot jam infused with Fenjiu. A signature cocktail brings together Fenjiu and Harrods tea. Plus, a wishing tree will be situated at the heart of the restaurant for the duration of the celebration for guests to hang a Harrods Lucky set paper tile with their wish for the year ahead.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge SW1X 7XL; harrods.com
4 Year of the Rat Afternoon Tea at Bun House, Chinatown
Bun House, purveyors of traditional home-style Cantonese snacks and Chinese steamed buns, have created an exclusive Year of the Rat afternoon set for Chinese New Year. Created for two to share, the treat features an assortment of sweet and savoury bites, including a selection of popular yum cha favourites and some oozing sweet custard bao buns. These will be accompanied by a pot of tea and a set of Bellini’s, fashioned with salted peach Baijiu, peach Purée, and prosecco. Available from 25-27 January priced £38 for two. Email email@example.com to book.
26-27 Lisle Street, Chinatown WC2H 7BA; bun.house
5 Lucky Fortune Cookies at P.F. Chang’s Asian Table, Covent Garden
P.F. Chang’s Asian Table is inviting Londoners to ring in the Chinese New Year with an array of delicious prizes to be won on 25 & 26 January. The pan-Asian restaurant will be offering lucky fortune cookies for all guests which, once cracked open, will reveal a series of fortunes, from a free meal for two to free appetisers and free desserts. With all dishes handmade from scratch daily, guests can also tuck into P.F Chang’s famous crispy tempura shrimp with sriracha aioli, Mongolian beef with tender flank steak caramelised in their signature dark soy sauce, and handmade lobster and shrimp spring rolls.
10 Newport Street, Covent Garden WC2H 7JA; pfchangs.co.uk
6 Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour, Chinatown
Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour, Chinatown’s decadent multi-story drinking den with three oriental-themed bars, has launched an exclusive trio of cocktails featuring the tastes and ingredients of the Far East. From 20-26 January, you can combine one of these cocktails with a dim sum platter of your choosing,along with an egg custard tart, a red lucky envelope and a fortune cookie for just £35pp. The three cocktails are: The Great Race (lychee, wine, vanilla, rose ginger and Perrier Jouet champagne), The Ginger Fury (Tokinoka Black whisky, house-made ginger wine and cloves), and The Jade Emperor (Tokinoka White Oak whisky, vermouth, Benedictine D.O.M, Umeshu and bitters).
15-16 Gerrard Street, Chinatown W1D 6JE; opiumchinatown.com
7 XU Teahouse & Restaurant, Soho
XU, which serves a creative take on classic Chinese and Taiwanese cuisines, has revamped its Mister XU set menu for Chinese New Year, featuring XU classics such as Shou Pa Chicken and Sweet Potato Taro Dumplings alongside festive dishes such as Coloured Chilli Whole Lemon Sole. Whole fish is particularly propitious during Chinese New Year, as it signifies abundance and plenty. An additional The Macallan Whisky & wine pairing will be available alongside the CNY menu. Available from 25 January-9 February priced £39pp (plus drinks). A Chinese Dragon Dance, a customary tradition performed at the beginning of every lunar new year to usher in good luck, prosperity, and peace for the coming months, will open the celebrations when the Chinatown parade makes a stop in XU on Sunday 26 January.
30 Rupert Street, Soho W1D 6DL; xulondon.com
8 The Ivy Asia St. Paul’s
The Ivy Asia St. Paul’s is offering Londoners a series of new food and cocktail specials alongside a night of music and exciting entertainment this Chinese New Year. For one night only on Saturday 25 January, the restaurant will play host to a series of performances from dancers and DJs from 7.30pm. Executive Chef Simon Gregory and Head Chef Deepak Kotian have created a selection of appetising and exciting new dishes, including Truffle Kung Pao Chicken and Steamed Sea Bass with Shaoxing, chilli, ginger and sesame. There’s also an indulgent Golden Giant Fortune Cookie with Valrhona Guanaja dark chocolate, vanilla ice cream and chocolate pearls, a bespoke fortune and the chance to win a free lunch or dinner. The bar team has also created a bespoke drinks menu inspired by the five Chinese elements, all available exclusively from 21-25 January.
20 New Change, St Paul’s EC4M 9AG; theivyasia.com
9 Red Farm, Covent Garden
Award-winning modern Chinese restaurant Red Farm will introduce new additions to its menu to celebrate the advent of the Year of the Rat. Famed New York dim sum chef Joe Ng has curated a special Chinese New Year menu with plates including shrimp and spinach dumplings with seared scallop and caviar. You can also roll the red dice to win prizes – roll a lucky 8 and select a traditional red envelope containing prizes ranging from dinner for two to a glass of tap water. Should Saturday not work for you, Red Farm also serves up an excellent Champagne & Dim Sum Sunday Brunch for £60pp (or £40pp without alcohol).
9 Russell Street, Covent Garden WC2B 5HZ; redfarmldn.com
10 ORIENT LONDON, Chinatown
24 January-2 February
Famed for its unique Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine, Orient London specialises in seafood and freshly made dim sum. Orient London is celebrating Chinese New Year with a special menu featuring Baked Lobster with Ginger & Spring Onion, Stir-Fried Scallop, Squid and Asparagus with XO Chilli Sauce, Prawn Balls with Apricot Kernels, Braised Lamb Brisket with Bamboo Shoots & Chinese Mushrooms and Pan-Fried Lotus Root Cake. Available from 24 January-2 February as an à la carte menu with dishes priced from £13.80 to £36.80.
15 Wardour Street W1D 6PH; orientlondon.com
11 Murger Han, Euston & Mayfair
Murger Han, London’s first Xi’an restaurant, is celebrating Chinese New Year by filling its restaurants with rats! Diners at the Euston and Mayfair restaurants will each receive a rat mask that can be worn while eating to mimic a nibbling rodent. A special set menu of Murger Han classics will be on offer, serving a Pork Murger, Biang-Biang Noodles and an Ice Peak drink (priced £15pp, usually £21.80, for the entire day). Murger Han is also gifting a specially designed tote bag for customers born in the Year of The Rat (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008) in line with traditionally celebrating the Chinese Zodiac animal of your year of birth.
62 Eversholt Street Euston NW1 1DA & 8A Sackville Street Mayfair W1S 3DF; murgerhan.com
12 Lucky & Joy, Clapton
The talented team at Lucky & Joy are celebrating the first Chinese New Year in their new home with a special set menu. The broadly Chinese-inspired restaurant from chef Ellen Parr and drinks expert Pete Kelly opened recently following a string of sell-out pop-ups and residencies across the city. Guests will be welcomed with the restaurant’s fan-favourite Szechuan Negroni, followed by a feasting menu of seven dishes, including grilled sea bass with pickled and salted chillies and crispy whole quail marinated in five spice and red tofu. The menu is a nod to Chinese food symbolism and ‘lucky’ ingredients, which are traditionally served during the festival season. Available from 21-25 January priced £33pp. To book email firstname.lastname@example.org with Chinese New Year in the subject.
95 Lower Clapton Road E5 0NP; luckyandjoy.co.uk
13 Kym’s, Bloomberg Arcade
13 January-9 February
Kym’s in Bloomberg Arcade is set to welcome in the Year of the Rat with a lantern installation, limited edition celebration menu and a giveaway of 3,000 prize-filled fortune cookies. Hundreds of traditional red lanterns will adorn the ceiling of the main restaurant, mezzanine level and the bar. Michelin-starred chef Andrew Wong has created an exclusive five-course feast featuring a Prosperity Salad, Roasted Duck Jiaozi and Black Truffled Pumpkin to start, followed by a choice of two main sharing dishes: Kym’s signature Three Treasures (Crispy Pork Belly, Iberico Char Siu, Slow Poached Soy Chicken), or Seabass with Double Deluxe Soy and Ginger Spring Onion. To finish, indulge in desserts of Yuzu Layered Cake served with Orange Sorbet and Ginger, or a vegan Fuji Apple with Sorbet and Snow. Available for £45 (vegetarian options are available).
19 Bloomberg Arcade, the City EC4N 8AR; kymsrestaurant.com