Although it’s the last thing you want to think about at the table, rats are a sign of wealth and surplus in Chinese culture, and the Year of the Rat will be ushered in on January 25 with promise, optimism, food, fanfare, and firecrackers. Representing the dawning of a new day, rats are hailed as quick and clever thinkers in China, and in ancient times, married couples prayed to the ever-fertile vermin in hopes of starting a family.
In this neck of the woods, a number of Chinese restaurants will celebrate with special dishes heaped with meaningful and uplifting symbolism, offering those who gather to enjoy them good health, fortune, and a long and prosperous life. Not bad for a skinny-tailed rodent.
Photo by Doug Schneider
3 Barker Ave, White Plains; 914.288.0188
Specializing in authentic Cantonese cooking and a dim-sum cart that customers say rivals those that roll in Hong Kong, this always hopping, seafood-forward fave, located in the White Plains Marriott, is ringing in the New Year until the end of the month.
On the menu: lobster with sticky rice in XO sauce, soft-shell crabs, and crispy jumbo shrimp with creamy mango-mayo sauce. Seaweed, which signifies fortune, will accompany braised pig feet and braised dried oysters.
11 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville; 914.579.2552
Homage will be paid to the Year of the Rat only on January 25 at this new, continuously bustling, quick-service den of boldly flavored Asian street food. (Fatt means lucky in Cantonese, so it can’t hurt to stop by.)
Executive Chef Mogan Anthony plans several additions to his ultra-fresh menu, including soy-flavored, scallion-dotted Longevity Noodles, and a Singapore Prosperity Salad of radish, carrot, jicama, cabbage, and pickled veggies, topped with raw salmon or tuna.
Photo courtesy of Goosefeather
Tarrytown House Estate, 49 E Sunnyside Ln, Tarrytown; 914.829.5454
Celebrity Chef Dale Talde is commemorating the New Year all week long (except Wednesday), with a handful of offerings alongside his daily Cantonese-focused fare. A Prosperity Salad of Cantonese-style raw hamachi, cucumbers, radish, pickled wood ear mushrooms, Asian pear, pomelo fruit, and golden beets pairs well with classic Longevity Noodles with minced chicken.
Red, cooked whole fish, seasoned with black vinegar and burnt cassia, denotes good fortune. Or, try the crispy sweet rice with citrus and whipped honey. In the spirit of tradition, every diner will receive a red envelope with gifts inside.
Photo courtesy of Made in Asia
111 Bedford Rd, Armonk; 914.730.3663
This northerly mainstay of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, and Thai cuisine will begin adding simple, traditional, celebratory dishes to its voluminous menu a couple of days before the New Year (expect them to carry over for a few days after, as well).
Look for rack of lamb with vinegar, Peking duck, lobster in a scallion sauce, and prosperity-boosting rice cakes with savory Chinese bacon and sausage.
Photo courtesy of O Mandarin
361 N Central Park Ave, Hartsdale; 914.437.9168
The stylish, strip-mall sensation is celebrating through the end of the month with the freshest whole fish, which “signify prosperity and abundance,” according to owner Peter Liu. Also being added to the menu are typical New Year’s dishes like rice cakes, Peking duck for fertility, free-range chicken in a clay pot, and fresh snap pea leaves, which symbolize purification.
Save room for sticky rice balls with sesame paste which Liu says is as traditional as “turkey for Thanksgiving.”
230 Tresser Blvd H004, Stamford; 203.323.7117
Celebratory fare will take center stage January 24–26, accompanying the creative menu of Szechuan delicacies from China-trained, award-winning chef Peter Chang.
Selections are served banquet-style, and include herbal pork belly cucumber rolls, lucky golden bags with lamb, fortune-inducing Emperor’s steamed sea bass and woven silk shrimp balls, and flambé spare ribs. Call ahead to join the festivities.
Photo courtesy of Sambal
4 W Main St, Irvington; 914.478.2200
Chinese New Year is in full swing until the 31st at this brick-faced bastion of Thai and Malay cooking, where the regular menu is served alongside specials like Jiaozi-steamed pork dumplings to usher in wealth, and crispy wheat noodles for the promise of a long life.
Lion’s head beef meatballs represent family unity, while Szechuan lamb chops with pepper-salt potatoes bring luck in business. Golden fried banana is a sweet end to the meal, as fruit beckons new beginnings.
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