Lunar New Year is the biggest annual holiday for many East Asian cultures, and marks the beginning of a calendar year that follows the cycles of the moon. Many countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Singapore observe this holiday, each celebrating with unique customs and traditions that range from new year food, to greetings, to decorations.
Coquitlam is a diverse hub, and we’re lucky to have so many different cultures call this city home. It’s never difficult to find authentic, ethnic cuisines here—especially for special occasions such as Lunar New Year, which takes place on February 12 this year.
There’s no better way to celebrate this Asian holiday than with delicious food. Here are some tips on what to eat and where to find them around town whether you choose to make it yourself or take advantage of one of the many dine-in or takeout options.
Chinese New Year
The new year celebrations will undoubtedly look a little different this year with the ongoing pandemic, but that doesn’t mean Chinese New Year—and all the delicious food associated with the holiday—is cancelled. In the Chinese culture, certain dishes have auspicious meanings, which make them essential foods to eat during the holiday.
Sticky rice cakes in Chinese is pronounced leen go (Cantonese) or nian gao (Mandarin), which sounds like the phrase “reaching higher every year”. Its lucky connotations make it a popular dish to eat in the morning, and can be made from scratch at home or bought in stores. Find them at Asian supermarkets such as T&T or New Pacific Supermarket, or dining establishments such as Grand Palace Restaurant.
The Chinese word for fish is yu, which sounds like the phrase “fortune is upon you”, which is a big reason why many families enjoy this dish at home or at restaurants during festive meals. Diners can also find fresh, whole fish at Asian grocers such as T&T or New Pacific Supermarket, and at most Cantonese-style seafood restaurants, including Grand Palace and Kam Ding Seafood Restaurant.
Korean New Year
Korean New Year, better known as Seollal in Korean, marks the first day of the Korean lunar calendar. As one of the most important holidays, celebrations are usually massive and last for three days. Under normal circumstances, Koreans would be visiting families to pay respects, worshipping ancestors, preparing gourmet meals, and enjoying various activities and games. The celebrations will be limited to single households this year, but we have no doubt that families will continue to prepare delicious new year foods at home.
The most popular Korean New Year food is tteokguk, which is Korean rice cake soup or Korean new year soup. The sliced rice cakes resemble ancient Korean coins, making the dish symbolic of riches and prosperity.
Other essential Korean new year dishes include mandu-guk (dumpling soup), jeon (Korean savoury pancakes), galbi-jjim (braised short ribs), and japchae (stir-fried glass noodles). Most families prepare these dishes at home, and ingredients can be found at local Korean supermarkets such as H-Mart Coquitlam and Assi Market Coquitlam.
Local Restaurants to Support
Located at Henderson Place Mall, this popular dining establishment is known for its dim sum and Cantonese-style dishes. It will be offering special Chinese New Year set dinner menus (for four or six people), which includes delicacies such as fish maw, abalone, lobster with rice cakes, braised pig’s knuckles with black moss, marinated chicken, and more. These meals are available for dine-in or takeout.
Guests can also find Chinese New Year sticky rice cakes here, including traditional sweet rice cake, radish cake, and taro cake, among others.
Deer Garden has been a staple Chinese restaurant in Coquitlam for more than 25 years, because its consistent quality resonates with diners. Although they won’t be offering any special Lunar New Year features, guests can still indulge in classics such as Fukien-style fried rice, rice noodles, curry, and a chef’s recommendation: deep-fried pork chop with peppery salt. If you are eating with your household, ordering a variety of even-numbered dishes is considered good luck. Dine-in and takeout are available.
This fan-favourite food spot isn’t creating any special festive dishes for the Asian holiday, but there are many items on its regular menu that are perfect for Lunar New Year. Noodles symbolize longevity, and diners can try its char bee hoon (Singapore-style wok-fried vermicelli) or char kuey teow (fried flat noodles)—spice levels are customizable. Its assam tofu resemble golden nuggets, which can allude to wealth and bring good luck. Dine-in and takeout are available.
Known for its authentic Korean dishes, Haenam has a variety of delicious menu items to celebrate Korean New Year. Its rice cake and dumpling soup are great for those who don’t have time to prepare it at home. Seafood and vegetable pancakes are also served, as well as braised short rib, stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables, and deep-fried or steamed dumplings. Dine-in and takeout are available.
Tucked away in the heart of Central Coquitlam, this cozy Korean restaurant offers a regular menu that includes new year-appropriate creations. Guests can try its seasonal rice cake dumpling soup, or dig into an order of japchae. Other tasty items include a rotating weekly special, which happens to be a hearty tofu soup with noodles for this week. One of its most popular items is the dosirak, or old-school Korean lunchbox, featuring rice, spam, fishcakes, kimchi, and a fried egg—simple but hits the spot. Available for dine-in and takeout.
Looking for more ideas on where to eat your favourite Lunar New Year dishes? We have a full map of restaurants at visitcoquitlam.ca/eat-drink.
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