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, delicious cuisines here—especially for special occasions such as Lunar New Year, which takes place on February 1st 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 Chinese Lunar New Year is February 1 and it is the year of the Tiger. While the new year celebrations will undoubtedly look a little different this year with the ongoing pandemic, 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 in Coquitlam City, Chuan Chili House is known for its flavourful dishes and for providing quality consistent food that tastes great every single time. They pride themselves on serving their customers delicious genuine dishes.
A family business with a particular level of modernity combined with the respect for tradition is what makes Woking Dragon so spectacularly unique.
Mei Le Bakery & Chinese Restaurant
Located in the Maillardville neighbourhood of Coquitlam, Mei Le is known for their bakery items (including Chinese Pork Buns) and for their delicious food including Dim Sum and seafood.
Proudly serving the community since 2014, Legend House serves Sichuan (Szechuan) cuisine and Northern Chinese style dim sum. Legend House strives to discover the essence of Chinese food, and is committed to creating quality dishes for your dining pleasure. Legend House makes its noodles and dumplings from scratch daily providing their guests with fresh, tasty, high quality foods.
Grand Palace Seafood Restaurant
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.
Located in the Austin Heights Neighbourhood of Coquitlam, J’s Wok is a local favourite. Try them out for dine in or take out!
Located in Central Coquitlam at Comp Lake Village, Zhous Chinese Restaurant serves a wide range of delicious, traditional Chinese dishes. They recommend their BBQ Pork Foo Young, assorted Seafood Chop Suey, or their Szechuan Fried Noodle.
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 City Centre, 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.
Oz Chicken & Korean Cuisine offers a tasty and unique take on the Korean fare. The family wanted to share the food they have enjoyed their whole lives, and decided to open Oz Chicken & Korean Bistro in Coquitlam back in 2015. There are so many great foods to sample in this area, but they felt like there was something missing. That is why they decided to open Oz Chicken & Korean Bistro, and share their take on Korean Bistro with the Coquitlam community!
Insadong Korean BBQ Restaurant
Located in what some refer to as “Korea Town” in Coquitlam, Insadong will make you feel like you are at a Korean BBQ in Seoul. The themed interior is the backdrop for authentic, mouthwatering and exceptionally crafted Korean dishes and BBQ.
Learn more about the Chinese cuisine from our Foodie 101 spotlight on Chinese Food in Coquitlam. Also, check out another recent blog to Explore Korean Food in Coquitlam.
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.
Did we miss your favourite idea or place? Tell us about it! Share on social media using #explorecoquitlam or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.