January 28 marks the start of the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, as it’s more commonly recognized. San Francisco is home to the largest and oldest Chinatown in North America, and the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Needless to say: San Francisco takes Chinese New Year seriously, with dancing, parades, film screenings, and art exhibits. It’s a perfect opportunity to try Chinese-inspired cuisine, or try something exclusive at a favorite restaurant.
Throughout San Francisco, restaurants, bars, and hotels are offering special dishes and dining experiences to sate a venturesome appetite and honor the importance of community and Chinese heritage. Whereas western New Year typically focuses on one raucous night, Chinese New Year celebrations can last weeks (as do some of these offers), giving you ample advantage to make the most of welcoming the Year of the Rooster, or Lunar Year 4517 if you're feeling formal.
What: Greet the new lunar year with a limited menu that features a waltzing collins cocktail with sake and baijiu, a traditional Chinese prosperity salad with roasted chicken and jellyfish, and exclusive dishes like braised abalone with fat choy and dried oyster, wok-fry tiger prawns with lemongrass and chili. On January 28, diners can experience a Chinese Dragon Dance, believed to bring good luck and fortune. The limited Chinese New Year menu is priced at $128 per person.
Details: Friday, January 13 through Saturday, February 11 at 1 Kearny St.
What: Executive Chef Tony Wu recalls the New Year dinners cooked by his grandmother in an eight-course dinner for six that includes a “Fortune Platter” of roast duck, squid, jellyfish cucumber and barbecue pork, a fourth course of Maine lobster with duck egg, and a sixth course of organic fried chicken. The eight-course menu is $288 for six, coming out to $48 per person.
Details: Saturday, January 28 through Saturday, February 11 at 845 Market St., Suite 480
E&O Kitchen and Bar
What: A brand new dish of dungeness crab and chicken siu mai dumplings will help you start the Year of the Rooster with an eager and adventurous appetite. The Chinese New Year menu includes long life noodle, whole crispy fish, and specialty cocktails. Every table will also receive red envelopes with prizes ranging from free fritters to a complimentary dinner for two.
Details: Sunday, February 5 through Monday, February 20 at 314 Sutter St.
What: If you’re as hungry for a good cause as you are for unique dining experiences, Mister Jiu’s is hosting an eight-course menu with dishes created by chefs from around San Francisco: Rupert and Carrie Blease (Lord Stanley), Nick Balla and Cortney Burns (Motze), Brett Cooper (Aster), Sarah and Evan Rich (Rich Table), and Belinda Leong (B. Patisserie). All proceeds will benefit the Chinese Historical Society of America. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here.
Details: Monday, January 30 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 28 Waverly Place
What: A limited run of steamed baos of beef tongue and duck (signifying luck in Chinese tradition) will be on offer for diners who want Chinese-inspired cuisine with a view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco waterfront.
Details: Saturday, January 28 through Saturday, February 4 at Hotel Vitale, 8 Mission St.
What: If you’re traveling to San Francisco for Chinese New Year, or a local wanting to treat yourself, The Ritz-Carlton is offering an array of epicurean experiences under their “Year of the Rooster” package. This includes an eight-course meal at Parallel 37 (with duck-infused wonton soup and foie gras dumplings) and a variation of its traditional afternoon tea service in the lounge with Chinese-inspired tea sandwiches and pastries. The dinner is $180 per guest; the tea service is $75 per guest.
Details: Dinner at Parallel 37 is Saturday, January 28 from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. The tea service is available Saturday, February 4 and Saturday, February 18, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 600 Stockton St.
What: In homage to the cuisine from Tangra, a Chinatown in Calcutta founded by Hakka Chinese over 100 years ago, both locations of Dosa will feature Indo-Chinese dishes like gobi manchurian and paneer chow mien during the Chinese New Year weekend.
Details: Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29 at 1700 Fillmore St. and 995 Valencia St.
What: The friendly neighborhood purveyor of frozen confections is bringing back one of its most popular sundaes, “Chinese Food & Donuts”, with oolong ice cream, an orange blossom Dynamo Donut, soy caramel, and crushed sesame.
Details: Thursday, January 26 through Saturday, January 29 at 2790 Harrison St and 1 Sausalito, Ferry Building
Rice Paper Scissors
What: If you’re more of a morning person (or were out on the 28th and want to keep the vibe going), Rice Paper Scissors is hosting a Lunar New Year brunch at Wine Kitchen. The menu will include chicken pho, spicy lamb dumplings, and Lunar New Year cake (in Chinese and Vietnamese versions). And since no holiday (or brunch) is complete without daydrinking, Wine Kitchen will have sparkling white sangria and 33 Beer on hand.
Details: Sunday, January 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 507 Divisadero
What: The French-Vietnamese restaurant will be offering a la carte dinner specials on January 28, including bahn cahn (a traditional Vietnamese wheat noodle soup) and ca chem (roasted whole sea bass with pickled vegetables and ginger broth). Plus, if you prefer to think of tea as more of a ritual than a drink, on February 11 there will be a Lunar New Year tea service for $30, which includes Mighty Leaf teas, sandwiches, pastries, and tartlets.
Details: Dinner is on Saturday, January 28 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m, and tea is on Saturday, February 11, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m, both at 20 Cosmo Pl.