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Joseph Weaver

Here Are the Most Delicious Ways to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in the San Francisco Bay Area

The Year of the Rabbit is hopping its way into San Francisco on January 22 with plenty of delicious food options

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Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

It’s about to be the Year of the Rabbit, symbolizing prosperity, longevity, and peace. While we don’t know what this new year will bring you, what we do know for sure is there are plenty of places to eat and celebrate the Lunar New Year around the Bay Area.

If you’re looking for a celebratory dinner to share with family or a loved one, or special desserts to enjoy from home, here are some of the best things to do around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Things to do around San Francisco and the Bay Area

The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the Grande Dame of the city’s Lunar New Year celebrations and with good reason. The parade has been running in some form or another since the 1860s and has expanded in scale and size since. This year’s parade will be held on Saturday, February 4, at 5:15 p.m. with events like the Flower Market and Community Street fairs running from January 14 through February 5. Until Sunday, February 5, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce is also installing five rabbit sculptures around the city, much like it did in 2021 and 2022 with ox and tiger statues, respectively, which are perfect for some Lunar New Year photo ops.

For the little ones in your household with an interest in food or cooking, Culinary Artistas in Ghirardelli Square has some fun activities planned for its Lunar New Year Cooking Camp, running on Monday, January 23 for those ages 4 through 10. For more details, head to the Culinary Artistas website. And if you, as an adult, wished you had your own version of culinary camp, Dumpling Club in the Mission is hosting a weekend of dumpling wrapping classes — with drinks and snacks, of course — for those ages 10 and up (all children under 18 must have their own ticket and be accompanied by an adult). Multiple classes will be held Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29.

Over in the East Bay, there are also a number of events and activities to attend. Teance in Berkeley is hosting a Lunar New Year Celebration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 29 with lion dance performances, a tai chi demonstration, and more; baker Patty Lu will also be there with her pop-up, Year of the Snake, which is known for its Asian American pastries and egg tarts. If you’re looking for something a bit more active, the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center is hosting a cooking demonstration and paper crafts at the Berkeley Yacht Club, but also more importantly, a chance for folks of all ages to try their hand at paddling a dragon boat. Head to BRCC’s website for more details. And lastly, if visiting an art gallery featuring the work of AAPI artists is more your speed, Hellvella Art in Oakland is hosting an opening party for its new exhibit, Lucky Rabbit, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, January 21. The Lucky Rabbit show will run from January 21 through February 11.

Make reservations at these restaurants

It should come as no surprise that George Chen’s food complex is ready to go for the Chinese New Year. For fine dining, Eight Tables is launching a five-course, prix fixe menu for $150 per person, which will change monthly. China Live will also launch its special Chinese New Year menu starting Tuesday, January 10 with items such as nian gao new year’s cake, made with pork, chives, and China Live’s XO sauce; Chinese “rarebit,” four cheese-topped baked vegetable buns; Shanghai-style lobster in spiced chile jiu niang wine sauce; Dungeness crab prepared two ways, either salt-and-pepper style or in a ginger scallion sauce; peach-shaped longevity buns. All the special items will be available for pickup, delivery, and dine-in.

Empress by Boon, the impressive restaurant by chef Ho Chee Boon, will be offering a special eight-course, prix fixe menu for $168 per person, from January 23 through January 27. Expect items such as crab roe xiao long bao; abalone fat choy; lobster with sweet chile sauce; grilled Chilean sea bass with fermented bean curd; dried scallop with peanut rice mushrooms, dried shrimp, and lotus seeds; morel mushrooms bean curd box; all ending with an egg tart. Reservations can be made through the Empress by Boon website.

Peking duck with caviar
Z&Y Restaurant

Z&Y Restaurant, meanwhile, will host a family-style, prix fixe menu for the Chinese New Year. Expect dishes such as prawns with honey walnuts; whole fish with bean chile and noodles; chicken with explosive chile pepper; soup dumplings; black pepper Angus beef cube; and Peking duck with caviar. Reservations can be made through the Z&Y website.

Those who’ve missed Martin Yan’s cooking since the closure of M.Y. China can now head to the W San Francisco for a pop-up featuring Yan and W San Francisco chef Dawn Taylor-Cole. The W’s Living Room Bar is the place to pick up dishes such as crispy black tea-braised short rib and gai lan dumplings; chile-glazed duck breast with green apple and rice noodle salad; scallion pancake and pork belly tacos with a hoisin glaze and pineapple and cabbage slaw; Chinese 5 spice flourless chocolate cake and ginger ice cream. The pop-up is running from 5 to 11 p.m., January 17 to 31, with a special event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 20 featuring a dragon dance and “complimentary takeaways” for the crowd.

E&O Kitchen and Bar will also be offering some specials for in-house dining and to-go from January 24 through February 4. Menu specials include a prosperity salad featuring Dungeness crab, avocado, and citrus on a bed of salad greens; pork and kimchi potstickers; long life noodles made with wagyu beef, maitake mushrooms, chrysanthemum, and carrots; and a steamed fish fillet, made with sea buckthorn ponzu, ginger, scallions, and rice cake.

On the other side of the bay, Oakland’s Viridian has yet to announce details on their Red Envelope Lunar New Year pop-up, but expect new additions to the cocktail and food menus (and over-the-top decor), if last year’s event is any indicator. Meanwhile, the pop-up Immi, by chefs Kevin Law and Rumpasri Chicharoen, is turning up at Oakland’s Pomet for a special one-time-only dinner on Sunday, January 22. Reservations are available via Tock.

Bring the feast home with these to-go options

Beyond dumpling wrapping classes, Dumpling Club will soon release a menu of frozen dumplings they’ll sell for customers to pre-order and make at home. The sale is set to go live on Tuesday, January 10, at 9 a.m. Follow the @dumplingclub account on Instagram for the latest information on the menu and pre-order links.

Meanwhile, Berkeley’s own Kaokao Grill is offering a pre-sale of its popular holiday five-spice smoked ducks for the Lunar New Year. The new restaurant has been offering smoked duck via pre-order at the holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this time, they’re expanding the menu to include a meal kit made to feed 4-6 people that includes 12 bao, prepped green onion and cucumbers, and house spread sauce. The ducks are sold for $75 each, with the optional meal kit option running at $25. Pre-orders can be made here, with three pickup times set for Sunday, January 22.

Make the new year sweet with these stellar pastries

Annie’s T Cakes

For those looking for the sweet side of Lunar New Year celebrations, look no further. Annie Wang with Annie’s T Cakes became popular for the almond cookies she created for the premiere of the film Everything Everywhere All at Once and she’ll have those cookies available for the new year. But along with that, she’s also launching Tanguan Soup Kits in four flavors: black sesame, red bean, peanut, and ube. The ube tangyuan is not traditional, but instead a collaboration with chef Ace Boral of Baba’s House Kitchen in Oakland. Each kit will feature pre-cut ginger slices, sugar, goji berries, and instructions on how to make the soup. Pickups can be scheduled for January 19 through 23 at Little Giant Ice Cream, or January 20 through 21 at Baba’s House Kitchen. Pre-orders can be made via the Annie’s T Cake website and will close by Sunday, January 15.

B. Patisserie’s Lunar New Year menu dropped on Instagram, featuring a mix of items available for pre-order on the weekends. There are kouign amanns, of course, in black sesame and mango lychee flavors; red bean vanilla, matcha strawberry raspberry, and mandarin orange tarts; peanut butter and condensed milk bostock, and more. Pre-orders are available now via Tock, with pickups on the weekends, running from January 21 through February 5.

Kimberly Yang with Formosa Chocolates also has some sweet treats ready for the new year. She’s creating a confection she’s dubbing “Asian Twix” filled with miso caramel (with miso from Shared Cultures), as well as black sesame shortbread. There are a limited number of box sets available, and pre-orders can be made on the Formosa Chocolates website as of Tuesday, January 10.

Sunday Bakeshop is offering its Lunar New Year pastry box, with $5 from each box going toward local businesses affected by the storm. Eight pastries will be in each box, featuring an assortment of items such as a char siew pastry puff; nian gao, or “new year’s cake”; che ba mau twice bake croissant; strawberry White Rabbit cookie, and more. An 8-inch matcha mango tart and 9-inch nian gao are also available for purchase, as well. Pre-orders are available on Hotplate with pickups available on both sides of the Bay Bridge, at the Oakland bakeshop, and at Neighbor Bakehouse in San Francisco.

Asian American bakery Bake Sum in Oakland is also selling a Lunar New Year desserts box with some shop favorites coming back. Expect the black sesame bun with kumquats; red bean milkbun; Okonomiyaki danish; green onion croissant; mochi bites; and almond cake. Pre-orders can be made via Hotplate.

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