Places to Celebrate Chinese New Year
in New York City
An arched neon sign marks the entrance to Chinatown in lower Manhattan. In the outer boroughs, Flushing, Queens, and Brooklyn's Sunset Park also have high concentrations of people of Chinese heritage. Storefronts in those neighborhoods stock Peking duck, dragon fruit, ginseng. At this time of year they're selling holiday goods -- candy monkeys, gold wrapped chocolate coins, and colorful red envelopes used to give children gifts of money to help ward off evil.
The legacy of Chinese immigrants is celebrated in exhibits at the Museum of Chinese in America which is holding a multi-event lunar new year family festival with zodiac themed arts and crafts, music and dance performances, artist demonstrations and storytelling.
"Monkey Business: Celebrating the Year of the Monkey, an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art runs through July with related lectures, activities and events. At the China Institute the exhibit "Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties" illustrates the evolution of Chinese art from the past into today.
Museum of Chinese in America
Exhibit at Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
In Chinese families, New Year's Eve dinneris an important meal, a time of reunion, and customarily eaten at home. But many restaurants offer special holiday menus and it's a good time to dine out with excellent choices all over town. Favorites in Chinatown include the XO Kitchen, a no fills "diner" with a wide choice of selections from dim sum, noodles, congees, snacks, and family-style entrees, and the Golden Unicorn where families wait in line for tables to be rewarded with dim sum served from steaming carts. Mr. Chow and the cross town branches of Shun Lee are popular classics.
Convenient in midtown, Philippe is noted for Philippe Chow's exquisite Beijing-style cuisine served family style. Sophisticated "white table" ambience welcomes a chic Upper East Side crowd and celebrities generating magazine "mentions." In the back room, perched on comfortable leather banquettes under a spacious skylight, guests sip Lychee Martinis and dine on Salt & Pepper Lobster, Chicken Satay, and Beijing Duck carved tableside and dubbed "the best in NYC."
Philippe Dining Room Interior
A few blocks away, the Wu family's China Fun is a convivial storefront with sturdy marble columns and a lively atmosphere, a popular neighborhood eatery that draws New Yorkers for fresh and innovative dishes prepared by executive chef Wing Fong Chen. Dishes on the menu concocted especially for the New Year's holiday start with bunny shaped Lucky Dumplings, proceed to main course choices of Mango Steak, Kumquat Chicken, Braised Pork Belly, glistening Mixed Vegetables, Golden Jackpot shredded chicken showered with candied pine nuts, finishing off with Lotus Seed Buns for dessert.
China Fun Dining Room Interior
For the fun of it, pursue the "monkey" theme at the legendary Depression-era Monkey Bar. Featured in "Sex and the City," it's an enduring "place to go" where celebrities and notables sip cocktails in the ambience of monkey statues and wrap-around hand painted murals of cavorting primates.
And don't neglect paying a visit to this New Year's namesake creatures. Stop by to say hello to the "snow monkeys" (Japanese macaques) at the Central Park Zoo. Other species-- gelada and haadryas baboons, white-faced saki monkeys -- can be greeted at the city's other zoos in the Bronx, Queens, Prospect Park, and Staten Island.