If you’re sick of Dry January or 2020 has gotten off to a crappy start, this Saturday 25th not only sees Burns Night take place but Chinese New Year too and London’s bars and restaurants are gearing up to get the party started.
2020 is the Year of the Rat and while it might not sound as cute as Year of the Dog or as fierce as Year of the Tiger, it still means there’ll be plenty in the way of Eastern celebration, from special menus to Chinese-inspired cocktails, dragon dancers to lucky red envelopes containing well wishes for the year ahead (and, in some cases, prizes).
Read on for our guide to all the best bits…
If you want to feel like you’re in a scene from a Bond film head to Hakkasan. It’s one of London’s most glamorous Chinese restaurants and the food consistently delivers – it’s certainly earned its Michelin star.
To bring in the New Year the restaurant will be celebrating with a limited edition signature menu that will represent the elements of the Chinese lunar calendar through a series of colourful dishes. Expect golden treasure pockets with abalone and wild mushrooms, decorated with decadent gold leaf, presented in a money bag no less to reflect wealth. Or the wok-fry Scottish scallop with taro mousseline and brown butter black bean sauce – the scallops are intended to symbolise new opportunities.
Dessert-wise, they’ll be a dish almost too pretty to eat – a Lucky Jie – made up of salted caramel ganache with mandarin, chilli and cocoa. Presented as a lucky Chinese knot, guests will be invited to write their wishes for the year ahead on the ribbons and hang them from the restaurant’s wooden latticing.
Priced at £88 per person
If you want a side helping of serious views with your dim sum, head to Hutong at the Shard. The restaurant in the clouds really comes to life as you sit under low lit lanterns and look out onto the twinkling city below. The Chinese New Year menu is an equally decadent affair featuring lobster with ginger and green onion bao, sichuan beef ribs and a chocolate tart with mandarin sorbet to name just a few on the nine course-strong menu.
Priced at £95 per person
Where: Level 33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Bridge (0.1 miles)
To celebrate the Year of the Rat, the Chinese Cricket Club are putting on an eight-course menu with mouthwatering dishes such as crab soup, wok-fried clams and a trio of barbecued delights. If you can’t make the actual date (Saturday 25th January), the menu will be available for a whole week, from 24th January to 9th February.
For an evening not to forget, book in on Friday 24th January to enjoy a traditional Lion Dance performance.
Priced at £48 per person
Where: Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant, New Bridge Street, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Blackfriars (0.1 miles)
Mayfair restaurant Park Chinois don’t do things by halves and for the Year of the Rat they’ll be putting on nightly entertainment from 22nd January to 2nd February. There will be entertainment throughout the week – expect music, dancing and a theatrical twist to dinner out.
But if you really want to celebrate in style book into the Chinese New Year Brunch on Saturday 25th January – a heady way to spend the weekend with Champagne, lion dancing and Chinese drumming. Or, for all-out glamour and an East meets West vibe, book into the Park Chinois and Dalmore Whisky Dinner on Wednesday 29th January for a Chinese tasting menu paired with smooth Scotch.
The Park Chinois Brunch is priced at £58 per person and the Dalmore Dinner at £188 per person.
Where: Park Chinois, 17 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, W1J 8EA
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
It might be the Year of the Rat but you won’t be smelling any rats at The Duck and Rice in Soho, just seriously delicious food. To celebrate the new year, they’ve rocked out some new specials like wok tossed crispy tofu, the especially authentic tasting Hunan Pipa prawns, and if you fancy a splurge, drunken lobster with 5-year aged Shaoshin wine.
Not sure you can narrow it down to a few dishes? The Duck and Rice thought that might be the case so have also created 3 set menus, on offer at £40, £50 and £60, with a wider selection that includes crispy aromatic duck, a vegetarian version of sweet and sour pork not to be missed, and chicken with cashewnut.
Need some more adrenaline with your meal? Every Saturday and Sunday there will be live Lion Dances* performing throughout the restaurant, pub, and Berwick Street market.
The Chinese New Year Specials dishes are available in the restaurant now until mid-February.
*Not real lions.
The fortune cookies to usurp all fortune cookies will be served at the end of P.F. Chang’s Chinese New Year meal. Lucky guests could win a free meal for two, free appetisers or free desserts. If you’re not one of those, you’ll still luck out on the food – highlights from the menu include P.F Chang’s famous crispy tempura dynamite shrimp with sriracha aioli, Mongolian beef; tender flank steak caramelised in their signature dark soy sauce and handmade lobster and shrimp spring rolls served with an aromatic Thai curry aioli.
And it wouldn’t be New Year without a tipple in hand to toast. Thankfully Bar Lab will be creating their cocktail masterpieces such as the Luck + Fortune – a fragrant pan-Asian cocktail made with gin, Thai basil, mandarin liqueur, tangy kumquat jam and a twist of sharp lemon.
Chinese New Year Menu available Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th January
If you’re after something a little different to welcome in the Year of the Rat, luxe east London hotel The Curtain is your place. They’ll be hosting an afternoon of crafting – think lantern decorating, print making and collaging with designer Ellen Rock.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to write a letter to their loved ones, wishing them good fortune and wealth for the coming year. Sweet.
Tickets are priced at £20 per person, include all materials and a welcome drink.
Said to be Kate Moss’ favourite restaurant, China Tang at The Dorchester is a decadent choice for CNY. Tuck into the eight-course menu of Cantonese classics set against a backdrop of Chinese lanterns and cherry blossom covered walls that look like something out of 1930s Shanghai.
There’ll also be a traditional Lion Dance through the restaurant to bring prosperity and good luck.
Friday 24th and Saturday 25th January
What better way to bring in the Year of the Rat than in one of London’s most Instagram-worthy Chinese restaurants. KYM’s, by Michelin-starred chef Andrew Wong, will be putting on a delicious New Year feast, a stunning lantern installation and, what for it, 3,000 prize-filled fortune cookies.
Wong has created an exclusive five-course menu to welcome the festivities which includes the Prosperity Salad – a Cantonese-style raw salad with salmon topped with plum sauce dressing; Kym’s signature Three Treasures (Crispy Pork Belly, Iberico Char Siu, Slow Poached Soy Chicken); and Yuzu Layered Cake to finish.
The menu will run from 13th January until 9th February,
Spend one night in Shanghai without leaving W1 at W London’s Perception Bar. There will be traditional dance shows, Chinese performances, night-time revellers and, unexpectedly, hip hop.
Be mesmerised by playful dragon dancers and indulge in signature sips infused with flavours from the Far East.
Where: 10 Wardour Street, Leicester Square, London, W1D 6QF, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus (0.2 miles)
For something different, head to The Westbury Mayfair where they’ll be serving up an Asian-inspired afternoon tea to celebrate the new year. They’ve added a sweet touch to the experience by giving guests two mandarin oranges as they arrive – a traditional symbol of wealth and prosperity for the coming year.
The tea is anything but cucumber sandwiches and stale scones, instead, tuck into delights such as Tea Quail Eggs (green tea, croustade, umami mayonnaise, dill and red shiso) which come beautifully presented in edible eggcups and Polo Bao (steamed buns) which are served with a mouth watering char siu filling (Chinese barbecue pork).
Sweet treats come in the shape of a Pineapple Tart cocooned with Instagrammable 20-carat edible gold leaf, no less. But the cherry on top of the whole tea is the Matcha Mousse – basically an edible bonsai tree. Devine.
Check out our round-up of Burns Night (taking place on the same night) here.