We have officially slithered into the Chinese Lunar New Year, which began on Feb. 10, and indeed, it is the year of the snake.
2012 was the year of the dragon, which is the most favorable in the 12-year cycle. (I might be a little biased, as my birth year falls during this cycle.) There is much speculation about what the year of the snake has in store -- whether it will be prosperous or disastrous -- but you can always count on one thing at the beginning of the Chinese New Year: a grandiose celebration with food aplenty.
Chinatown is an integral and historical part of New York City, so clearly residents here start the New Year with a bang (literally) -- a firecracker ceremony kicked off the Sunday celebration. The festivities culminate with an extravagant parade and festival one week later on Feb. 17. This year is not to be missed, as participants are attempting to break a Guinness World Record for the largest number of dancers in a Lunar New Year parade (a reported 10,000 marchers have signed up).
Amid celebrations, why not venture off to discover some delicious dim sum? Dumplings are a symbol of wealth in Chinese culture, so don’t feel guilty about having one too many. Visit one of these bustling Chinatown spots and have a feast for good fortune: Jing Fong, Oriental Garden, Mandarin Court or Nom Wah Tea Parlor.
Explore traditional Cantonese cuisine at Congee Village in the Lower East Side (try the pork and preserved egg porridge) and Chinatown classic Wo Hop -- both delectable and affordable eateries in a city of expensive restaurants.
Remember to finish your culinary journey at Aji Ichiban (referred to as “Munchies Paradise”) to get your sweet fix. Bins of Asian candies and snacks, like dried sugar-dusted ginger and lychee-flavored gummies, are available to sample (for free) and take home. Happy New Year!