Chinese New Year is this week. (It’s the Year of the Rooster, in case you were wondering.) CNY is surrounded by superstitions and traditions. For example, I think you aren’t supposed to cut your hair or clean your house for the first few days. (You don’t want to cut or clean your luck!) And, you’re supposed to wear red underwear or a red belt, especially if this year’s zodiac is yours. I tried that for a few days when it was my year. I found a five-dollar bill and got boss parking spaces, so… worth a try!
VNg is Chinese, but a born and bred New Englander, so it doesn’t get too authentic around this house. Usually, we invite close friends and family over for an evening of board games and hot pot. (Party animals!)
So, I did a little research and found a few traditional “lucky” foods to enjoy when celebrating the Chinese New Year. Regardless of your heritage, I think you will find them tasty and delicious.
Because of their visual similarity to Chinese silver ingots, Supposedly, the more dumplings you eat during CNY celebrations, the more money you will make in the new year. That sounds awesome, to me. Also, I did not know that if there are more pleats on the dumpling, they are extra lucky. If it’s too flat – that means poverty! Womp womp.
Here we go with the wealth, again. I guess since the spring rolls look “golden” they represent “a ton of gold.” Hahaha. I’m hoping I can apply this principle to my love of popcorn.
According to this website where I found most of this information, there are a “longevity” noodles which are longer than usual. Guess what these are supposed to bring you? You got it, long life!
There are a few other major foods to bring you fortune and luck. (Fruit and fish are a couple.)
If you’re in the area and looking to take part in the tradition, Jersey City has several great Chinese spots.
Glutinous Rice Cake
For those with little exposure to Asian cuisine, this might sound gross, but I promise it is delicious. It’s like a chewy, subtly sweet, sort of cake. If you’re looking for more info, try searching Niangao. Apparently, this signifies getting a promotion or raise since the pronunciation of the treat mimics the sound for “getting higher year on by year.”
This is probably one of my favorite restaurants in all of JC. They’re popular for their Shanghainese soup dumplings and spicy Sichuan-style food. My favorite dishes there are the cold Sichuan noodles, pork soup dumplings (obviously), and the spicy steamed fish.
I’ve walked past this place hundreds of times without giving it a second thought. Don’t let the decor fool you. This has become one of VNg’s favorite places to get a quick dim sum fix. Because the dishes are made to order, they’re fresh and hot. The price for dim sum is a little high, but when you balance the time and cost of getting in and out of the city on the weekend, it’s well worth it.
Okay, this is pretty much my go-to spot for “Chinese Takeout.” I love love love Singapore noodles and lo mein. And, VNg is obsessed with General Tso’s Chicken. (I told you, we’re so authentically Asian.) I’ve tried a few other takeout spots in the area, Future and Sen Hai to name a couple. But, in the end, the speed, price, and taste of Big Chef is my winner.
This is right outside the Newport PATH station, so if you live downtown, it’s a bit of a walk (or one stop on the train.) But, it has a nice atmosphere and a huge menu. I think of Confucious as a place to get more authentic plates or the tastiest versions of Americanized dishes.
The Old Spot
This is actually a new spot downtown. And, it is a spot for hot pot. Like I said, this is one of my favorite CNY activities. It’s cheap and easy to do yourself! If you’re feeling lazy or want the exceptionally tasty broth The Old Spot specializes in, get there early. It fills up fast! If you’re desperate for hot pot and can’t get a seat, try Hot Pot Best near Exchange Place. It’s more accommodating, but the quality isn’t as nice IMHO.
So, what to wear for Chinese New Year? I recommend stretchy pants and a lofty top! Oh, and don’t forget your lucky red undies. (;