The seven-day Chinese New Year celebration starts this Monday, February 8, and more than a billion people are expected to ring in the year of the monkey. Since it’s a great excuse for a party, I spoke with Kathy Fang to learn how to host the ultimate Lunar New Year soirée. Fang is practically Chinese royalty in San Francisco—her father opened the House of Nanking, one of Chinatown’s most popular restaurants in 1988, and she grew up in the kitchen. Today, she owns and runs Fang, a luxurious multi-level restaurant specializing in delectable Chinese food. Here are her tips for throwing a fun East-meets-West night in!
- Start with dim sum, and don’t be afraid to order takeout. “Purchase your favorite dim sum offerings and some authentic bamboo steamers to keep up with the theme,” Fang says. “Add servings of stir-fried noodles, fried rice served in Chinese takeout boxes, and chicken or shrimp satay skewers to the buffet so your guests can mix and mingle while they chow down.”
- Create an Asian-inspired martini bar. “Provide vodka, gin, and a supply of exotic fruit juices like passion fruit, lychee, mangosteen, and mango," Fang suggests. "Allow guests to garnish with fresh herbs like mint, Thai basil, lemongrass, thyme, and fresh fruit like berries or sliced mango.”
- Serve hot pots as the main course. “Invite friends and family to gather around your table with your very own at-home hot pot! Asian markets have both hot pots and varieties of sliced shabu meats, which you can pair with a fresh selection of vegetables to swish away in the hot broth of your choice. Add some dumplings and different noodles to the mix that guests can use to play chef.”
- Dipping sauces are essential. “My favorites are ponzu, sesame sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ShaCha sauce if you can find it,” Fang says. “Provide fresh chopped green onions and minced garlic to add to dipping sauces.”
- Decorate with red and gold. “Red and gold are festive colors for the holiday. In addition to decorating with them, encourage your guests to dress in the theme and wear these colors,” Fang recommends.
- Incorporate nature and a sense of abundance. “Chinese families often feature cherry blossoms, tangerines, kumquats, Chinese candies and cookies, and nuts and flowers in their home to honor the holiday," Fang explains. "Guests should experience the abundance of these items when arriving to your home for the celebration.”
- Don’t forget the red envelopes. “One of the most important aspects of the Chinese New Year celebration is the red envelopes! Oftentimes adults give money in these envelopes to the younger generation. Filling them with chocolate coins is also a common practice, which you can take part in and pass out to your guests.”
Order the red envelopes now, and buy a big package of them to use as décor.
How will you celebrate the Chinese New Year?