If you plan to celebrate the Year of the Horse in traditional fashion, Vancouver (and Richmond) holds no end of excellent options, but perhaps you fancy something a little different this year — a Chinese New Year celebration with a bit of a twist, perhaps?
For sophisticated surroundings and the opportunity to pair handcrafted cocktails with your meal, head to Chinatown, where both Bao Bei and Bambudda are presenting special menus for the Lunar New Year. Or, for a real adventure, take a walk on the surprising side with AleStake Supper Club on Thursday, where craft beers will be paired with a five-course menu in a secret location.
Check out some of the dishes on alternative Chinese New Year menus. Story continues below:
At Bao Bei, owner Tannis Ling decided to amp up the restaurant's usual CNY offerings, with a full tasting menu drawing on traditional foods eaten over the holiday.
"In the past, we've done special dishes like squab or trout," Ling told The Huffington Post B.C. "This time, we wanted to take some of those traditional ingredients — lotus seeds, oranges, fish, sticky rice cakes — and make smaller plates, presented a little nicer."
The set menu — 11 dishes, plus an assortment of snacks — is $35 a head until Feb. 1. Each course represents something the diners would wish for the coming year from "wealth" (represented by mantou — steamed pork belly buns), through "peace and abundance" (whole, pan fried trout), to "luck" (orange jello).
Down the road at Bambudda, owner Ray Loy looked back at the family meals he shared growing up with new immigrant Cantonese parents in Strathcona. Loy told HuffPost B.C. his mom would always bring a duck home from Chinatown, and that's where he started when conceiving the restaurant's special dishes with chef Scott Korzack.
Duck lovers can enjoy the meat presented in steamed buns, with chrysanthemum greens on a tea-based jus, or try a basket of crispy fried gizzards. Wash down this delicious bounty with a choice of three specially designed Chinese New Year cocktails.
The crew at AleStake Supper Club took a different approach when creating their five-course celebratory feast.
"The menu was created out of a mutual love of Northern Chinese cuisine," one of the team told HuffPost B.C. in an email. "We decided on a non-traditional approach, utilizing local ingredients, to create a menu that we would personally drool over."
Guests — who find out the location of the meal when their reservation is confirmed — can look forward to dishes such as lemongrass and prawn congee, with quail egg and dark opal basil seed oil, and beef flank and shimeji mushroom with dumpling in spicy Northern broth, all paired with different beers from Delta's Four Winds Brewing.
Reservations for the one-off dinner (suggested donation $75) this Thursday, Jan. 30 should be made via email to email@example.com.