by Nikki Metzgar - 206 Reviews - 77 List
February 14 may find you embracing your lover over a box of chocolates, but in 2010 that day is an important one for another reason. The Lunar New Year also falls on Sunday, kicking off the year of the tiger, according to the Chinese zodiac. Chinatown will be bustling with celebration so check out our guide to the festivals and food.
Updated: February 10, 2010
SATURDAY FEB. 13, 10am-4pm, free. The Chinese Community Center's annual Lunar New Year Festival will begin with a few words from Mayor Annise Parker around 11am and continue on with special exhibitions on origami and Chinese calligraphy, food stands and raffles. Expect huge but happy crowds at the traditional dragon and lion dances.
SATURDAY FEB. 27 to SUNDAY FEB. 28, 3pm-8pm, free. If the actual New Year weekend is already overbooked, breathe easy. Another Lunar New Year festival, this time hosted by local nonprofit TexAsia, will take place outside of Viet Hoa supermarket two weeks later. Traditional dances, martial arts demonstrations and the dragon rounds will be capped off with a fireworks display.
SUNDAY FEB 21, 10am-4pm, free. This popular, late-night fast-food joint has been hosting lion dances in its parking lot for years. While most of the other festivities will only feature recorded firecracker noises, revelers at this celebration actually light thousands of the red firecrackers meant to scare off evil spirits.
TUESDAY, FEB. 16, 7pm. This Houston beacon for Cantonese dining will be hosting a prix-fixe banquet prepared by notable chefs in Asian cooking, Hoi Fung, Dorothy Huang and Martin Yang. Spots will likely fill up fast but groups can also opt to come in any time for a special 10-person menu featuring lucky New Year foods.
While not exactly restaurant fare, there are several types of snacks and candies that herald good luck in the new year. Visit this enormous Asian grocery for chocolates shaped like bricks of gold, red-dyed melon seeds and chewy lotus candies.
We love our late-night congee and barbeque pork buns on the run, but the proper way to celebrate this holiday is with a feast. Arco is a clean, slightly upscale Cantonese restaurant that specializes in seafood while remaining affordable. We heartily recommend the Peking duck and eggplant claypot.