Restaurants in Chinatown gives taste of staple foods in celebrating Lunar New Year

Janice Yu Image
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Exploring staple foods in celebrating Lunar New Year
Janice Yu explores foods that serve as staples in Lunar New Year celebrations at Hakka Cuisine in Chinatown. Janice Yu has the story.

CHINATOWN (WABC) -- It's the year of the rabbit, which means fresh starts, renewed hopes, wishes of wealth, and plenty of food.

To get a lesson in Chinese New Year foods, I visited Hakka Cuisine.

It's a newer restaurant that serves food of the Hakka Chinese people and the first of its kind in NYC's Chinatown.

One of the dishes is called a Hakkanese pun-choy, or you can call it a big bowl feast.

It's just that: a big bowl filled with vegetables and a plethora of seafood rich in flavor.

The dish's origin is just as rich. It's a food that symbolizes community and pitching in what you can.

"In the old we all lived in a village with different families. Each family might cook something, something they specialize in or with ingredients they have in their home. We put them all together and it comes with a big pot. Then we eat together," Lydia Li of Hakka Cuisine said.

Fish and duck are staples for Chinese New Year, and are so foods you'd be hard-pressed to find on your average dinner table.

This is a symbolic way to usher in wealth for the coming year.

"This is called braised abalone and fish. It symbolizes 'rich' because these are rich, expensive ingredients. It's rare. This is rich people's food," Li said.

And of course, a feast is only as good as the company you share it with.

"It means a lot. It is celebrated all throughout Asia. Get rid of the old. Welcome the new. It's a rich, rich history," Steven Tin of Better Chinatown said.

The celebrations are a time for family, friends, and even strangers to come together and share a meal.

"Food is our number one pastime. We love to eat food. Children love it because in the Chinese American heritage, get new prosperity. Get rich," Tin said.

Happy Lunar New Year!


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