Year of the Dog begins Feb. 16, but celebrations run through the weekend.
By Marene Gustin
If you want to usher in the year of the dog and celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, you’re in luck: There’s plenty to do and eat right here in Houston.
“It is like New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving in one,” says Kyle Fu, a well-known sci-fi artist, TV producer and origami practitioner. You can catch him teaching the paper-folding art at his booth next Saturday at the Chinese Community Center in Bellaire. The New Year actually starts February 16, but the center will host a free festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 17.
“It is really about family, gathering all the members together to celebrate,” Fu says of the holiday. “In China, everyone takes two weeks off, and the family just hangs out together, eating and celebrating. We go to the community center for dragon dances and performances. There are fireworks, and the older people give the younger ones red envelops with money inside.”
Asia Society Texas Center will also celebrate the New Year on Feb. 17 and 18 with a festival at the museum space and at the Galleria. Expect Chinese lanterns and Hong Kong wishing trees, and create your own year-of-the-dog masks, camel decorations and kimono cards.
But of course one of the biggest part of the celebration is the food. And there are plenty of great Asian restaurants in town if you don’t want to cook at home. Some will also offer entertainment.
“We’ll celebrate Saturday,” says Donnie Roy, the general manager at Ginger and Fork. “We’ll have a whole crispy pig, and we bring in dragon dancers and acrobats.”
Auntie Chang’s Dumpling House has been a staple for authentic Chinese food inside the loop for ages. On the upper level at Shepherd Square in Upper Kirby, the restaurant features handmade dumplings, delicious crispy soft shell crabs and the spicy sesame chicken. You can treat yourself and the whole family to a New Year’s dinner on Friday that everyone will enjoy.
Out in Stafford, Regal Seafood is the place to celebrate Chinese New Year with Hong Kong-style Cantonese fusion dishes like king crab and jumbo lobster served family style. Or maybe order the traditional whole Beijing duck carved tableside. Owner Edmend Mo also owns the sister restaurant E Tao in the Galleria. Here you can start your celebration meal with traditional dishes such as fish and dumplings for prosperity. The fireworks here are of the culinary kind; dishes pack plenty of heat so you’ll want to keep the Chinese wine flowing.
Jenni’s Noodle House has four locations to tempt your taste buds, and, yes, the specialties here are the noodles, which all come from Jenni’s mom’s recipes. Try the chili oil beef ramen or the Big Jim Cup-O-Pho with fat rice noodles, beef, basil and onions. Do grab a Vietnamese iced coffee to top off the meal.
As for Fu, he says it just would be a New Year’s feast without moo shu pork.
“My family is from Sichuan,” he says, “so we like spicy food.”
• Asia Society Texas Center
1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004
• Auntie Chang’s Dumpling House
2621 S Shepherd Dr #290, Houston, TX 77098
• Chinese Community Center
9800 Town Park Dr, Houston, TX 77036
• E Tau
5135 West Alabama, Houston, TX 77056
• Ginger & Fork
4705 Inker St, Houston, TX 77007
• Jenni’s Noodle House
(4 locations in Houston)
3111 Shepherd Dr. @ Alabama
2027 Post Oak Blvd @ Westheimer
602 East 20th St. @ Oxford
3773 Richmond [email protected] Timmons
• Regal Seafood
12350 Southwest Freeway, Stafford, TX 77477