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Chinese New Year is just around the corner and it's time to celebrate the year of the monkey. Sydney boasts the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside mainland China, with events all across the city. While February 8 is officially New Year's Day for the lunar calendar, Sydney's celebrations continue until late February. Here's our pick of the best.
Book in for a loud and lively dinner at Mr Wong, thanks to the lion dance performance on February 11. Lion dances are a tradition to get rid of bad spirits and welcome in Chinese New Year. Menu specials are available from February 2 to 8 and include roasted suckling pig - the restaurant will roast one whole pig each night until it sells out.
3 Bridge Lane, Sydney, 02 9240 3000, merivale.com.au/mrwong
Feast at Sheraton on the Park
Gaze over Hyde Park as you feast at Feast, the buffet restaurant at the Sheraton hotel. Its special Gong Xi Fa Cai menu includes steamed chicken with mushroom and black fungus, Chinese noodles and pancakes at the live cooking station and boiled black chicken soup with northern ginseng. Dessert is a Chinese classic - red bean milk soup. Running until February 28, dinner starts from $89 per person
Level 1, Sheraton on the Park Hotel, 161 Elizabeth St, Sydney, 02 9286 6000 feastsydney.com.au
The Burger Project
Smashing a burger might not seem like the most obvious way to celebrate the new year - but you can head to Neil Perry's Burger Project at World Square to try a not-so-usual festive menu. Special dishes available through February include the Chinese crumbed pork burger and Chinese spicy crumbed chicken, both with cucumber and Asian slaw, hoi sin sauce on a sesame bun. The best drinking match for this, of course, is the lychee iced tea.
Shop 622, Lower Ground Floor, 19 Martin Place, Sydney, burgerproject.com
Lunar Feasts by City of Sydney
From February 6 to 21, 40 participating restaurants will feature Chinese New Year menus as part of the City of Sydney's 'Lunar Feasts'. With a line-up that spans Chat Thai in Chinatown, Fat Noodle at The Star and Fu Manchu in Darlinghurst, you'll enjoy an express trip through Asian flavours.
For info on participating restaurants, sydneychinesenewyear.com
In this stylish den of bamboo vases and Chinese-inspired interiors, Neil Perry and head chef Andy Evans will serve a special banquet menu until February 13. Inspired by themes of health, wealth and fertility, it will be available for lunch and dinner and is priced from $95 per person (with matching wines for an additional $55).
10 Bligh Street, Sydney, 02 8078 1888, rockpool.com/spicetemplesydney
The Eight Restaurant
How could you not be enticed by something called 'the happiness menu'? This specialty banquet is on at The Eight Restaurant in Haymarket and it's a blockbuster offering. $1298 per table of 12 will get you a huge banquet with delicacies like braised pig tongue with dried oyster and black moss, or braised shark fin soup with shredded chicken and bamboo piths. A lion dance will also be performed on February 7 at 7.15pm and 8.45pm, and on February 8 at 7.30pm.
Level 3, 9-13 Hay Street Market City, Haymarket, Sydney, 02 9282 9988, theeightrestaurant.com.au
Palace Chinese Restaurant
Choose from three Chinese New Year banquets - Diamond, Gold and Silver - at Palace Chinese Restaurant in the Sydney CBD. Abalone, crab, pidgeon and lobster are just some of the items on these extensive menus. Prices range from $1038 to $1738 for a table of 12. Lion dances are performed at 7.30pm on February 7 and February 8.
Shop 38 Level 1, Piccadilly Tower, 133-145 Castlereagh Street Sydney, 02 9283 6288, palacechinese.com.au
Kensington Street Festival in Chippendale
Tucked near Central Park, Kensington Street's cobbled laneway will be emulating the Chinese phrase "re-nao" this Chinese New Year with an atmosphere full of life and energy. From 11am to 4pm on February 6, there will be food stalls, art workshops, calligraphy stalls and fortune tellers lining the alley. From 3pm til 7pm, the street will be filled with the sound of drums and lion dancers. MasterChef favourite Reynold Poernomo will be venturing out from his dessert bar around the corner to do food demonstrations.
Kensington Street & Spice Alley, Chippendale, Sydney, 0417 494 317, kensingtonstreet.com.au
Freedom Plaza, Cabramatta
Cabramatta celebrates the year of the monkey over two days from February 13 to 14, from 9am–4pm daily. There are lion dances and performances from local talent such as the Shaolin Kung Fu meditation temple contortionists, as well as chopstick competitions and cooking demonstrations. Finish off the evening with a fireworks display at 8.45pm.
Freedom Plaza, Cabramatta, 02 9724 7811, fairfieldcity.nsw.gov.au
Lunar New Year Festival, Parramatta
Centenary Square in Parramatta will stage New Year celebrations on February 19 from 4.30pm to 9.30pm. Food trucks are there in in force with Tsuru and Mama Linh's serving dumplings and Asian street food. Lucky red envelopes are a Chinese New Year staple and you can pick one up from the festival's God of Fortune. Traditional dragon and lion dances are teamed with modern performances from Marlisa (2014's winner of The X-Factor), the Dauntless Movement Crew and Sydney band AiAiAi. Fireworks will top off the celebrations at 9.30pm.
Centenary Square, Parramatta, 02 9806 5070, parracity.nsw.gov.au
Sydney Morning Herald Lunar Markets, Pyrmont Bay Park
This food festival is on from February 4 to 14 in Pyrmont Bay Park. There are 20 food stalls for you to browse and snack from, and the event will be dramatically decorated with a five-by-eight-metre noodle-bowl installation, complete with lanterns and seating areas. If you need just one reason to go to this, it's Black Star Pastry's collaboration with N2 Extreme Gelato. Just for this event, the dessert masters will be wowing diners with a Gong Xi Fai Cai Cake Smash: a strawberry watermelon cake smash with fire crackers (made of feuillantines and pop rocks coated with raspberry powder), pipette of strawberry coulis and 'gold coins' (constructed from gold-coated haw flakes).
The Sydney Morning Herald Lunar Markets presented by The Star, Pyrmont Bay Park, Pyrmont, sydney.lunarmarkets.com.au
Din Tai Fung
Appropriately created for the year of the monkey, the dumpling house will be offering monkey buns (pictured above). They're steamed-to-order and richly filled with banana and chocolate. Going for $4.80 each, these cute round things are only available until February 29.
Available at Din Tai Fung venues in World Square, Westfield Chatswood and Westfield Miranda, dintaifung.com.au
What's Ladurée's Chinese New Year specialty? Gold-leaf chocolate macarons. Add a little luxe and glitz to your festivities with a dozen of these limited-edition treats and red classics like raspberry and cherry almond for $58.
Available from Ladurée patisseries in Pitt Street Mall and Woollahra, laduree.com
During Chinese New Year, mandarins are considered traditional symbols of abundance and good fortune, so it's only appropriate that Newtown's MakMak Macarons will be creating mandarin and dark chocolate sweets. The metallic gold Fu characters that decorate each one continues the good fortune theme.
601 King Street Newtown, (02) 8095 0045, shop.makmak.com.au
Lotus Dining and Black Star Pastry
Sugar fiends should be happy to know that Lotus Dining at The Galeries and Black Star Pastry are collaborating on a dessert degustation for Chinese New Year. The special menu (pictured above) will run between 6-9pm on February 10 to 14. While the event has officially sold out, you can still try your luck by joining the waiting list. And you still have a good excuse to visit Lotus Dining during Chinese New Year - the restaurant will be offering $68, $88 and $108 banquet options during this period.
Lotus Dining, The Galeries, Level 1, 500 George Street, Sydney, 02 9267 3699, lotusrestaurant.com.au