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Chinese New Year is fast approaching and we have picked out the best places to enjoy the celebrations. From lantern-lit festivals to lucky eight-course banquets, here are our picks to welcome in the year of the monkey.
Monkey buns at Din Tai Fung
Dumpling chain Din Tai Fung recently opened in Melbourne's Emporium shopping centre, and will be treating everybody with their limited edition Chinese New Year monkey buns (pictured). As 2016 marks the year of the red fire monkey, what better way to celebrate with chocolate and banana-filled steamed buns. The monkey buns ($4.80) will be on offer throughout February.
Level 4, Emporium Shopping Centre, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, 9654 1876, dintaifung.com.au
Chinese high tea at the Hotel Windsor
The Hotel Windsor will be offering an oriental-inspired afternoon tea incorporating classic Asian ingredients and flavours. Pastries with cumquat, lychee and peach, plus dim sim-inspired savouries will appear on the traditional tiered tea stands for two weeks from Monday, February 8. The afternoon tea menu ($69 per adult; $25 for children 3-6 years; $40 for children 7-12 years) includes lychee eclair, traditional Chinese egg tart and scallop toast with sesame and camomile.
111 Spring Street, Melbourne, 9633 6004, thehotelwindsor.com.au
Neil Perry and head chef Graeme Hunt's Chinese New Year menu is designed to inspire a prosperous and healthy year. The banquet menu ($95, matched wines $55) will be served at lunch and dinner from February 1-13; lion dancers will perform on Saturday, February 6. Dishes include raw tuna yu sheng with spicy orange oil (representing prosperity); stir-fried spanner crab with mung bean noodles and garlic chives (harmony); and pineapple sorbet with soft licorice and raspberry (love).
Flower Drum's celebrations will run over Chinese New Year's Eve (February 7) and Chinese New Year's Day (February 8). Special additions to the dinner menu include a suckling pig platter; lo hei (sashimi ocean trout salad), dried oysters and nian gao (traditional Chinese New Year cake). Flower Drum's festive dishes symbolise good health, wealth and prosperity for the new year. Traditional lion dancing will take place in the restaurant during dinner service.
17 Market Lane, Melbourne, 03 9662 3655, flowerdrum.melbourne
The Hotel Windsor
The Hotel Windsor will serve a Chinese New Year's Eve banquet in the grand ballroom on Sunday, February 7, at 6.30pm. Executive chef Joel Alderson will team up with Northern Light's Adam Liston to put a contemporary spin on oriental dishes such as scorched snake beans and garlic scapes (flowers) in jamon XO sauce; Otway shiitake mushrooms, fresh yeast and chrysanthemum; and pandan doughnut, white chocolate and lychee. Guests will be greeted with "eight treasures" (appetisers) upon arrival before the eight-course feast ($238) commences.
111 Spring Street, Melbourne, 03 9633 6004, thehotelwindsor.com.au
Lee Ho Fook
From February 9, modern Chinese restaurant Lee Ho Fook's menu will feature traditional, festive dishes such as ocean trout, yee seng salad with plum and yuzu dressing and crispy wonton skin. Note: The restaurant is closed on Chinese New Year's Eve and Day (February 7-8).
11-15 Duckboard Place, Melbourne, 9077 6261, leehofook.com.au
Ruyi will ring in the Lunar New Year with an eight-course banquet menu from Saturday, February 6, until Monday, February 8. The menu includes pork and crab xiao long bao, steamed barramundi in soy-lime broth, and tingling lobster. Two sittings available, at 5.30pm ($85) and 8.15pm ($95); customers dining during the second sitting will be treated to traditional lion dancing each night. Matched wines available for $55 per person.
16 Liverpool St, Melbourne, 9090 7778, ruyi.com.au
Markets and festivals
Lunar New Year Festival at Dandenong Market
For those in south-east Melbourne, Dandenong Market will treat you to a free, one-day event on Sunday, February 14, to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The family-friendly festival will combine Chinese arts and culture with Asian street food and entertainment from 10am-4pm. Food stalls include Mr Yatai, Kabayan Restaurant, Vietnamese Village and more.
Southern Car Park, Dandenong Market, corner Clow and Cleeland streets, Dandenong, dandenongmarket.com.au
Chinese New Year Festival at Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is holding a three-week-long Chinese New Year festival from Tuesday, February 2. Illuminated columns with traditional Chinese Opera masks and a Lantern Festival featuring 70 red lanterns will help festival-goers light their way into a prosperous New Year. The festival also features a traditional lion and dragon dancing, a hawker festival filled with Asian cuisines, lantern-making workshops and performances.. Queen Victoria Market is also running a guided Lucky Monkey Market Tour ($25), including tastings and stories from local Chinese traders.
Corner of Victoria and Elizabeth streets, Melbourne, 9320 5822, qvm.com.au/whats-on/category/chinese-new-year
The Age Lunar Markets at Docklands
Following the success of Sydney's SMH Lunar Markets and Melbourne's popular Night Noodle Markets, 2016 will see the debut of The Age Lunar Markets. Running from February 4-14, the street food markets will feature stalls such as Everybody Loves Ramen which will be serving up a noodle-battered chicken burger and ramen fried chicken; Hoy Pinoy Filipino skewers; and Wonderbao's guo bao steamed buns with braised and roast pork belly and fried silky tofu fillings. The Lunar Markets will feature a huge, 14-metre-long light-up phoenix and lantern installations. Open Mon-Wed 5pm-9pm; Thu-Fri 5pm-10pm; Sat 4pm-10pm; Sun 4pm-9pm.
Harbour Esplanade, Docklands melbourne.lunarmarkets.com.au