Pigging Out on Chinese New Year

At the festivities on Mott St. on Sunday

more Chinatown NYC New Year pics at www.flickr.com/photos/cathyerway

It’s easy to pig out on the eve of the year of the pig. But eat out?? Wasn’t my idea. Since my family couldn’t all decide on where to go and whose place to cook in, we settled on meeting up in Chinatown for this New Year’s Eve. Torn between not eating out in New York and being an impossible family member, something had to give. But the next day, I made a humble New Year’s lunch for some friends to make up for it.

left to right: pan-fried turnip cake, potstickers and fried rice for lunch

It was an easy meal to pull off, since the dumplings were bought frozen, the turnip cake pre-packaged. Apparently, the common dim sum-style turnip cake is not such a difficult thing to prepare from scratch, but I’ve never given that a try. When you buy them by a large, vacuum-packed brick from Asian groceries, all you need to do is slice it up and fry with a little oil on a skillet. My friends, encountering the dish for the first time, remarked that it was similar to a latke, only made with turnip instead of potato. A pretty accurate estimation.

a semi-ravaged steamed whole fish at Sing Wang

On a holiday when families traditionally come home and make a feast, we instead waited for a table in the crowded streets of Chinatown, finally getting one at Sing Wang, one of the many Cantonese restaurants on Mott St. The restaurant itself was unmemorable and generic, though it was enough of a treat to enjoy a meal together out. I ventured into the same streets the next day to see the dragon dances and teeming masses of confetti-popping people clogging the street. I nearly didn’t make it out of the street in one piece. To my surprise, I noticed there weren’t any firecrackers going off, the kind that come in long strings of red paper-wrapped little tubes and that litter the streets with red papery pulp for days afterward. There must be a new law in effect this year, because the only explosions I heard on Sunday were the non-gunpowdered pops of long, thin canisters of multicolored confetti strings. I also headed down Mosco St., just off of the east end of Mott St. to grab a bag of frozen dumplings from my favorite, hole-in-the-wall dumpling house. I encountered this line of freezing sightseeers, patiently awaiting cardboard cups of freshly pan-fried pork potstickers which the restaurant has sold for some time now at 5 for $1. Word must have gotten around. Luckily, I got to skip right through the line to pick up a bag of the frozen variety.

Naturally, I’m a bit uneasy talking about eating out on a night in which you’re not really supposed to, on a blog in which the whole point is to avoid doing so. It’s put me a little at a loss for words, as if some strange karmic result were taking hold of this post. So I’m going to bail, with a final happy new year wish to all.

3 Responses

  1. Yvo

    Happy lunar new year… but now you can start the countdown all over again… like a ticker “no meals out in [ ] days…”

    If it makes you feel better, I horrified [superstitious] friends when I spent all day Sunday cleaning. *shrug* I didn’t have time to do it before then, and it seemed silly to not do anything all day because it was the lunar new year.

  2. the pauper

    man that is a crazy line. usually that line is not that crazy… the best part about that place is that people line up whenever they have that “taste of chinatown” event twice a year, but why line up when the other 363 days of the year the line is 60% shorter?

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    public with new content on a daily or at least a weekly basis. if not, and you still want to do it, you can always do research on the internet and find new knowledge every day. you can then interpret it…

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