The Year of the Tiger arrives on February 1, which means Chicagoans all over town will be celebrating the new year in the coming weeks. Though the omicron variant is putting a slight damper on some festivities, the mood is far more celebratory than it was last year, when restaurants had to make their holiday feasts to-go-only affairs.
Naturally, now is as good a time as any to patronize the many excellent restaurants in Chicago’s Chinatown, as well as the Vietnamese-heavy stretch of spots known as Asia on Argyle in Uptown. The Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration and parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 5, at Argyle and Winthrop. Chinatown’s annual Lunar New Year parade featuring traditional lion and dragon dancers will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 13, at the intersection of 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue.
Those on the hunt for super-celebratory food are in luck this year, as the city’s chefs and bartenders have concocted a selection of creative pop-up collaborations, special menus, and events to celebrate Lunar New Year 2022. Here are some of the most intriguing offerings from around Chicago.
As of January 3, the city has mandated that those ages 5 and up be fully vaccinated and masked at public places indoors while not actively eating or drinking. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.
Around Town: Chef Jennifer Kim (Passerotto) is offering a limited number of Year of the Tiger kits for two through her experimental hospitality project Alt Economy, according to an Instagram post. One of the selections has sold out, but diners can still order roasted pork belly boxes that include hoshigaki hoisin, Kokuho steamed rice (daechu, furikake), nabak kimchi, mushroom peanut chili crisp, toasted almond cookies, and satsuma oranges. Alt Economy Lunar New Year Celebration Box, Available for pickup noon to 3 p.m. in Portage Park and for delivery within Chicago 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1, Place orders online via Alt Economy.
Around Town: Monday Snack Gathering (MSG) — a collaborative effort between local pop-up power players Kelly Ijichi (Mom’s), Lorraine Nguyen (lolo_agogo), Roshelley Mayén (Juanitas Bebidas), and Joey Pham (Flavor Supreme) — is offering special Lunar New Year kits for pickup and delivery on Monday, January 31, according to an Instagram post. Kits for two include dumplings (pork or tofu), wheat noodles (umami broth, char siu mushrooms), corn rice pudding (coconut milk, hibiscus syrup), plus boozy or spirit-free cocktails. MSG Presents Lunar New Year Kit, pickup and delivery Monday, January 31, Place orders online via Snackette.
Chinatown: Hit pop-up Nine Bar, the popular pandemic pivot from veteran bartenders Lily Wang and Joe Briglio operating out of the venerable Chinatown restaurant Moon Palace, will mark the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, February 1, with a menu of playful snacks, according to an Instagram post. Chefs Glenn Wang (Moon Palace) and Nick Jirasek (Ludlow Liquors, Ox-Bow School of Art) as well as small-batch ice cream makers Michelle Back and Dylan Heath (Banana Phone) will contribute to the lineup. Patrons can expect delights like biang biang (wide noodles, spicy cumin eggplant, bok choy, cilantro), chicken adobo “nugs,” and budae-jjigae corn dogs (spam and sausage, kimchi and American cheese mornay, ramen crunchies). Lunar New Year Snacks at Nine Bar inside Moon Palace, Tuesday, February 1, 216 W. Cermak Road.
Chinatown: Rotary sushi mini-chain Sushi Plus is offering an opulent family-style Year of the Tiger platter that includes abalone gunkan, Hokkaido scallop with truffle, hamachi and maguro sashimi, and more, according to a Facebook post. Sushi Plus Rotary Chinatown, 2131 S. Archer Avenue, Order by phone at (312) 929-2446.
River North: Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s virtual restaurant Ben Pao is offering a special new year’s family meal on Tuesday, February 1, for same-day pickup. The menu includes egg rolls, cold peanut noodles, sesame chicken, seven flavor chicken, Mongolian beef, Sichuan green beans, vegetable fried rice, and jasmine rice; the cost is $50 for two or lucky $88 for four. Chinese New Year with Ben Pao, Tuesday, February 1, 51 W. Hubbard Street, Order via Tock.
South Loop: Stock up on bao — both sweet and savory — at Bau Bao Treats, in the indoor farmers market at L+A Healing Studio on Sunday, January 30. Owner Christina Sung bakes Chinese buns with fillings like Chinese barbecue pork, chocolate cream, and bacon and date. Bau Bao Treats, Sunday, January 30, L+A Healing Studio, 2018 S. Michigan Avenue, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wicker Park: Asian-American hot spot Mott St from chef Edward Kim is running a limited edition multi-course Lucky Eight Lunar New Year Feast, available Friday through Sunday, February 6, according to an Instagram post. Offerings will include Thai-style papaya salad, wok-smoked gai lan, “everything” garlic tiger shrimp noodles, and mango sticky rice. Lucky Eight Lunar New Year Feast at Mott St, Friday, January 28 through Sunday, February 6, 1401 N. Ashland Avenue, Book reservations online via Tock.