January marks the Chinese New Year, a 15-day period culminating on the eve of the 28th, when people will welcome the Year of the Rooster through dances, fireworks, and good food. Red envelopes bearing cash (the Chinese equivalent of Christmas gift exchanges) are handed out to children, and specific "lucky" foods promising good fortune are enjoyed. Fish is high on the list, because the word in Chinese sounds similar to the word “surplus.” Dumplings and spring rolls (named for the Spring Festival, AKA Chinese New Year) are also must-haves because they represent wealth.
Miami already has a reputation as a party town, and celebrating the Chinese New Year in style is no exception. Head to any one of these restaurants to welcome the Year of the Rooster with special holiday menus and festivities.
This Cantonese gem inside the Fontainebleau Miami Beach offers a Chinese New Year prix fixe that runs through February 11. It's priced at $128 per person, and items include the Fortune Tale – a traditional Chinese prosperity dish that is prepared tableside and features roast chicken, jellyfish, and mooli (AKA daikon radishes).
“It is meant to symbolize the combination of many efforts for your fortune. We use chicken because it’s the year of the Rooster. Making it tableside is to show all the different characteristics and attributes that you want in your personality – to show how you bring the person together as a whole,” Fontainebleau executive chef Thomas Connell explains.
The meal also includes a dim sum platter, a signature Hakkasan dish, using four flavors to represent the four seasons. Main courses include steamed Dover sole with pumpkin, stir-fried tiger prawns with lemongrass and chili, and braised abalone with dried oysters. For dessert, indulge in the Golden Feather – a ginger panna cotta with mandarin and caramelized white chocolate.
On January 28 beginning at 8:45 p.m., a traditional lion dance, believed to bring good luck and fortune, will be performed. Guests can share their hopes for the coming year by writing wishes on red and gold ribbons.
2. The Mandarin Oriental
The fire rooster will be welcomed at this renowned hotel by way of the Peruvian-Asian fusion menu at La Mar, as well as specialty cocktails at MO Bar + Lounge.
Start at MO Bar + Lounge with the Red Rooster, made with whiskey infused with tangerine and rosemary, Chinese five-spice syrup, lemon juice, jasmine, and ginger ale, or the Brickell Rooster, made with highland double rye, lychee saketini mix, cherry spice simple syrup, and Ancho Reyes liqueur ($14 each). Then stroll over to La Mar for steamed branzino with soy sauce, cilantro, Chinese wine, and scallions ($52) or tapadito chifa with sautéed chicken, tonku mushrooms, ají amarillo, and vegetables ($28).
Festivities will run from Monday, January 23, through Sunday, January 29. The menu will be offered during lunch and dinner. On January 28, a traditional lion dance will be performed in the hotel's lobby at 7 p.m.
3. Da Tang Unique
This Brickell restaurant will throw a 15-day celebration featuring a prix-fixe menu, live DJs, shows, and the chance to win a seven-day trip for two to China. Priced at $55 per person (not including tax and gratuity), the eight-course family-style dinner includes wok-sautéed shrimp with walnuts and a freshly steamed dumpling sample platter with a variety of fillings, including eight treasure mushroom, shrimp, duck, and chicken. Other dishes are steamed sea bass with garlic and black bean sauce and green prawns with white sauce and water chestnuts. Desserts are red velvet cake and an assortment of sorbet flavors, such as lychee and passionfruit mango. The festivities run from January 27 through February 11, and a dragon dance will be performed January 27 at 9 p.m. in the lobby of the Four Ambassadors. Guests will be able to interact by "feeding the dragon" as it offers symbolic expressions of luck, fortune, wisdom, and joy.
Chef/owner Richard Hales is diving into the Year of the Rooster by offering a variety of vegetarian options at his hip eatery in midtown Miami. Each dish is carefully orchestrated to hit all Chinese New Year symbolism. Enjoy the wealth dim sum, consisting of edamame dumplings with Sichuan hot oil and soy, local farm vegetable egg rolls with hot mustard and sweet-and-sour sauce, crispy turnip cake, long-life noodles, and vegetarian dan dan mian. Follow the vegetarian dishes with snapper. End the meal with Chinese New Year cake — a red-bean cake served with almond-cookie ice cream. Each guest receives a lucky Chinese red envelope containing the restaurant's currency to use on future visits. The family-style dinner costs $65 plus tax and gratuity, with a two-person minimum to order.
5. Jaya at the Setai
Jaya at the Setai is offering a three-course Peking duck menu to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Choices include Peking duck wrapped in bamboo leaves with tangerine marmalade and bok choy, and dessert truffles with duck bacon and chocolate. The meal costs $95 per person and will be available Saturday, January 28, through Saturday, February 4.
6. Talde Miami Beach
On January 28, Talde at the Confidante will ring in the Chinese New Year with a night of celebration. Guests can enjoy a special four-course prix fixe for $49 per person, which includes some of Top Chef alum Dale Talde’s favorite dishes. Hot-and-sour soup, egg rolls, fried rice, kung pao beef, and Peking duck are some offerings. Good-luck rooster cocktails will be available all night long for $12, and Chinese New Year giveaways will be offered to the first 50 guests participating in the prix fixe option.
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7. Gold Marquess Fine Chinese Cuisine
This popular Chinese eatery, located at 8525 Pines Blvd. in Pembroke Pines, will offer a holiday menu now through February 10. Items include braised abalone with oyster sauce (market price), crispy golden lobsters stir-fried with peppers ($28.90), and crispy flounder (28.90). Meat eaters can enjoy black peppercorn lamb chops with steamed broccoli ($28.90). Poon choi — a one-pot, special-occasion dish consisting of layered seasonal vegetables topped with abalone, mushroom, fat chop, dried scallops, dried oysters, whole shrimp, and roast duck, and roast chicken — will also be available. It comes with two ginger-and-scallion lobsters and stir-fried garlic snow pea tips and serves ten people ($288).
Golden Marquess will also present a traditional lion dance Saturday, January 28, and Sunday, January 29. Both shows are expected to begin right after 7 pm.
Alona Abbady Martinez lives in Plantation, Florida. She writes about food and family on her blog, Culinary Compulsion, and is working on her book, My Culinary Compulsion, a global food memoir with recipes. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.