Food News

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with Wok Star's Eleanor Hoh at Smorgasburg

Left to right: Dan Cao, Ms Dan’s Chinese; Gaston Becherano Cohen, founder Smorgasburg; Wok Star's Eleanor Hoh.
Left to right: Dan Cao, Ms Dan’s Chinese; Gaston Becherano Cohen, founder Smorgasburg; Wok Star's Eleanor Hoh. Wok Star photo
Chinese New Year, the start of the new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, starts this year on January 22 and ends on February 1, beginning a year of the rabbit, according to the Chinese zodiac.

Eleanor Hoh, who hosts Wok Star cooking classes and Supper Club events, says that the goal of Chinese New Year is to wish a year of peace and prosperity to loved ones. "The main reason for Chinese New Year is to enjoy family and friends," she says.

Hoh also tells New Times that everyone is invited to celebrate Chinese New Year. "Everyone — all over the world — is invited to enjoy Chinese New Year."

To help celebrate Chinese New Year, Hoh shares some New Year traditions that all can celebrate.

Hoh suggests giving red envelopes or packets filled with money to friends and family. Remember, though, it's not the amount of money that counts (though the number "four" is considered bad luck)— it's the envelope itself that's most important. The red envelope is a symbol of wealth and good luck.

She says wearing red socks and underwear also attracts good luck for the new year. The Wok Star cheekily adds that those ruby-hued undergarments can do double duty for Valentine's Day, only a few weeks further down the road.

Lastly, don't sweep your floors during New Year's, or you'll sweep all your good luck out of your home.

Hoh has collaborated with Smorgasburg to host a weekend-long Chinese New Year celebration filled with food, entertainment, and some surprises. On Saturday, January 21, and Sunday, January 22, Smorgasburg will channel an Asian street food market with red lanterns, paper umbrellas, and origami cranes.

The weekend will be filled with music, dance, and activities, including a lion dance troupe, a pop music Taiwanese violinist, and interactive Chinese horoscope actors who will help you discover which of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals you were born under. Hoh says that each animal sign has distinct characteristics and that they're usually spot on. "My husband is a Rabbit and he's affectionate, shy, and talented."

Smorgasburg will offer calligraphy and art classes for kids led by Dan Cao (Ms. Dan's Chinese), and a full bar helmed by Michelin-starred restaurant Los Felix serving natural wine, specialty cocktails, and craft beer.

And, of course, there's the food. Several Smorgasburg vendors will offer special Chinese New Year's dishes, including dumplings and fish — which represent prosperity and wealth for the coming year, according to Hoh.

Some items to look out for at the 60-plus vendors at Smorgasburg include:
  • Tio Paella - Cantonese fried rice
  • D’Abruzzo - XinJiang skewers
  • Tempest Tea - dragon fruit green tea lemonade
  • D' Pura Cepa • pionono egg rolls
  • Mao's Bao - JiaoZi (boiled dumplings)
  • Elote Lovers - elote en vaso, topped with teriyaki chicken
  • The Wrapper - spring roll wrap
  • Raclette Street - veggie stir fry topped with raclette
  • The Dutch Fry  - Asian street fries with pork char siu
  • Los Felix - blood orange-sake margaritas
  • Wet Burger - sweet and sour wet burger
  • Coney Burger - Szechuan short ribs burger
  • Kome Oyster & Sushi Bar (guest vendor) - chicken tostadas with mango salsa
Hoh says she's especially pleased with how many non-Asian vendors at Smorgasburg are honoring the Chinese New Year with their fusion dishes. "I don't care about authenticity. Food is about doing your own thing, making it tasty, and inviting people to have a great time. That's what being a Wok Star is all about."

Chinese New Year at Smorgasburg Miami. Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, January 21, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, January 22, at 2600 NW Second Ave., Miami; 954-246-3537; smorgasburgmiami.com. Admission is free with RSVP via eventbrite.com.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss

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