Gung Hei Fat Choy! Today the Lunar calendar ushers in the Year Of The Horse and on most people's minds are to eat all the Chinese food. But before sitting down to the feast, consider this: According to the experts, the Horse is a particularly feisty mare that is guaranteed to give most a rough ride and a high-degree of indigestion. All the more reason to ease the stress with tonight's festivities, but, before heading out, remember to pre-order a year's supply of antacid.
1. Hang with Susur Lee in Hong Kong
The airfare alone kills the budget but Susur's idea for a great night, as told to Toronto Life, is very enticing: "There's this old farming village and how they celebrate is by making poon choi. It is almost like a European bouillabaisse with layers of food and they put it on a big table and everybody shares. They stand up eating together and it's almost like hot pot. The land and the ocean and the field, everything is in there."
2. Hang in the Financial District
Guest chef Nick Liu of GwaiLo fuels a Chinese New Year Pop-Up at the Drake One Fifty for one night only. Combat the tough year ahead with fried quail, side-stripe prawn lettuce cups, crispy sweet and sour pork hocks, and whole-fried trout.
3. Go North
Pack up the family and get thee to Magic Wok, a Cantonese cuisine institution in Markham. If it's impossible to get a table, try Gourmet Malaysia, Lucky Chinese, Congee Queen, Chung King Garden or basically any restaurant north of Steeles that has space.
4. Go Corporate
P.F. Changs, the American-Chinese chain, celebrates the New Year with thousands of dollars in giveaways at all their Canadian restaurants. Dining at their Don Mills location may be the furthest thing from an authentic Chinese restaurant experience, but the promise of free stuff is all that matters.
5. Eat A Horse?
No amount of protesting could convince La Palette, the French bistro on Queen West, to take their horse dishes off the menu. The Black Hoof followed up with horse tartare. Burger King was caught serving horsemeat burgers. Don't shoot the messenger: It's out there.
6. Honour The Old School
They are the standby Chinese restaurants that the downtown crowd relies on every single day so why would tonight be any different? Drop in for a reliable bite at King's Noodles, Xam Yu, Swatow, Asian Legend, Lee Garden or any number of the others.
7. Do Nothing
Chinese New Year is just another holiday that makes everyone feel inadequate for not having the Best. Night. Ever. If the pressure is too great and motivation is seriously low, order in cheap Chinese (or microwave some frozen eggrolls), watch a Chinese film, then GoogleTranslate some phrases into Cantonese and jump on ChatRoulette to give them a shot.
8. Be Counter-Culture
Eat a grilled cheese.