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The Year of the Rabbit (or the Year of the Cat) arrived on Sunday, January 22, which means Chicagoans all over town are celebrating the new year in the coming weeks. 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 noon on Saturday, January 28, at Argyle and Winthrop. Chinatown’s annual Lunar New Year parade featuring the traditional lion and dragon dancers will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, January 29, 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 2023. Here are some of the most intriguing offerings from around Chicago.
Armour Square: The dim sum specialists at New Furama (not to be confused with the Uptown location) are embracing the optimistic spirit of the Lunar New Year with poon choi (also spelled “pun choi”), a traditional Cantonese festival meal characterized by layer upon layer of ingredients in a single hot pot of broth. The restaurant is offering servings for eight or ten people with numerous components including abalone, sea cucumber, roast duck, lotus root, and much more. The special will be available for at least one more week and interested parties should call soon to pre-order at least 24 hours in advance of the reservation. Pun choi at New Furama, 2828 S. Wentworth Avenue.
Chinatown/Uptown: Chi Quon, Chicago’s oldest traditional Chinese bakery, is a year-round wonderland of sweet and savory delights. In honor of the Lunar New Year, its team brought back its popular Fortune Cakes, steamed brown sugar cakes designed to resemble gold ingots to bring celebrants wealth and prosperity in the coming year. Fans should run — don’t walk — as the cakes are available for a limited time. Lunar New Year at Chi Quon Bakery & Dim Sum, 2253 S. Wentworth Avenue; 1127 W. Argyle Street.
Lakeview: 2d Restaurant, the unusual cafe known for mochi doughnuts and an intricate hand-drawn interior, has a series of specials lined up for the Lunar New Year. These include a box of “Lucky Six Mochi Donuts” with flavors like winter persimmon and Taiwanese pineapple cake, available through Friday, February 10. There’s also a dragon-shaped doughnut created in partnership with the Chicago Bulls and Haines Elementary (available through Tuesday, February 21), with profits going toward pediatric cancer foundation Bear Necessities, and opportunities to play Si Bah Lah, a Taiwanese dice game played by families to celebrate the holiday. More details are available on the restaurant’s website. 2023 Lunar New Year Celebration at 2d Restaurant, 3155 N. Halsted Street.
Little Italy/Wicker Park/Schaumburg: Japanese-style soft serve mini-chain Kurimu is marking the annual celebration with special flavors that vary between locations. Patrons at the Taylor Street shop will find White Rabbit Candy with purple yam, Wicker Park gets Vietnamese coffee with toasted almond, and suburban customers can try White Rabbit Candy with English earl grey. Lunar New Year at Kurimu, 1159 W. Taylor Street; 1632 W. Division Street; 601 N. Martingale Road #165.
Wicker Park: Asian American restaurant Mott St from chef Edward Kim is hopping into the Lunar New Year with a Supreme Feast, a seven-course tasting menu of favorites including pork dumplings, rabbit laap with fresh Thai herbs, wok-smoked gai lan, and mango sticky rice. Those looking to amp up the celebration can add a whole fish for an upcharge. The special is available through Sunday, February 5. More details and reservations are available via Tock. Lunar New Year Supreme Feast at Mott St, Available now through Sunday, February 5, 1401 N. Ashland Avenue.