Friday, 16th February 2018
Chinese New Year Celebrations
Today marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year and as per tradition, it is a day to be spent with family and friends. After our simple reunion dinner (picture below) and 守岁 (shou sui: staying up late to increase longevity of our parents) the day before, we were ready to go immerse ourselves in the festivities and soak up some Chinese New Year goodness.
Typically, we go house visiting on the first day to offer New Year greetings and receive red packets in exchange (Hong Bao). This includes eating handmade Chinese New Year goodies and participating in activities such as Mahjong and Poker. However, as we had no kin in London, we decided to go restaurant visiting instead to make up for the Chinese New Year goodies such as pineapple tarts and Kuih Bangkit that we were missing out on. And so the food adventure begins…
Seafood, especially fish, is a must-have during this period as it symbolises prosperity and we decided to go fancy by trying the Burger and Lobster in Soho. For £25 each, we had the most amazing lobster roll ever:
Not only were they generous, the lobster was very fresh too! Next, we head towards Chinatown for some ‘festive feelings’ and our main agenda: Roasted Duck. Chinatown was packed with people and lightly decorated with rows of Chinese lanterns symbolising a successful life and flourishing business.
Roasted poultry such as duck is an essential item in the dishes we eat during the New Year too as it symbolises fidelity and in some cases, fertility, which makes it a popular dish during Chinese weddings. Although the roast duck wasn’t cripsy, they were fatty and juicy – perfect for two cold and hungry young ladies.
Thereafter, we went to Naked Dough in Oxford Circus to grab some cookie dough for dessert before rushing off to The Vaults Theatre for a DROLL performance. Naked Dough was tough to find because unexpectedly, it was located in TOPSHOP. However, the cookie dough was a perfect finish to our food adventure or so we thought…
The Vaults Theatre is located in Waterloo and the entrance lies in what is called Graffiti Tunnel. True to its name, the tunnel is filled with all sorts of graffiti such as:
The DROLL performance was an eye opener and it was truly “unremittingly ridiculous”. My favourite part was when the cheating wife’s lover pretends to be a baby after her husband suddenly returns home and she spins a ludicrous tale about a fairy coming to exchange babies and replacing theirs with another (her lover). Funniest thing was, the husband bought it?!?!?!
Finally, we ended with a cup of hot chocolate from Rococo Chocolates – that is, before we attend the Chinese New Year party held by the QMUL Singapore Society.
While the Chinese New Year party was a brief meeting, the effects were lingering as they provided the last but most crucial aspect of the Chinese New Year tradition – Lou Hei. This is a screenshot from the short clip I took of the Lou Hei:
All in all, 大年初一 (first day of the New Year) in London has been a memorable and incredibly satisfying one.