The year of the Snake officially begins on February 10, but Chinese restaurants all across DC, as well as the Virginia and Maryland ‘burbs, are already kicking off the festivities with special menus and events. Dishes such as savory dumplings, tangerines, whole fish and fried sesame balls are all said to bring eaters good luck during Chinese and Lunar New Year, so fill up on auspicious eats at these local spots.
Located at the gates of DC’s Chinatown, Richard Sandoval’s Zengo is known for its weekend bottomless brunch of small Latin-Asian plates. Chef de Cuisine Graham Bartlett will serve special dishes during the last three weekends in February, including scallop and bacon gyoza and Pekin duck with orange coriander sauce.
Ping Pong Dim Sum, in Chinatown and Dupont, is hosting a series of events from Feb. 10 to 24, including donating a portion of the proceeds from their limited-edition rum-based Snake Venom cocktail to the Chinatown Community Cultural Center, special performances and give-aways for guests.
Susur Lee’s Zentan in Thomas Circle is featuring unique sushi rolls and a signature cocktail to mark the holiday. The Cobra is a combination of Chivas and absinthe, sour lemon grass syrup and egg whites, while the Anaconda roll is stuffed with shrimp tempura, fresh asparagus, spicy tuna and green pepper seaweed.
The Source has developed a tasting menu to mark the occasion, which will only be served from February 12-23. Each course is symbolic, from the wok-fired Maine lobster (red represents joy and happiness) to steamed tangerine cake and handmade fortune cookie(“tangerine” has a similar pronunciation to “money” in Chinese). Executive Chef Scott Drewno is hosting a dumpling class on February 9, and he and Master Chef Wolfgang Puck will host a dim sum reception in Source’s lounge on February 11 with unlimited dumplings and sparkling wine.
Hollywood East Cafe in Wheaton will feature several lion dance performances in February and a traditional banquet on February 8, hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier. Don’t miss the Hong Kong longevity noodles and steamed Prosperity cakes known as Faat Go. Noodle lovers also enjoy the generous bowls of soup at MaMa Wok and Szechuan specialties from congee to duck tongues at Joe’s Noodle House – both in Rockville.
Arlington, Annandale and Falls Church boast plenty of Chinese options, including Chef Liu Chaosheng’s tongue-searing trio Hong Kong Palace, Uncle Liu’s Hot Pot and Mala Tang. Diners at Arlington’s Mala Tang should ask for the lobster special served during the holiday.