For all you can eat and dim sum
Today marks the beginning of the Year of the Ox, and Australians across the country are set to get their wonton on and take a bao to the Chinese New Year, with more than 10 million dumplings expected to be consumed over the next two weeks.
While there are many amazing restaurants offering auspicious Chinese New Year banquets with dumplings aplenty, you can also enjoy a Chinese dumpling feast at home.
“The humble Chinese dumpling really is becoming a household favourite for Australian families all over the country,” says Nancy Chen from Mr Chen’s Dumplings. “The easy convenience of preparing dumplings at home really has taken off and we are seeing more and more people sharing dumplings for dinner and other celebrations now.”
A Mr Chen’s dumpling is now consumed every two seconds in Australia, and this will no doubt increase over the next fortnight or so. Dumplings are traditionally eaten around Chinese New Year, as their shape is a symbol of wealth. Sometimes, cooks will hide lucky coins inside them, and whoever discovers a coin (without breaking their tooth) is set to get the best of luck and great wealth in the coming year.
“While Prawn Har Gow is our most popular product, fluffy BBQ Pork Buns and juicy, slurpy Shanghai Soup Dumplings are hot on their tail,” Chen says.
Mr Chen’s dumplings are available in the freezer section at Woolworths, Coles and independent supermarkets from $7.50, and include vegetarian and gluten free options.
All-you-can-eat dumplings, koalas and a croc
For a Chinese New Year dumpling feast with a difference, you can plough into the Year of the Ox with an experience unlike any other at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo.
The zoo has teamed up with the dumpling masters at New Shanghai for a second year to bring back last year’s sold out all-you-can-eat dumplings event this February.
This year, guests can choose to have a festive 30-minute dumpling session in either the Koala Rooftop with the adorable marsupials or the Upper Croc Deck with a (safely distanced) view of the zoo’s resident 365-kilogram crocodile named Rocky. Both areas will be transformed into Chinese Dumpling Kingdoms complete with gold lanterns, orchid flowers, banners and, of course, plenty of dumplings.
Diners will have access to a specially crafted menu of xiao long bao and spring rolls along with dumplings from chicken and celery to pork and prawn, as well as vegetarian options. Bottomless drinks are also on offer, and as an added treat, guests will receive exclusive after-hours access to the zoo so they can meet and take selfies with iconic Aussie animals.
Three 30-minute sessions will run from 5.30pm on February 12 and 13 and from 6pm on February 18, 19 and 20. Entry is $80 per person and bookings are limited. For more information and to secure your 30-minute session, click here.
Wok this way for a CNY degustation
For a high-end feast that will ensure a fortunate year ahead, Sydneysiders can head to Aria, where Executive Chef Joel Bickford has created a special six-course tasting menu and premium eight-course degustation to celebrate the Year of the Ox.
Menu highlights include fatty pork jowl paired with Chinese broccoli, classic XO sauce and fermented black garlic; raw pearl meat from pristine coastal waters with white kimchi, soy and burnt citrus dashi; and grilled WA black marron with sea urchin, kombu and caviar.
“This year’s bespoke Chinese New Year menu celebrates new beginnings and showcases the best Australia has to offer in produce, and the flavour combinations that exemplify Chinese cuisine,” Bickford says.
Aria’s Chinese New Year menu will be available from February 17 to 24, replacing the summer tasting menu throughout this period. Bookings are available at ariasydney.com.au