Mark the date in your diaries: London's Chinese New Year celebrations officially begin on 5 February, and there are a whole set of events ready to bring swathes of red and gold to the streets of London. The city's main celebrations are ready and geared up for Sunday 10 February, where the West End will be lit up with the buzz of activities, music and the dragon and lion dance snaking through central London and Chinatown.
We love watching the crowds, but we love all the special menus London's restaurants put on for the occasion even more. According to the Chinese zodiac (where each year is represented by one of 12 signs), this is the Year of the Pig. We think that's pretty appropriate, given our favourite pastime is eating – and eating well – so we've done you a service and rounded up some of the best places to celebrate in London.
During Chinese New Year, food and drink is that bit more special. There's wine specifically for the festival and certain dishes, such as cakes and desserts, take on symbolic meanings. You can read up a little more about it here or just keep scrolling and book your table at one of the restaurants and special collaborations below. While you're loading up on some great food you might even learn a thing or two…
BaoziInn Romilly Street
5-19 February; 24 Romilly Street, Soho, W1D 5AH
There's no better place to celebrate Chinese New Year than at Romilly Street's BaoziInn, where the popular restaurant will be putting on a sparkling specials menu, filled with jewel-coloured dumplings and silky dan dan noodles. Available from 5-19 February, the excellent Chinese New Year Special Set Menu will set you back a humble £29.50 per person, and since it's for a minimum of two, you'll need a partner in (delicious dumpling) crime to indulge in all the Szechuan and Hunan-style dishes, too. But if that's not your jam then Baozilnn will also be serving up 'lucky red lantern' xiao long bao – aka minced pork and crab meat soup dumplings, flush with the colour of Chinese New Year thanks to the natural red dye of the spicy chilli dough.
1-16 February; 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ
Ring in the Year of the Pig in style at Mei Ume at the Four Seasons Hotel in Ten Trinity Square. With an opulent Chinese New Year menu (served from 1-16 February) from head chef Tony Truong and a guest calligrapher on hand, the already-beautiful restaurant will take on another dimension as the team dress the space with swaying red lanterns and mandarin trees. Dim sum, five spice-pigeon and jellyfish salad are on the menu, and Truong is set to present a Chinese New Year cake known as nian gao – a traditional cake made with glutinous rice, which is said to symbolise the promise of a better year. There will be glitz, there will be glamour and, yes, there will be a Chinese-inspired cocktails to wash it all down with.
XU Teahouse & Restaurant
5-28 February; 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL
Putting a Taiwanese twist on all the Chinese New Year celebrations, XU Teahouse will be teaming up with Fergus Henderson (of St. JOHN) and Margot Henderson (of Rochelle Canteen) for a one-off dinner. Marrying together XU's Taiwanese and Chinese flavours with the Hendersons' commitment to nose-to-tail eating, the menu will feature the likes of yellow-bean trotter pie and blood cake wonton. The tasting menu (£70pp) will take place on 19 February, but if you can't make it XU will also be putting on a special Chinese New Year menu – with standout dishes including sea bass served in fermented pineapple sauce and master stock poached goose served with Chinese olive greens and burnt spring onion – until the end of the month, too.
Bun House and Tea Room
1-10 February; 23 Greek Street, W1D 4DZ
Bun House's Chinese New Year offering is almost too cute to eat: its piggy-shaped buns are filled with sweet and sticky char siu pork and decorated with pointy pink ears and a sweet snout. One of the speedier ways to ring in the Year of the Pig, the buns are available to eat in or to go and come in at £2.80 per piggle. But if you want to linger for longer, then the Tea Room, downstairs, is also celebrating the New Year with a list of specials from 3-5 February, including a traditional festive feasting pot of Cantonese poon choi and a one-off collaboration with Willem Barentz Gin which will see you sipping on a grapefruit and jasmine aperitif under the sultry glow of the Tea Room's neon lights. Cheers to that.
Wander X Kaizen House
5-7 February; 214 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7HU
Wander, the Stoke Newington Aussie-inspired restaurant by Alexis Noble, has teamed up with chef Elizabeth Haigh to dish out a special 'Kaizen House' menu to commemorate Chinese New Year. The spread will be a contemporary take on Haigh's family celebrations with a touch of her nose-to-tail ethos. Hong shao rou – a whole pig slowly braised in spices – and Chinese vegetables with wok-fried salt and pepper sweetbreads will be big high hitters to look out for. But the pair have also teamed up to serve a couple of modern twist on classic dishes, too – including a Haigh favourite: sesame banana fritters with miso kaya caramel. Sign. Us. Up.
4 February; Level 33 at The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
The reunion dinner at the Hutong – the sky-high northern Chinese restaurant on level 33 of The Shard – will mimic the tradition of one of the most important get-togethers in the Chinese calendar: the family meal on Chinese New Year Eve on 4 February. Overseen by chef Wang, you can expect the likes of pork rib in Szechuan peppercorn sauce, sweet and sour deep-fried dover sole and sweet rice cakes. Of course, it doesn't stop there, because while you're looking out over the sparkling London skyline, you'll also be treated to a traditional lion dance as well as the gift of handwritten 'good luck' wishes from a Chinese calligrapher. Sounds like quite the night, if you ask us.
Of course, this is just a select few of London's ever-impressive Chinese New Year celebrations. If you'd like more of where this came from then head on over to visitlondon.com to discover the best of the rest