There’s nothing like ringing in Chinese New Year over a delicious spread of festive dishes. Traditional Chinese celebratory cuisine is known for its delectable flavors, but it’s not the most beginner-friendly type of food to tackle. While it’s well and good to try your hand at making your own feast, some dishes are best left to professionals.
If you want to celebrate the Lunar New Year without breaking a sweat in the food department, here’s a list of traditional Chinese New Year fare and where you can order them.
Nian gao (tikoy)
Nian gao is a glutinous rice cake that comes in many versions. Here, it’s most commonly prepared as tikoy.
If you’re willing to splurge for this year’s celebrations, China Blue’s Nian Gao Treasures collection (P1,888+) is the way to go. The brown sugar, coconut orange and red date with ginger flavored rice cakes come in a limited edition jewelry case crafted by collector Christy Ng.
Bringing the family together over the holidays is another common wish during celebrations, and tangyuan is a dish that symbolizes this intention. Tangyuan is a sweet soup made with glutinous rice balls. It’s said that the pronunciation and the round balls in this dish are associated with togetherness.
Lao Beijing is a crowd favorite among Chinese expats, and it has a version of this dish filled with black sesame paste that’s available for delivery through Grab.[READ: Eat Chinese dumplings for good fortune this Chinese New Year]
A Lunar New Year feast isn’t complete without the main attraction, and that’s usually a whole roast chicken, duck or goose. A whole roasted fowl represents unity and the reunion of the whole family. Preparing the roast is a labor intensive process that can take days, but eating it could honestly take less than half an hour.
Eight Treasures Roasting has a Chinese New Year special (P4,888) that includes roast goose, chicken and blackbean spareribs.
A whole fish is also another Chinese New Year staple. In Chinese culture, eating a whole fish symbolizes prosperity. How the fish is eaten matters, too. The head of the fish must face the oldest or most distinguished guest at the table (who should also take the first bite). Flipping the fish or moving it around is also a big no-no. It’s said that this will affect the level of prosperity of people around the table or bar everyone from ever returning to China.
Although it doesn’t do delivery, Peking Garden has a Lunar New Year set menu (P11,388 for six) that includes a succulent steamed lapu lapu for takeout.
Dumplings are another staple Chinese New Year dish families can’t celebrate without. These filled rice wrappers are associated with wealth and prosperity, due to their uncanny resemblance to Chinese boat shaped ingots. Dumplings are usually steamed (but can also be fried) and served with a light sauce.
Eat Fresh Hong Kong is a Cantonese restaurant that specializes in street food, and its kuchay dumplings are not to be missed. If you’re really in a pinch (or just craving some dumplings), it delivers through Grab Food.
Good luck noodles
Everyone knows that in Chinese culture, noodles symbolize long life. Instead of cutting the noodles into more manageable length, they’re usually left uncut for Lunar new Year celebrations to literally symbolize longevity. Cutting the noodles up means bad luck, because it symbolizes cutting life short—which is a shuddering thought even if you don’t believe it.
Make no mistake, Mooring Lake Ramen is not a Japanese restaurant. Though it has “ramen” in its name, Mooring Lake serves Chinese hand pulled noodles. The noodle house serves a variety of dry, fried and broth noodles. It even has vegetarian options, as well as other dimsum dishes.