Lunar New Year — also known as Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, Tết Nguyen Dan, or Seol-Nal — starts on Sunday, January 22, to honor the Year of the Rabbit. Widely celebrated in countries like Vietnam, China, Korea, and Taiwan, the annual festival is marked by family get-togethers, dragon dances, and traditional gifts like money-stuffed red envelopes.
A lively Lunar New Year parade through D.C.’s Chinatown, complete with performances and a firecracker finale, is scheduled for January 22 (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) to kick off week-long festivities. Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Courtyard Café will offer a special lunchtime menu in honor of Lunar New Year on Saturday, January 28. That same day, Tysons Corner Center and the Asian American Chamber of Commerce host an event with artists, musicians, and giveaways outside the lower-level Nordstrom wing.
Here’s a running list of area restaurants hopping into the Year of the Rabbit with dishes, pop-ups, and dine-in or to-go dinners symbolizing prosperity, longevity, and peace for 2023.
The Wharf’s modern Vietnamese restaurant Moon Rabbit naturally goes big for the Year of the Rabbit. Chef Kevin Tien invites diners to enjoy Lunar New Year at home with a to-go dinner menu featuring salt and pepper fried shrimp, whole fried chicken, and more from January 23 to January 28. A themed dine-in menu is also on tap.
And on Sunday, January 29, (6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.), Tien celebrates the Year of the Rabbit while giving back to the AAPI community with a seven-course fundraiser dinner featuring seven chefs (Masako Morishita, Susan Bae, Erik Bruner-Yang, Yuan Tang, Paolo Dungca, and Tim Ma). The $200-per-person evening with auction items reignites his giving initiative #ChefsStoppingAAPIHate. Reserve here.
3400 11th Street NW
In honor of Lunar New Year, chef James Wozniuk’s essential Malaysian restaurant sends out specials like with a yee sang salad (cured salmon, mixed vegetables, peanuts, sesame, and plum sauce); steamed half chicken with a 24-hour brine with ginger scallion sauce; and spicy Chinese pork jerky with Shaoxing wine and sambal oelek. Offered all day on Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22.
101 MGM National Avenue, Oxon Hill, Maryland
For Lunar New Year at the National Harbor casino, its soaring Conservatory is dressed up in a 15-foot animatronic rabbit, jade rock fountains, and a money tree from January 20 to March 18 with a lion dance on January 22 at 6 p.m. Swing by pan-Asian restaurant Ginger for crab and lobster specials.
1200 19th Street NW
To celebrate Chinese New Year, chef Peter Chang’s debut D.C. restaurant offers a special eight-course menu ($88 per person) from Sunday, January 22 to Saturday, January 28. Highlights across the prix fixe spread include walnut prawns, whole striped branzino, giant pork meatballs, and pastry chef Pichet Ong’s Singapore tart. View menu here.
1608 14th Street NW
Chiboo Bakery and Capitol Jill Baking pop up at Logan Circle’s Asian specialty goods store for Lunar New Year’s Eve on Saturday, January 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The for-sale collaboration calls for special macarons, sourdough snacks, and sweets influenced by the owners’ upbringings in Malaysia and Vietnam.
455 I Street NW
Mt. Vernon Triangle’s scene-y spot for dim sum and cocktails full of French spirits has a big Lunar New Year dinner set for Sunday, January 22. The lengthy a la carte lineup ($7-$18) includes pork and shrimp wonton soup, salt and pepper shrimp, pork belly bao, crab rangoon, char siu chicken and rice, spicy Singaporean fried fish with garlic sauce, Shaoxing wine, and jasmine rice, chocolate cheesecake, and more. There’s also seven kinds of veggie, meat, and seafood dumplings, including French onion beef gyoza with gruyere, Swiss, pickled onions, cilantro, and aioli or chicken jiao zi with corn, shiitake, toasted sesame, and chef’s soy. The special cocktail of the evening is a “Baijiu Colada” (Plantation dark rum, Ming River Baijiu, coconut cream, pineapple, lime). Reserve a seat online.
Chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno’s beloved Chinese-Korean counter (Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, and Bethesda) offers a Lunar New Year menu for two ($80) on Monday, January 23. The meal set includes shrimp and apple kimchi, Chinese celery and peanut salad, garlicky chicken and rabbit dumplings, beef and chewy rice cake skewers, Chinese red braised beef short rib, chilled black bean clams, a tangerine upside-down cake, and more (preorder here). In addition, daily specials through Sunday, January 29 include traditional dduk guk (beef bone broth, sliced rice cakes, pulled brisket, seasoned ground beef, egg strips), rotating entrees like shellfish stir fry, and $40 tasting menus. Guest chef Mama Lee—aka Danny Lee’s mom—prepares spicy rork rib galbi jjim on Thursday, January 26. Order packages or a la carte items here.
418 7th Street NW
José Andrés’ Peruvian mainstay in Penn Quarter that pays homage to native Criollo, Chinese Chifa and Japanese Nikkei cuisines has an array of a la carte specials for Lunar New Year. Choose from pork wonton soup, spring rolls with sweet chili sauce, and stir-fried rice cakes, and black sesame-filled rice balls in rosewater ($9-$14). The zhaì yuì (whole fried fish with Taucheong sauce, cilantro, ginger scallions, and fresno pepper) is $38. Celebratory cocktails ($14) include “Tea Service” with Pu’Er aged black tea, Ron Cartavio Peruvian rum, cinnamon, and orange. Served Sunday, January 22 to Sunday, January 29. View the menu here.
2411 18th St NW
Celebrate Lunar New Year at the two-story hot spot in Adams Morgan with happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24. Enjoy themed cocktail specials like a “Little Red Envelope” ($9) and lion dances. Remember to bring cash to “feed” lions for good fortune in the new year.
301 Water Street SE; 1407 T Street NW; 4238 Wilson Boulevard
The local ice cream chain (Navy Yard, Shaw, Ballston) offers five-flavor flights in honor on Lunar New year. Options include miso caramel peanut butter cookie; dan tat brûlée, which draws inspiration from Chinese dim sum egg custard tarts; red bean almond cookie; roasted barley tea; and vegan sorbet comprised of Japanese plum wine and pears. From January 13 to February 12, each locale offers mini-scoop tasting flights and take-home pints during operational hours (tickets are $19). Customers can also ship gift boxes of Lunar New Year flavors via Goldbelly.
1050 31st Street NW
The glitzy Rosewood hotel restaurant puts an American fine-dining spin on classic Chinese dishes and ingredients with a three-course family meal for Lunar New Year. Find scallion bread served with whipped duck rillette, scallops over mung bean noodles, wagyu beef and foie gras bao, whole black bass, lotus root with black trumpet mushrooms, and more ($165 per person). Served Tuesday, February 7, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; reserve on OpenTable.
Cut’s executive chef Andrew Skala invites some big culinary names from near and far to help him cook, including chefs Scott Drewno and Danny Lee (Chiko and Anju); Mei Lin (Daybird in Los Angeles); Henji Cheung (Queen’s English); Trigg Brown (Win Son & Win Son Bakery in NYC).