Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur
The best places to eat, drink and celebrate in KL this holiday season
Chinese New Year is just around the corner and 2013 heralds the Year of the Snake. Marking the start of the Chinese lunar calendar, this festival is one of Kuala Lumpur’s most important cultural celebrations and officially lasts 15 days (though only the first two days are public holidays).
This year the official festivities kick off on February 10 but the celebrations do not last for just a day or two. In KL, during the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year, there will be lion and dragon dances, red paper lanterns, fake cherry blossoms and acrobatics in major malls and temples during the weekends, plus you are sure to see a fantastic display of fireworks throughout the city.
Visitors to Publika mall on February 9 and 10, 2013 will get to see a traditional Chinese opera at 17:00, plus they will also be having lion dance performances. From Friday to Sunday (until 24 February, 2013) at 15:00, Pavilion KL has a meet-and-greet session with the ‘God of Fortune’ – it is a chance to get a ‘blessing’ to bring you prosperity. Meanwhile, Thean Hou Temple (No. 65 Persiaran Endah, Off Jalan Syed Putra, KL) has a lion dance performance (at 10:30 and 14:00) every weekend from the February 9 – 24, 2013, that will take place in the temple shrine.
According to legend, on the first day of the New Year Chinese villagers used to be terrorised by a mythical creature called Nian; to ward him off they used loud sounds and the colour red. That is why today celebrants use plenty of red décor and firecrackers feature prominently during the celebrations.
Familial customs for Chinese New Year include cleaning the house to ‘sweep away the bad luck’, giving ang pows (red envelopes with money inside) to kids and making offerings to ancestors. But you can also see other more public traditions such as clothes shopping (a sign of a fresh start to the New Year) and ‘open houses’ (elaborate parties with family and friends).
One of the most important Chinese New Year customs is the family reunion dinner, when relatives gather from all over the country at a family member’s house or a restaurant. In KL, this dinner is celebrated with a unique tradition – by eating yee sang (raw fish salad): ‘tossing’ the fish and vegetables around on the plate and then eating it is supposed to symbolise an auspicious start to the New Year. Restaurants get very busy during this time, so if you want to enjoy a meal in one of the city’s Chinese eateries, we suggest you book ahead. Before the season is upon us again, we’ve decided to list out our top picks for the best places to eat, drink and celebrate Chinese New Year in the city.
1. Restoran Oversea
Located along Jalan Imbi, this Chinese restaurant is very popular for its reasonably-priced, contemporary, Cantonese-themed food: signature dishes include the caramelised freshwater prawns and honey-glazed char siew (barbecued pork). Come Chinese New Year it is a popular venue, so we recommend you book a table ahead of time – it is a great place to catch a glimpse of the raucous and friendly atmosphere of typical Chinese reunion dinners.
- Opening Hours: 11:30 – 14:30; 17:30 – 22:30
- Address: 84-88 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2144 9911
Just 15 minutes away from the KL centre, The Ming Room is very popular during Chinese New Year. Set in Bangsar Shopping Centre, it has elegant furnishings (such as antique terracotta horses) and serves authentic Cantonese food with a contemporary twist. Standout dishes include the baked foie gras with stuffed sea clams, crispy prawns with soft shell crab in honeydew, steamed freshwater prawns with radish cake and river carp medallion in stock. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 11:30 – 14:30 lunch; 18:30 – 22:00 dinner
- Location: Bangsar Shopping Center
- Address: 3rd Floor, Bangsar Shopping Centre, 285 Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bandaraya, 59000 Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2284 8822
3. Noble House
One of KL’s top fine dining Chinese restaurants, Noble House is divided into two sections and is able to accommodate up to 300 people, with reasonably-priced food making it a popular Chinese New Year reunion dinner venue. Listed as one of Malaysia Tatler’s best restaurants in 2012, the sweet-and-smoky flavoured charcoal-grilled pork ribs and the pan-fried foie gras (served with fragrant, tangy garlic rice) at this award-winning restaurant are first rate.
- Opening Hours: 11:00 am – 15:00; 18:00 – 23:00
- Address: 19, Jalan Delima, Off Jalan Imbi, KL
- Tel: +603 2145 8822
4. Li Yen
Regularly making an appearance on Timeout KL’s Top 40 list, the award-winning Li Yen offers unique dim sum and authentic Chinese cuisine with gourmet ingredients. Standout dishes include the flavourful and tender braised port trotter and lap mei fun (moist steamed claypot rice with juicy and sweet waxed sausages, duck meat, pork and liver). Located in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, the Oriental décor with accents of red and gold, is very stylish and the restaurant layout is intimate. During meals, diners are serenaded with Yanqing performances (traditional live Chinese music), making it a very popular Chinese New Year dinner venue.
- Location: The Ritz Carlton Hotel
- Address: 168 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2782 9033
Located in Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Celestial Court looks like an ancient Chinese grand pagoda. Family reunion dinners at Celestial Court are like no other, with innovative Cantonese dishes (like the juicy and creamy fried prawns in chunky mayonnaise) and even lucky draw prizes for diners who spend RM300 and above. The yee sang selections are unique (there is even one choice that comes with caviar), plus the restaurant has a selection of house wines to go with your meal; service is speedy. On February 16, 2013, there will be a Lion Dance performance at the lobby of the hotel. Read More...
- Opening Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 12:00 – 14:30 & 18:30 – 22:30;
Sunday & Public Holidays: 10:00 – 14:30 & 18:30 – 22:30
- Location: Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur
- Address: Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Jalan Sultan Ismail, KL
- Tel: +603 2717 9352