Chinese New Year has fascinated me for years. All this time, I have wistfully wondered what it would be like to visit China at this time of the year. I bet the atmosphere must be charged with excitement. I can imagine lots of lights, decorations… and the color red! Happy and festive folks, celebrating with their friends and family… over some great food, I bet!
Oh! Wouldn’t it be lovely!
While the dream-trip to China is still in the works, I had to settle for the next best thing…. take in the atmosphere of the Chinese New Year in Chinatown! As luck would have it, Facebook notified me that the Queens Dinner Club, a fun venture created by my friend Joe (The Guy Who Ate Queens), is hosting a Chinese New Year feast at a place called Asian Jewels in Flushing Chinatown! I jumped at this opportunity and quickly asked my fun-loving, food-loving pal M.L. to join me, and off we went!
Asian Jewels, according to Joe, is the best dim sum place in Flushing Chinatown. The style of food here is Cantonese- which is not something I usually gravitate towards. Cantonese food tends to have milder flavors and I prefer the spicier versions of Chinese food – so usually its szechuan cuisine for me! Ah! But the food at Asian Jewels was a pleasant surprise. Here I found the lack of spice to be a very very good thing… because all the ingredients came through beautifully in their lovely textures, flavors as well as their expert preparations. I was happy to see hot sauce at the table – just in case I needed to add a kick of spice to my food. But, I have to say, it’s amazing how much you notice when your mouth is NOT on fire! Ha! Ha!
The meal was off to a great start with the very first course – an assortment of spring rolls dumplings and such. It seemed like most seafood and meats were offered one way or the other through the course of the meal. I even tried a few things I had never had before and discovered that I really enjoyed them. Ever had dried oyster, sea cucumber or pig tongue?! That dried oyster… Man! What an interesting flavor and texture! I am quite fascinated by it – and plan on exploring it lot more in the near future. My favorite course was the super garlicky fried chicken. Still dreaming about that juicy meat topped with that crispy skin covered in fried garlic. Mmmmm!
A Chinese new year feast is typically quite lavish and delicious. Expect to linger for a couple of hours or so. It is a LOT of food- so try to pace yourselves as much as possible. If you eat every morsel on your plate, chances are you won’t have any appetite for the final courses.
It was clear that the Queens Dinner Club wanted everyone to have a truly authentic experience. They worked closely with the restaurant to come up with the menu. In keeping with the Chinese tradition, we all found a beautiful red envelope waiting for us at our seat – with a dollar bill inside for good luck. And I also loved that each course was named with references to good fortune, good wishes and good luck… another delightful detail executed by the Queens Dinner Club.
It was fun meeting so many adventurous food-lovers at this dinner. Quite a few of them were regular members of the Queens Dinner Club. And some folks, like us, had just heard about it and thought the experience was too good to miss. I am really glad I went.
The $75 cost of ticket included a lavish 12 course meal – tax and tip included. I thought it was a great deal. The dinner was BYOB but diners had an option to buy beer at the restaurant. Hot tea, of course, was complimentary.
Happy Year Of The Fire Rooster, Everyone!