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Celebrate The Year Of The Pig

Cover Story

December 30, 2018

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Good Luck Jai

Chinese New Year is more than a month away, but David Chang, managing partner of Little Village Noodle House, has already begun to plan a menu for the event.

The celebratory spread will be a spectacular feast of 10 courses, each dish more delectable than the last, most made with ingredients that carry deep symbolic meaning.

“Chinese New Year is all about inviting luck, prosperity, and longevity,” Chang explains. “Those are key elements to bring into the New Year.”

The Year of the Pig begins on Feb. 5, but the very special Chinese New Year menu will be available from dinnertime Wednesday, Jan. 30 to Feb. 5, with telephone reservations. A meal for an intimate party of four guests is priced at $188 and a merry celebration of 10 is $368.

Steamed Oysters in Half-Shell with Chili Black Beans L. TABUDLO PHOTO

The menu for the Year of the Pig will begin with Imperial Seafood Winter Melon Soup. “It’s a seasonal soup, with the flavors of the winter,” says Chang. “There’s not too much meaning attached to it, but it’s perfect for this time of year.”

The feast continues with Seafood Lettuce Wrap, also known as san choi ba. “‘San’ means alive, and ‘choi’ means wealth,” Chang says. “That’s why we have the wrap at the beginning of the year.” Steamed Oysters in Half-Shell with Chili Black Beans, a dish that symbolizes prosperity, is next. And no meal honoring the Year of the Pig would be complete without a glorious pork dish. Little Village’s Kau Yuk with Steamed Bun, made with braised pork belly, is a perfect representative.

Kau Yuk with Steamed Bun L. TABUDLO PHOTO

Similar to Peking duck, the succulent pork is tucked into buns with green onions and a sauce fragrant with star anise.

“It should melt in your mouth,” says Chang. “The bun absorbs the sauce and blends with the pork belly in a very balanced way.”

The pork course is followed by Salt & Pepper Kauai Prawns, a perennial crowd-pleaser at Little Village, and then with Steamed Baby Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce — tender Chinese baby broccoli in oyster sauce — and Firecracker Chicken, a returning favorite.

Naturally, Little Village’s New Year’s menu boasts its delectable Oven Fresh Roasted Duck.

“Of all the duck dishes in the world, Chinese duck is the best,” Chang chuckles. “Ours is marinated for over 24 hours, and roasted at low heat to keep moisture inside. We turn up the heat at the end to get the skin really crispy.”

Ingredients used to make Good Luck Jai L. TABUDLO PHOTO

Loaded with rice noodles, carrots, tofu, snow peas, gingko nuts and more, Little Village’s Good Luck Jai might be the most important dish on the menu.

“Every Chinese New Year, we’re supposed to eat jai for cleansing,” Chang says. “Every ingredient symbolizes prosperity and health for the New Year. It should bring a lot of good luck.”

The meal ends with simple Custard Tapioca for dessert. With 10 courses, this is a feast that should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Kung Hee Fat Choy!

Get Extra Lucky

For the ultimate celebration, schedule your Year of the Pig feast at Little Village on Feb. 5, so you and your guests can enjoy a Lion Dance. One of the most raucously delightful Chinese New Year traditions, the dancing lion chases away evil spirits, bringing happiness, good fortune and longevity. Little Village always hosts a Lion Dance for Chinese New Year, and this year, it will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 5. Reservations are absolutely essential. “The restaurant is always packed — it’s crazy,” says managing partner David Chang.

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