Lunar New Year starts on Sunday, and, if you’re anything like us you’ll want to celebrate with some delicious food. That’s why we’ve rounded up some Bib Gourmand spots around the country to satisfy your cravings while keeping some green in your wallet. And for even more places to check out, make sure to visit our Best Of roundups where we dig deep into dim sum and more.
Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar (Chicago)
Oceanic hues, soft cushions, vibrant artwork, and a U-shaped bar, complete the setting of Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar, the ultimate feel good eat good spot. The large, colorful dining room is the perfect backdrop to delicious family-style plates from the extensive menu of Chinese-American classics.
Inspector notes: “Crab rangoon and shrimp chips make an appearance, but don't miss those luscious dan dan noodles or "special combo" fried rice, studded with cubes of pork, shrimp and more. The bone-in pork shank with black bean sauce and charred cabbage is designated a "special" for good reason, and fried string beans in a rich, savory broad bean purée are a must. Finish with the sesame cake with jasmine and orange.”
Queen’s English (Washington, D.C.)
Diners at Queen’s English are greeted by a yellow neon sign reminiscent of Hong Kong, of which the menu is derived. Inside this tiny Columbia Heights retreat, the menu updates the classics marrying fresh ingredients with balanced flavors.
Inspector notes: “Lotus root salad with anchovy dust and a charred tomato vinaigrette; or cured hamachi spiced with cumin, brushed with seaweed oil and set atop watermelon make for a great starting point. Not far behind, Wagyu rosettes gently poached in a "mala" broth are crowned by duck egg yolk and soy foam for a flourishing finish.”
Little Bird Dim Sum + Craft Beer (Vancouver)
Little Bird is the love child from longtime local restaurateur Jonathan Lee, pairing classic dim sum with local British Columbia craft beer. With a classic lineup of fresh and savory dim sum favorites, Lee created the go-to spot in town for comfort food.
Inspector notes: “Sticky rice studded with savory pork and chicken and sweet goji berries is a must-order. Of course, there must be dumplings, and Little Bird's run the gamut from traditional (ha gow) to surprising, with sweet corn, cilantro and shrimp.”
Lunasia Dim Sum House (Los Angeles)
This local Alhambra favorite is so popular that they run a second location in Pasadena. Traditional carts filled with dim sum roaming through the dining room are instead replaced by a team of fast and friendly servers who will ensure you will eat until your hearts content.
Inspector notes: “Rice wrappers filled with gently cooked lobster meat and finished with a subtly sweet soy sauce arrive on a platter set with the lobster shell itself for a presentation that draws attention from all corners. Traditionalists will want to end with a rich egg tart, but for a more soothing finale, order the minced pork congee infused with soy, green onions and wonton chips.”
MáLà Project (New York)
Giving new meaning to the phrase, “spice up your life,” the flavors at MáLà Project will have you on fire. The comfy two-room spot hosts a grand communal table ensuring help is always within reach. While guests can go in any number of delicious directions, the MáLà dry pot is the main highlight. From meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, to rice, the choice of ingredients and desired degree of spiciness ensures any palette will leave happy.
Inspector notes: “A pot of lamb, bok choy, wood ear mushrooms, shrimp balls and chicken gizzards make their way into a wok with a fragrant “secret sauce” and complex spiced oil.”
Hero image: MáLà Project
© Michelle Giang, Second to None/MáLà Project