Chinese New Year is objectively better than non-Chinese New Year because (a) not so close to Christmas, therefore no messy festive overlap, (b) far better food, obviously, and (c) Chinese tradition eschews conventional present-giving for red envelopes full of money. Why are we still plugging away at gift giving (stressful, not rewarding, wasteful) when we could just be handing each other wads of cold, hard cash?
Anyway, the the lunar New Year for 2021 begins on Friday February 12, so you've still got plenty of time to get yourself all set for the Year of The Ox (arguably the best of all years, in our opinion). The fact London is currently closed should not deter you. True there's no big China Town parade occurring, but there's no reason you can't celebrate Chinese New Year, in style, from home.
Bag yourself an appropriate meal kit
We can all agree that DIY restaurant food is a laugh. It's like cooking but it requires no skill or imagination. Why not call in a big meal kit (£88) for New Year from Wun's Tea Room? Eight dishes in all, including a salmon prosperity salad, Hainan poached chicken thighs with Canton salsa, Wun’s signature sugar skin fatty char siu and wok fried beef ho fun with bone marrow. You can also cook along with Andrew Wong (rhyme not intentional) by ordering the great man's feast box (£165) from StarChef's. Thirteen dishes with that one, so hope you're hungry. BAO have also got in on the action with their Made-by-You Feast (£65), featuring 40-day aged beef rice bowls, classic pork kits, and a load of special new year baked goods and fortune cookies. Finally, take a peak at Mei Mei's Lunar New Year Feast Box selection (£70-£200). The deluxe option boasts a whole Mei Mei chicken, sliced roasted duck breast in barbecue sauce, and a tofu and caviar dish. Oh, and their very popular pineapple tarts, too.
Worship at the altar of Wong Kar Wai
What divine timing. Wong Kar Wai, one of Planet Earth's greatest living directors, is having a big 4K retrospective, hosted on the ICA's new Cinema 3 platform and also the BFI Player. Have you even seen 'In The Mood For Love' and 'Chungking Express', pal? So good. If you like the idea of exploring Chinese and Hong Kong cinema, why not investigate the world of Jia Zhangke on Amazon Video.
Order a Chinese feast
First up: support London's China Town, you boobs! Not all the fine restaurants there do delivery, but we've rounded up the ones that do. Twenty-year vets Lotus Garden are on Uber Eats and Just Eat. Handcrafted dim sum specialists Tao Tao Ju can be found on Deliveroo. Time Out fave Dumplings Legend (hi Geoff!) can get you the best soup dumplings in London via Deliveroo and Uber Eats. And finally flash Cantonese eatery Plum Valley is doing 'party feasts' which you can order via Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Elsewhere, dim sum dudes Yauatcha, are ringing in the New Year with a special set delivery menu (£68 per person) for all of February, featuring ox face masks, oxtail puffs, as well as a traditional pineapple pastry. If you're south of the river then check out The Red Duck in Balham, who have put together a very natty menu available between February 8 and February 18. Chef-proprieter Chi San and his team have produced specials that hark back to family meals in the old country: braised pork belly; crab meat in oyster sauce and the famous 'prosperity toss' salad. Anyone out West would do well to look up Ladbroke Road's ULI, who are doing a top-notch seven-dish menu, designed for two people, available between Feb 12 and 16 (£50). Elsewhere you've got a sharing menu (£88 per person) from Michelin-starred Hakkasan who, for an unnamed price, will 'arrange for their delivery to come alongside a performance of lion dancers'.
Stream some culture
First up is The Museum of London, who have a whole virtual programme planned, including puppetry and dragon-mask making, between February 11 to February 14. It's all free but you'll need to book tickets ahead of time. Burgh House in Hampstead has some fun stuff planned too: on Sunday February 21, at 11am, they'll be putting on a Facebook Live festival featuring calligraphy, live kung fu as well as arts and crafts. Want to attend? Get your free ticket here. You can also log onto the Royal Museums Greenwich Facebook page from 4pm on Friday February 12 to watch special Chinese New Year performances, including an erhu recital from local musician Duong Yang.
Get the buns in
The Bun House is where you go for buns in China Town. And you can order their steaming wares to your house. You'll get a Day Ghut Bun Set (£18.99) containing fortune cookie shaped dumplings and four steamed buns, including two beef brisket ones and two buns shaped as orange mandarins with an oozing mandarin & dark chocolate filling.
Read about London's best Chinatown restaurants.