Lunar New Year — in its different iterations, such as Chinese New Year, Tết Nguyên Đán, and Seollal — is celebrated by a variety of East and Southeast Asian cultures, ushering in prosperity for the year ahead. The holiday is considered one of the most important on the calendar, and in 2023, falls on January 22.
During Lunar New Year, Portland’s Asian communities gather and celebrate the holiday with traditional foods such as the Chinese nian gao (sweet glutinous rice cake), Vietnamese bánh tét (glutinous rice with mung bean and pork), and Korean tteokguk (sliced rice cake soup), which are often made at home. To hop on the celebrations — it’s the Year of the Rabbit for cultures following the Chinese calendar and the Year of the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac — many Portland restaurants are taking a creative approach to Lunar New Year foods, offering themed delicacies.
Vietnamese food cart Matta is teaming up with Delicious Donuts for a Lunar New Year doughnut box. The box includes two pandan doughnuts from Matta, four Chinese New Year or Vietnamese New Year-themed raised round doughnuts with optional filling add-ons, and li xi, or lucky red envelopes. The special box is available for pre-order until January 19, for pickup on January 21. Those interested can text their order to 503-888-8648.
Owners Holly Ong and Pat Lau are offering a taste of Singapore through various Chinese New Year tidbits, which are often enjoyed when visiting relatives’ houses during the holiday. Made in the Northwest 23rd Avenue shop kitchen, Sibeiho is selling peanut cookies; kueh pineapple tarts, which dollop slow-cooked pineapple jam on top of buttery pastry; pandan-flavored, meringue-like kueh bangkit; bak kwa, a Chinese pork jerky; and Aunty Jill’s OMG! Sambal Kachang. The items are available for pre-order and store pickup.
Geleen Abenoja, the baker behind the Filipino pop-up and forthcoming bakery Shop Halo Halo is reprising her mooncake halo halo variety box, which contains taro buns, ube mochi, black sesame or ube mooncakes, matcha sugar cookies, and lavender calamansi shortbread. Pre-orders close on January 15 or when sold out, with pickups slated for January 21 or 22.
The Northeast Portland sports bar, which celebrates women in sports, was founded by Jenny Nguyen, a Vietnamese Portlander. The bar will celebrate Lunar New Year with a party that will ring in the Year of the Cat, promising food and drink specials and a performance by White Lotus Lion Dance. The event will also raise money for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO).
The bakery and patisserie, known for their many varieties of sweet and savory croissants and cruffins, is making a special cha siu bao (barbecued pork) croissant for Lunar New Year. The pastry is filled with marinated pork shoulder and sprinkled with sesame seeds — it will be available at Twisted Croissant’s Northeast Broadway and Sellwood-Moreland locations from January 16 through January 29.