February 4, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year - The Year of The Ox

It is time again for the big Chinese New Year celebrations throughout the Bay Area. Gung Hay Fat Choy! The events started last week but continue for another week or so. Checking out one of these events is an easy and inexpensive way to experience Chinese culture, without flying ten hours on Cathay Pacific Airways.

In San Francisco we have one of the largest Chinese populations outside of China, and it shows. You can go to any street within Chinatown and enjoy authentic foods, like dim sum or wander through emporiums of dried herbs and delicacies.

One of the world's top ten parades, the annual Chinese New Year Festival and Parade in San Francisco is worth coming to see in person - this year it is on February 7th. The parade route can be found here and if you are unable to go, you might try to watch the coverage on the local television station KTVU Channel 2 at 6:00pm Pacific Time.

Parade Highlights
  • Elaborately decorated floats
  • Martial arts group
  • Stilt walkers
  • Lion dancers
  • Chinese acrobatics
and the Golden Dragon ("Gum Lung"). The Golden Dragon is over 201 feet long and is always featured at the end of the parade as the grand finale and will be accompanied by over 600,000 firecrackers! It takes a team of over 100 men and women from the martial arts group, White Crane to carry this dragon throughout the streets of San Francisco.

Great Dim Sum
I think one of the most fun ways to explore Chinese culture is through the food. The Bay Area has lots of great restaurants for all sorts of Chinese foods. You can also find great take away shops throughout Chinatown and the city, with steam tables filled with various dishes.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently put together a comprehensive and detailed list of food choices and definitions for this year's New Year celebration - way more than I possibly could - click here to read theirs.

My short list for consistently delicious dim sum outside of Chinatown but still within city limits are these two institutions:

- Yank Sing - located downtown

- Ton Kiang - located in the Outer-Richmond district

Dragon image above, courtesy of travel.latimes.com


  1. I missed the parade last year and I going to try and make it there this weekend. Definitely a day to dust off the 'ole camera!

  2. Definitely a day to walk about and enjoy this cool event...we're very lucky.


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