Chinese New Year Showcases 2019 Restaurant Trends

2019 food trends at your restaurant

Posted: Jan. 09, 2019

On February 5, spotlight these 2019 food trends at your restaurant for Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year, also known as The Spring Festival, is celebrated throughout Asia. Predating the Gregorian (Western) calendar, it’s an ancient holiday with many traditions and celebrations that spans 23 days. This year on the Chinese Lunar calendar, the New Year falls on February 5.

Chinese legend credits the first Spring Festival to the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, who reigned from 2698 to 2955 BC. Today, most countries throughout Asia celebrate the Chinese New Year, including Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Mauritius (countries with large Chinese populations).

The United States is now home to roughly 20 million Asian Americans and nearly 4 million Chinese—most celebrating the Spring Festival. Even if your restaurant serves another cuisine, celebrating the Chinese New Year is a great way to reach a new customer base. With the recent success of “Crazy Rich Asians” (the first Hollywood film with an all-Asian cast in 20 years), we bet people from all over would be thrilled by the experience.

What’s more, a change of pace is invigorating. A new plan can spark your team’s creative inspiration and breathe fresh air into your restaurant; that’s something your regular crowd will appreciate.

Not sure where to start? Just look to this year’s biggest food trends. The annual trendspotting report written by Baum + Whiteman predicts that the flavors of Eurasia, Taiwan, and China’s Szechuan region will be the gastronomic highlights of 2019. We share more below.

2019’s Asian Food Trends 

Food plays a monumental role during the Chinese New Year. It’s a time of year when family and friends connect, businesses pause, and future plans are recalibrated.

To invite good fortune in the new year, these seven foods are eaten for their auspicious and symbolic meanings:

  • Dumplings (for wealth)
  • Fish (to increase prosperity)
  • Noodles (for happiness and longevity)
  • Spring rolls (for wealth)
  • Sweet rice balls (for family unity)
  • Glutinous rice cakes (for increasing income or getting a better job position)
  • Oranges, grapes, plums, kumquats, and pomelos (for good fortune)

Of course, depending on the region in China and throughout Asia, different foods are eaten during the holiday. Because the days are spent preparing delicious food and sharing it with loved ones, the rules are simple: anything tasty goes!

For 2019, we suggest diving into the year’s big food trends.

Szechuan Pepper Chinese Food
Expect Chinese hot pot and dry pot restaurants to open at a plaza or neighborhood near you, as the spicy communal soup gains momentum in 2019. Avoid an expensive endeavor in getting the equipment and, instead, highlight the fiery Szechuan pepper in a stew or chicken dish.


Taiwanese Cuisine
Taiwanese cuisine is exploding in foodie destinations like New York City and San Francisco. Chefs are exploring the less famous Taiwanese dishes, like drunken chicken, fermented black beans, and stinky tofu.


Single-item, fast-casual restaurants are opening faster and faster. More often than not, they’re selling international street-food fare. And 2019 is predicted to be the year of the “bing,” a crispy, rolled pancake filled with flavorful braised meats and stir-fried vegetables popular in China. For breakfast, there’s the jian bing. Handheld food with succulent meats; what’s not to love, right? Talk with your kitchen team about creating a bing menu special for the Chinese New Year.


Katsu is the Japanese take on a fried pork cutlet. Prepared with crunchy panko breadcrumbs and served with a tangy sauce and coleslaw, the katsu is as delicious with a chicken cutlet or in between two slices of white bread.


Sour Foods

Korean and Filipino food has injected sour tastes into the US palate. Spicy kimchee is found everywhere from Mexican tacos to brunch. And vinegar-based dipping sauces inspired by Filipino food are becoming increasingly commonplace.


In 2019, Persian food and foods from Eurasia like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are expected to gain in popularity, where spicy, sweet, and sour flavors are often married; a combination that’s just starting to be explored by US-based chefs.


For your bar menu, explore sour tastes for a unique cocktail experience.


Chinese New Year Decorations for Your Restaurant or Bar

Like food, color choices have meaning during the Chinese New Year. The color red is beloved because it represents good fortune and happiness, but for the Spring Festival, there is another layer of significance.

As the legend of the Spring Festival goes, the terrible monster Nián would terrorize villages, eating everything in its way. After a few years passed in this horrible way, the villagers realized Nián came once every 365 days; wreaking havoc and then disappearing into the woods. To protect themselves, the following year a huge feast was prepared before the ancestors to ask for their protection. The ancestral spirits helped, but Nián was still a terror to the towns until one young man had the idea to frighten the monster with bright fireworks. At last, Nián was scared away for good.

To keep Nián from returning, the decorations have always included a loud, bright red.

Additionally, 2019 is the year of the pig! Decorate with pig figurines or posters to celebrate the 12th  Chinese zodiac sign.

See what other food trends are in store this year in Restaurant Trends: Part 1 and Part 2.





Posted: Jan. 09, 2019 | Written By: Emma Alois


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