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8 Lucky Snacks And Celebrations To Ring In The Year Of The Monkey

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Millions of Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Southeast Asians celebrate Lunar New Year each year. This year, the eve of the holiday falls on Super Bowl Sunday. New Year celebrations typically run from the eve of the Lunar New Year for 15 days up until what is known as the Lantern Festival. Here's some inspiration for which festivities to attend and what dishes to eat for the Year of the Monkey!

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150,000 firecrackers go off at the annual Golden Dragon Parade (Photo by Bob Kent via the LAist Feature Photos pool)
Golden Dragon Parade

Of course, what would Lunar New Year be without a parade? The 117th Annual Golden Dragon Parade will be held in Chinatown from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 13. The parade will be filled with floats, marching bands, several cultural groups. Thousands of spectators line the route to view the parade, which features dozens of floats, marching bands, entertainers, local community leaders. The parade will commence at Hill and Ord Streets and conclude at Broadway and Cesar Chavez. Click here for details.

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Street Festivals

The 25th Annual San Gabriel Lunar New Year celebration will be held on 4 blocks on Valley Boulevard from Almansor Street to Vega Street on February 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The street festival will feature 250 booths with traditional performances and other activities, such as a dragon boat rowing station, children's workshops, and lots of Asian food. Details at their official website.

Over in San Gabriel the second annual Lunar New Year Festival will taken place on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The free event will have lots of food, performances, and cultural activities for people of all ages. The festival headliner is rapper MC Jin. Performers Jane Lui, Peter Chung, Track IX, Justin Klunk, Ashley Yoon and Verseatile will also taking the stage. The traditional lion dance and blessings will begin at 11 a.m. Details at their official website.

Special Good Luck Dinners

Almost all Cantonese banquet restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley like NBC Seafood, Happy Harbor, Grand Harbor, Lincoln Seafood, etc. will be running dinner specials from Lunar New Year Eve until the Lantern Festival for 15 days. Dinner banquets are only available for tables of 10 or more. Each dish has a lucky name and uses ingredients that signify luck, fortune, and prosperity in the coming year. An example of dishes to expect include: The phoenix and dragon, which is a chicken and lobster dish, said to represent hope, a good marriage, and the coming together of families or the poon choi, a dish that includes some of the finest ingredients all in one pot. Poon choi usually includes a hodgepodge of ingredients like, beef, chicken, duck, lamb, pork, abalone, ginseng, fish, fish maw, fried eel, squid, mushroom, daikon, to name more than a few. The dish represents unity and shows gratitude towards ones ancestors. NBC Seafood in Monterey Park is doing a $300+ and a $400+ set dinner for a party of 10 and Grand Harbor has a $488, $628, $898, and a $2088 set dinner menu available (also for parties of 10).

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If the San Gabriel Valley is a little too far for you, then WP24 by Wolfgang Puck offers six- and eight-course tasting menus, which include modern twists on Chinese fare such as "hot and sour" oxtail soup and grilled colorado lamp chop with Hunan eggplant. On February 9, WP24 by Wolfgang Puck will also be hosting a "night market"-styled dinner, with tasty treats like king crab lo mai and spicy Sichuan skewers.

NBC Seafood Restaurant is located at 404 South Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, (626) 282-2323 and Grand Harbor is located at 5729 Rosemead Boulevard, Temple City, (626) 280-2998. WP24 by Wolfgang Punk at the Ritz-Carlton is located at 900 West Olympic Boulevard, at LA Live, (213) 743-8800.

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Crescendo Ice Cream will be one of the vendors at The Taste of Night Market. The company is known for taking the traditional Singaporean street snack and adding liquid nitrogen ice cream infused with exotic tea blends. Crescendo Ice Cream (Photo by Kristie Hang/Crescendo Ice Cream)
Night Market Tasting Event

The folks behind the 626 Night Market in Arcadia are making their first foray to the Westside on February 5 and 6 for their latest project, Taste of Night Market. The two-day tasting event features an international mix of cuisines from local chefs and tastemakers. The theme of the night will revolve around the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Monkey. Unlike previous night-market events in the SGV, which can easily attract upwards of 100,000 people, this tasting will have a limited capacity. Click here to buy tickets.

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The Taste of Night Market event is located at 3021 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, (310) 390-9071.

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UniBoil specializes in Chinese hot pot using made from scratch chicken broth. (Photo by Kristie Hang/LAist)
Hot Pot and Red Envelopes
UniBoil, which specializes in Chinese hot pot using made from scratch chicken broth that is boiled for over 12 hours is running specials from now until February 22. From now until the 7th, they will be doing red envelopes giveaways throughout the day. From February 8-22, there will be a lucky wheel to spin for anyone that buys a hot pot. Winners will either get discounts on their hot pot or the big prize, a red envelope filled with $188 in cash.

UniBoil is located at 500 North Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, (626) 782-7189 and at 18406 Colima Road in Rowland Heights, (909) 378-0638.

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Freshly made Vietnamese Cherimoya candies from Kawah Bakery. (Photo by Kristie Hang/LAist)
Freshly Made New Years Sweets

Twice a year, mom-and-pop bakery Kawah in Monterey Park suspend their normal bakery operation making bread and other Vietnamese snacks to concentrate solely on making special Lunar New Year sweets from scratch. A standout is Kawah's fresh cherimoya candies that have the consistency of Gushers. Due to their small operation, they can only make a limited amount and sell out quickly. Another specialty is the pandan coconut shreds. The sweets have no preservatives so they do not last long. Eating sweets is part of the tradition of ensuring that the coming New Year will bring sweet happenings.

Kawah Bakery is located at 317 East Garvey Avenue, Monterey Park, (626) 288-8219.

Even Disneyland Is Ringing In The Lunar New Year

Disneyland will be celebrating the Year of the Monkey February 5-8 in the California Adventure Park. There will be specialty food and drink items like steamed pork buns with sweet chili sauce, monkey shaped sourdough bread, almond cookies, ginger milk tea, and Tsing Tao Beer. They'll also be complimentary face painting, live performances, and your Disney characters dressed in their best Lunar New Year outfits as well as special merchandise.

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Ringing in the New Year at Thien Hau Temple, Chinatown (Photo by Terrell Woods via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
Midnight Temple Ceremony
Welcome the New Year by going to Chinatown and taking part of a traditional Chinese New Year Buddhist ceremony at Thien Hau Temple. The midnight temple ceremony starts at 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Chinese New Year's Eve, Sunday, February 7. Attendees can participate in traditional incense burning, watch lion dances, and watch as 500,000 firecrackers are set off at the same time to ward of evil spirits. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Thien Hau Temple is located at 756 Yale Street, Los Angeles, (213) 680-1860.