Each year, our fair city celebrates Lunar New Year with epic banquets, luminous lanterns and cultural performances galore, and 2023 is no exception.
In the Chinese calendar, we're moving into the Year of the Rabbit (with the corresponding element of water, which is said to bring a year of hope), while the Vietnamese tradition is moving into Year of the Cat—which is believed to be extra lucky.
It goes without saying there are plenty of animal-shaped buns and dumplings, prosperity toss salads and extra-long noodles to chow down on this Lunar New Year, but there are also plenty of cultural experiences like lion dances, exhibitions, and markets.
Here are the very best eats and events in Sydney for Lunar New Year 2023.
Din Tai Fung
Globally renowned dumpling masters Din Tai Fung are bringing in an auspicious Lunar New Year by serving adorable chocolate and Biscoff-filled rabbit dumplings, plus a traditional prosperity toss salad of 15 lucky ingredients (which should be tossed high by guests around the table). Some locations will also offer traditional Lunar New Year dishes like fried whole barramundi in chilli sauce (for abundance), seafood noodles (for longevity), and an indulgent crispy lobster in XO sauce.
Din Tai Fung’s specials are available between 18 January and 5 February (rabbit dumplings in all locations, prosperity salad and other specials at World Square, Westfield Chatswood, Miranda and Emporium Melbourne only).
Bring good luck and prosperity into the Lunar New Year with Tokyo Lamington’s take on a traditional treat: the pineapple tart. Think a soft vanilla sponge filled with sticky pineapple jam before being dipped in white chocolate, coated with crushed pineapple cookie crumbs, and topped with vibrant red sprinkles to evoke hong bao. You can grab one in store from 18 January, or order for pick-up or delivery online here.
Festival Of Abundance At The Star Sydney
A two-week celebration of the Lunar New Year is hitting The Star from Saturday 21 January, with dining specials, live entertainment and an array of artworks bringing the event to life. Signature restaurants will offer festive dishes with cultural significance, including Australia’s most expensive sashimi platter (lucky $888) with 12 kinds of fish and lobster at Sokyo.
Highlights from the rest of the precinct include whole wood-fired yabbies with saltbush and ginger from Flying Fish, pandan crème brûlée with charred mango from BLACK bar & Grill, roasted spatchcock with spiced crumbs and osmanthus sauce at Fat Noodle, and a pizza topped with confit lobster tail, smoked trout roe, spicy crumbs, fresh oregano and gold leaf at Cucina Porto.
Elsewhere, the Grand Foyer will play host to free performances of a multi-sensory performance featuring an interplay of light, water and digital art alongside breathtaking aerial performers Thursdays–Sundays, while the Michael Reid Art Bar has collaborated with the Vermilion Gallery of Contemporary Chinese Art to show works responding to the Lunar New Year from 14 Chinese artists based in Sydney, Melbourne, Beijing and Tibet.
See the full program of Lunar New Year offerings and events at The Star Sydney here.
Sydney Lunar Festival
Splashing Lunar New Year festivities across the city, the Sydney Lunar Festival brings a program packed with events, experiences, and spectacles. Head to Haymarket on Saturday 21 February to catch Sydney Lunar Streets filling the precinct with live entertainment from Sydney’s Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Taiwanese and Japanese community groups, roving performers, food trucks, market stalls, DJs and plenty of Instagram moments. More highlights are the action-packed dragon boat races on Cockle Bay Wharf on Saturday 28 January, and Thai Town's celebrations with a Thai street drum and dance parade on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 February. See the full list of events here.
All seven Lotus venues are getting into the spirit of Chinese New Year, serving a super cute rabbit-shaped dumpling, filled with mud crab, prawn and ginger between 22 January and 5 February. Other specials to mark the festivities include Shanghai-style red braised pork belly, prosperity salad (select venues) and full banquet menus at The Galeries, The Gardens by Lotus, CHI by Lotus and Double Bay. The Gardens by Lotus and the Barangaroo and The Galeries locations will host lion dances—you can check which specials are available at each venue and book here.
Ni Hao Bar
It’s not a new year without a couple of cocktails, so Ni Hao Bar is doing $20 special cocktails to mark the occasion. On the food front, get festive with half-lobsters in XO butter sauce or konbu butter and crispy egg noodles, or a colourful toss salad served with a platter of salmon, kingfish, tuna and scallop sashimi. Ni Hao Bar’s Lunar New Year specials are available between 18 January and 4 February, and you can make a booking here.
Enjoy all the action of Lunar New Year celebrations with a magical red lantern tunnel, lion dances on weekends between 21 January and 5 February, a pop-up store by Gong Grocer offering custom lanterns and traditional festive sweets, and a vibrant artwork depicting the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac interpreted through the modern lens of Asian graphic novels by Sydney artist Chris Yee.
Darling Square tenants will also be serving special dishes like hoisin wings with crispy shallots and fresh chilli (Wingboy), prosperity mazesoba and rabbit-themed green tea parfait (Iiko Mazesoba), and assorted Lunar New Year donuts (Shortstop). Check out the full lineup of events and specials here.
Celebrate a culinary journey through Australia’s multicultural heritage with a menu by Luke Nguyen drawing from recipes handed down from his Chinese grandfather. After a lunar cocktail on arrival, guests will enjoy the likes of prawn, squid and chive shu mai, pan-fried barramundi and roasted duck. The Lunar New Year menu is available as a nine-course lunch ($95pp) or 10-course dinner ($110pp) between 22 January and 5 February. See the full menu and book a table here.
Contemporary Asian eatery Luna Lu is celebrating the Lunar New Year with a five-course menu celebrating Asian cultures, with sweeping Sydney Harbour views to match, for $220pp. Highlights include a crispy lobster puff with Oscietra caviar (symbolising luck), egg noodles with king prawn, spanner crab and trout roe in XO sauce (symbolising longevity), and Goldband snapper with oyster mushrooms and verbena to represent wealth. Wine pairing is available, plus festive menus for plant-based diners and children. Book on Friday 27 January or 3 February to catch the lion dancers at 8pm—bookings are available here.
Modern Chinese restaurant Spice Temple is offering an elaborate Lunar New Year banquet menu designed around traditional symbolism including fertility, wealth and happiness. For $159pp, guests will celebrate with festive dishes like a tuna prosperity toss salad, pipis with pork and Shaoxing wine, Wu Xi pork ribs, and pork, prawn and garlic chive spring rolls, plus a cocktail on arrival. An optional wine pairing can be added for $75pp, and the Lunar New Year banquet is available between Tuesday 17 and Saturday 28 January. See the full menu and book in here.
Sydney Fish Market
With seafood playing a significant role in Lunar New Year celebrations, there’s no better time to swing by Sydney’s iconic fish market, which is decked out in red lanterns to mark the occasion. Lion dancers will be performing between 11am and 12:30pm on Saturday 21 January, with the market open all weekend so you can pick up seafood to prep your own prosperity toss salad at home, or grab a festive feed from the retailers on site.
Waterfront favourite Cirrus is bringing in the Lunar New Year with a special menu including oysters with Shaoxing wine and scallions, XO pipis with noodles, roast suckling pig, and an optional fried lobster in lemon butter with coriander and chilli. Cirrus’ Lunar New Year menu is $128pp, and available between 21 January and 5 February—see the full menu and book here.
Pair a cold brew with a crispy chicken bao bun at BrewDog, loaded with red onion kimchi, Korean hot sauce, sesame seeds and fried shallots and topped with miso mayo. The limited-edition dish will be available between Sunday 22 and Wednesday 25 January.
For more Chinese New Year feasting, check out Sydney's best dumplings and our hitlist of Sydney's best Chinese restaurants.
Image credit: Lotus Dining Group (Alana Dimou), Din Tai Fung, Tokyo Lamington, The Star Sydney, Darling Square, Lotus Dining Group (Alana Dimou), Botanic House, Sydney Fish Market,