Red items are a sign of good luck during the Lunar New Year | Photo from Unsplash.com

Happy New Year — again! Today is the start of the lunar calendar, thus the first day of a Lunar New Year, a tradition most popularly celebrated in East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. While much of the world celebrated the solar new year on Jan. 1, there are still many things to do (and eat) to celebrate the new lunar cycle. 

“We do these deep cleans before the Chinese New Year to kind of get the bad luck out,” said Kelly Chu, co-owner of Chinese fusion Red Orchid in West Ashley. “You want to get all the bad juju out before the new year starts.” 

And once you’ve done all the cleaning, you can indulge in foods rich with luck for the new year ahead of you. 

“We try to have fish every year because phonetically it means you have plenty of abundance,” she said. “Chicken symbolizes a phoenix (a symbol of rebirth) and shrimp means dragon (a representation of strength and health). Orange and apples mean prosperity and safety, so those are usually things that you want to have on a platter. Oh, and spring rolls or egg rolls, because they symbolize gold bars, or financial security.”

Chu added that anything with red is also a sign of good luck. 

Each new year is represented by an animal of the Chinese zodiac, and 2023 is symbolized as the year of the rabbit. Setrini Sison, owner and chef of Bok Choy Boy, said, “The rabbit is a symbol of intellect and cautiousness, longevity and peace.”

Ring in the new year with red, rabbits and special dishes at these restaurants and pop-ups around town.

Bok Choy Boy
At Charles Towne Fermentory
809 Savannah Hwy. (West Ashley)
(854) 213-8646
@bokchoyboyfood on Instagram

With its new residency at Charles Towne Fermentory, Setrini Sison is raking in the new year with a White Rabbit Candy Cake Pop, made with red velvet cake, White Rabbit candy glaze and gold sprinkles. “White Rabbit Candy is a popular candy in the Philippines, China and Southeast Asia,” Sison said. “It has a sweet and milky taste. I used to eat a whole bag of these.” 

Jackrabbit Filly
4628 Spruill Ave. (North Charleston)
(843) 460-0037
jackrabbitfilly.com

Jackrabbit Filly is celebrating the new year with its weekly Sunday dim sum brunch. Bring friends, family or maybe even someone who you disagree with to break bread and enjoy a prosperous new year. 

Little Miss Ha
915 Houston Northcutt Blvd. (Mount Pleasant)
(843) 388-7251
Littlemissha.com

Though the Vietnamese restaurant will be closed on Lunar New Year, it will still celebrate the holiday from Jan. 23 to Jan. 28 with a special Tết (Vietnamese New Year) menu. The menu is yet to be disclosed, but keep an eye out @littlemissha on Instagram from the special upcoming dishes. 

Fun fact: While the rest of the world is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, Vietnam is celebrating the Year of the Cat. The origin of the animal being a cat is quite murky. According to NPR, some historians believe it’s a linguistic issue, while others believe it’s a cultural view of rabbits. 

Old Li’s Restaurant
1662 Savannah Hwy. (West Ashley)
(843) 640-3994
Oldlisrestaurant.com

Though Old Li’s doesn’t have any known specials to celebrate the new year, it serves Chinese cuisine, but not the standard Chinese American takeout dishes like General Tso’s. Instead, Old Li’s offers more adventurous meals like squirrel fish and griddled pork intestines. Of course, you can also stick to some favorites like pork fried rice, Yuxiang (or shredded) pork and Kung Pao chicken. 

Red Orchid
1401 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. (West Ashley)
(843) 573-8787
Redorchids.com

A winner of Best Chinese in Charleston City Paper’s Best Of awards, Red Orchid is serving up a special new year menu for the remainder of January. Start the year with financial security by chowing down on some pork and cabbage egg rolls or indulge in strength and rebirth with the Happy Family meal of pork, chicken, beef, shrimp and veggies in a black bean sauce. Other specials include Ants Climbing a Tree (mayi shang shu) with pork, bell peppers, onions and glass noodles and Wong Wong pepper with your choice of meat and long hot peppers. 

Seol-Ah’s
At Lucky Luchador
35 Hanover St. (Downtown)
@seol_ahs on Instagram

From 4-10 p.m.., Seol Ah will take over the kitchen at Lucky Luchador on Hanover Street for a special new year dumpling menu. Crack open a cold one and pair it with at least four pork and beef dumplings or vegan Rabbit dumpling special, made with kimchi, vermicelli and vegetable puree. If you’re not feeling the dumplings, Seol Ah’s will also have K-Pop chicken, twice-fried chicken bites tossed in a gochujang sauce. The dumplings are only available until sold out, but the regular Seol Ah menu is available until 10 p.m. 


Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.