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Chinese New Year Celebrations

Start the Year of the Tiger off right at these Chicago restaurants and bars.
Tuesday Feb 02, 2010.     By Centerstage Chicago Staff
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Year of the Tiger

Right now, the words "Tiger" and "love" don't go too well together, given a certain golfer's infamous indiscretions. But come February 14, the two will combine in a big way, as that date marks both Valentine's Day and the celebration of the beginning of the Chinese New Year, which happens to be the year of the tiger. Long story short, there's sure to be lots of growling and pawing going on. Here's where the New Year's action will be happening in Chicago:

Ben Pao
February 11-14
The celebrations at this Chinese favorite include the "Eye of the Tiger" cocktail reception (Thursday, 6 p.m., $20.10 per person) including draft beers and appetizer bites; the traditional Chinese Lion Dance (Friday and Saturday, 6:30 p.m.) with accompanying outdoor fireworks and the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Aphrodisiacs sparkling wine tasting with aphrodisiac appetizers (Sunday, 6 p.m., $30). The Year of the Tiger menu will be offered throughout (dinner only), including whole crispy red snapper, Jaoizi dumplings, Golden Coin turnovers and Long Life Noodles.

2010 Lunar New Year Parade
February 14, 1 p.m.
This Chinatown parade celebrating the Year of the Tiger will include marching bands, floats, lion teams, a 100-foot dragon and more.

Aja
February 14-18
In addition to its regular menu, this Asian restaurant at the Dana Hotel and Spa will offer a $12 dim sum special for two, featuring crispy taro cakes, siu mai and spare ribs. Each guest for lunch (starting on Monday) and dinner will also get complimentary char siu pork and braised mushroom baos, as well as a New Year's wish (possibilities include a tasting menu for two, a complimentary overnight stay, a treatment at the spa and more). Aja will also be offering its "Beer & Bao" special throughout February, with a bottle of Tiger beer and three baos for $10.

Chen's
Enjoy a traditional Lion Dance performance at 9 p.m. on February 13, then stick around for a special "Good Luck" menu through February 18. Items include seafood pan-fried noodles, tiger shrimp, lychee chicken and more.

Sunda
$45
Stop into this slick River North spot for chef Rodelio Aglibot's family-style Chinese New Year menu, available all week. The shareable spread includes crab and asparagus egg drop soup, a dim sum duet of shrimp dumplings and chicken siu mai, salt and pepper pork, beef tenderloin and Five Happiness lo-mein (chicken, scallops, shrimp, squid and lap cheong), as well as sides and dessert. There will be live performances of the Dragon Dance in the dining room on Sunday night.

Navy Pier
The Chinese Fine Arts Society hosts a free celebration on Sunday, February 14 (noon-5 p.m.) at Navy Pier's Crystal Gardens, with activities including a traditional lion dance and martial arts demonstrations from the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center's Lion Dance Troupe, more dancing from the Jin Qiu Yue Dance Studio's Little Star Dance Troupe, singing from the TKZ All Male Voice Ensemble, a fashion show, arts and crafts and more.

Koi
Enjoy a traditional Lion Dance performance at 7 p.m. on February 13, then stick around for a special "Good Luck" menu through February 18. Items include seafood pan-fried noodles, tiger shrimp, lychee chicken and more.

Trader Vic's
February 15-28
You can expect more than Mai Tai's at this Polynesian-inspired chain. In honor of the Year of the Tiger, the restaurant offers Tiger chopsticks, tea lights and sake cups, plus special menu items like Peking duck ($20), Tiger Szechwan prawns ($17) and Tiger beers ($2). Enjoy a unique light display on Sunday, February 28.

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