Smile Politely

Five dishes to celebrate Chinese New Year in Champaign

A cropped photo shows two grilled fish on vegetables at Szechuan Taste in Champaign, Illinois. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.
Xiaohui Zhang

Chinese New Year (CNY) is approaching on January 22nd , and it’s a tradition for people start the
celebration as early as on CNY’s eve. Even though most people who enjoy celebrating the festival often prefer cooking at home and preparing a gathering meal with friends and family, there should always be choices for our students or those who are new to CNY to enjoy some nice dishes given the convenience offered by various awesome restaurants.

Champaign is definitely a place where you can get plenty choices of dishes from various types of cuisine for a nice meal to celebrate CNY. In this article, I’m going to recommend five dishes to try if CNY is on your plan.

Xiaohui Zhang

Spicy Stir-Fry Hot Pot | Szechuan Taste

Spiciness is always a nice trigger for a good appetite, if you like spicy food. Szechuan Taste’s spicy stir-fry hot pot ($27.95) is a popular dish to enjoy among a small group of people. A mixture of various types of veggies and meats such as kelp, cauliflowers, sliced potatoes, beef, shrimps and quail eggs, were stir-fried in spicy bean paste and served with cilantros on top. You can never go wrong with this dish with a bowl of warm rice.

Szechuan Taste
707 S 6th St #105
Champaign
11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., daily 

Xiaohui Zhang

House Special Grilled Fish | Szechuan Taste

Everyone would prefer a warm dish during Chinese New Year. A grilled fish served on a heating plate is a good option. I tried this house special grilled fish with aromatic garlic flavor ($34.95) from Szechuan Taste. They offer spicy flavor as well if you are more into that. The plate of grilled fish came on a bed of mixed veggies including bean curd sticks, wood ear mushroom, cabbage, and green bean sprout. The fish was grilled and served on top of the vegetable beddings with plenty of broth in flavor. There was a lit candle under the plate to keep the fish warm.

For grilled fish, you can also get other options in Lao Sze Chuan and DD Fish.

Szechuan Taste
707 S 6th St #105
Champaign
11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., daily 

Xiaohui Zhang

Korean BBQ | Star BBQ

As a holiday that celebrate gathering of friends and families, I would highly recommend a feast of Korean BBQ for CNY. I love ordering various meat dishes ($28.99) such as bulgogi beef, beef tongue, and marinated pork belly for the grill. The happiness brought by the sizzling of oils, crispy meat, and the warmth of chatting with friends are something that would stay in your memory. I also like all the small dishes offered in Star BBQ, and they definitely have my favorite set of options of small dishes in town.

Star BBQ
1209 Savoy Plaza Ln
Savoy
Tu–Th 4 p.m. to midnight
F–Su noon to midnight

Xiaohui Zhang

Tonkotsu Ramen | Tanaka Ramen & Izakaya

If you just want something simple but still want to bring warmth to your belly as you celebrate CNY, a bowl of tonkostu ramen will never go wrong. I am glad that we have this new ramen place in town now to
serve ramen. I tried the Tanaka classic ramen ($15.30) from Tanaka Ramen & Izakaya. It came with traditional thick ramen noodles, a savory pork broth base, a seasoned soft-boiled egg, some wood ear mushroom, and of course, several slices of pork Chasu. I liked a lot of the texture of the ramen noodles from this restaurant

Tanaka Ramen & Izakaya
112 E Green St
Champaign
Tu–Su noon to 9:30 p.m.

Xiaohui Zhang

Iced Tangyuan | Savory Hot Pot House

After the main part of the Chinese New Year dinner, we’ll all be craving a nice dessert to wrap up. I tried
the iced Tangyuan ($8.99) from Savory Hot Pot House. The restaurant is located right next to the entrance of Fresh International Market. This traditional Chinese style dessert contained a thin base of shaved ice with various toppings such as raisins, red beans, distiller’s grain, haw flakes, and most importantly: chewy, tiny, sweet dumplings made with sticky rice. And also, black sugar syrup was added. You can get a mixture of different textures in one sip, and this dessert definitely made me feel refreshed after a big meal.

Savory Hot Pot House
505 S Neil St
Champaign
Tu-Th 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Fr 4 to 10 p.m.
Sa+Su noon to 10:30 p.m.

Related Articles