Monday , February 8th is Chinese New Year 2016. Each Chinese New Year is characterized by one of the 12 animals which appear in the Chinese Zodiac. Just as our calendar is divided into 12 months, the Chinese Zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each year is associated with an animal: rat, ox, tiger,rabbit, dragon, snake, chores, sheep, monkey, rooster,dog, and pig.This year it is the ninth animal in the cycle so it is the year of the monkey. It is believed that people are influenced by the personality of the animal that rules their birth year.
We decided to celebrate Chinese New Year at one of the Hudson Valley’s best Chinese restaurants: Daxxon Chinese Restaurant in Walden, New York. Yuen and Betty Lai have owned and operated this restaurant for the past 32 years.Betty and Yuen are wonderful hosts and make you feel welcome every time you go. Betty was kind enough to sit with me for a while to explain to me the traditions that are a part of their New Year’s celebration.She explained that family gatherings are one of the most important parts of Chinese New Year and it is a time to honor both the living and the dead. Betty showed me a picture of their typical New Year’s dinner which includes among other things a sweet rice cake made with sticky rice which symbolizes the family sticking together and it is sweet as this means happiness. Also present on their holiday table are tangerines with the leaves on which represents health and vitality, lettuce which also stands for health, and scallions which stand for wisdom. Incense is burned to create smoke to honor and call forth their dead ancestors and fake money is burned to symbolize thanking their ancestors.Parents give their unmarried children red envelopes filled with money which symbolizes good fortune in the coming year.The color red is a symbol of good luck in the Chinese culture. It represents happiness and life and is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.Betty also said that the number 8 is considered to be lucky.
They offer a special menu for Chinese New Year in addition to their regular menu. The special menu will be available for the next two weeks as Chinese New Year festivities last for 15 days. There are a choice of two different entrees, both come with a cup of seafood tomato soup and a dragon roll which is a crispy roll stuffed with imitation crab meat and shrimp. My husband ordered the tender steak and butterflied chicken entree. It came with a very tender steak, 4 pieces of butterflied and breaded white meat chicken on a platter with Chinese cabbage, string beans and broccoli adorned with a seafood sauce and white rice on the side.I chose the other option which was shrimp, fried scallops, lobster, and crab meat which came with broccoli, snow peas, bok choy, baby corn and mushrooms in an xo sauce. I have no idea what the xo stands for but it was good !
Daxxon does have a bar so you can get a drink but we chose to have the hot tea. The first thing that arrives on your table are the fried noodles with both the duck sauce or the hot mustard to dip in. I always dive into these and end up dripping duck sauce all over whatever I’m wearing before the first course even arrives, who can relate? The soup came out right away and although I am not a fan of tomato soup this was very flavorful with the seafood in it. The dragon roll came out next, holy moly was it good! I have never even heard of them before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but can I tell you, I would happily have made a meal out of these suckers, they were that good.They look something like an egg roll but that’s where the similarity ends.the crust is very crispy with an almost creamy seafood filling, and they’re only around for the next two weeks! Our main entree came next and let me tell you, my fork wasted no time heading over to my husband’s plate! My seafood was very good, the shrimp and scallops were my favorite part and it came with a side of fluffy white rice. My husband’s steak and butterflied chicken was over the top delicious, we both picked that as our favorite.The steak was so tender you could cut it with a fork and the butterflied chicken breasts were moist and seasoned perfectly. The vegetables added a nice crunch and were accented with a flavorful sauce. It also came with white rice. The price for each meal was 17.95 which is quite a value for three courses. We ate till we were quite full and still had plenty to take home for leftovers.
If you are looking for a great place to celebrate Chinese New Year you should head on over to Daxxon Chinese Restaurant located in the Hannaford Plaza on 78 Oak Street in Walden, New York. Happy New Years!