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What to Eat: Chinese New Year Parade

Roast duck wonton noodle soup at Hing Lung. Photo by Flickr user bubbletea1.

You know the scene. It’s Chinese New Year. The parade is in full force. The streets are teeming with people. You’re hungry. You didn’t eat beforehand, and now every restaurant is packed. You’re walking the streets in confused desperation. Finally, exasperated and starving, you either head to House of Nanking, where you spend the next two hours in line, or home, grumpily grabbing a burrito on the way.

This year, break the cycle. It’s time to enjoy the parade and stuff your belly full of good things to eat, without the stress. It just requires a little planning. Here are the spots on our itinerary…what’s on yours?

Pre-parade snacks

First things first: eat beforehand so you’re not starving later. Before you head to the parade, stop by Good Mong Kok Bakery (1039 Stockton St.) for delicious take-out pork buns, shu mai, shrimp dumplings and turnip cakes. For dessert, head to Golden Gate Bakery (1029 Grant Ave.) for their famed egg custard tarts, moon cakes and macaroons.

Post-parade cocktails

If you go early, you might be able to avoid the crowd at Rickhouse (246 Kearny St.), the speakeasy-esque bar that serves all manner of elixirs. If you want a retro atmosphere and a great view, check out the Empress of China (838 Grant Ave.). The lounge is several floors above street level, so you’ll be able to look out into the revelry. Plus, the setting will make you feel like you’re in a Wong Kar-wai movie.

Post-cocktail dinner

The fried salt-and-pepper crab is legendary at R&G Lounge (631 Kearny St), so if you can score a table, order it. If it’s too packed, or you just feel like something simpler, head up Jackson to Golden Flower (667 Jackson St.) for a big bowl of beef pho (yes, it’s Vietnamese, but good and convenient). Other spots to try are Hong Kong Clay Pot (960 Grant Ave.) for potstickers and sizzling clay pots, Hing Lung (674 Broadway St.) for pork jook and chow mein, the tiny Kam Po Kitchen (801 Broadway St.) for Peking duck, or Yee’s Restaurant (1131 Grant Ave.) for wonton soup and BBQ pork.

Nightcaps

Both the Li Po Lounge (916 Grant Ave) and the miniscule Buddha Lounge are Chinatown mainstays; Li Po’s Mai Tai is large and lethal, and the Buddha’s great for a Tsing Tao or rice-wine shot. If you want more of a club vibe, head down to EZ5 (684 Commercial St.) for cocktails, DJs and free bar snacks.