Crowd Pleasing Cuisine
With the Asian food market worth over £3 billion in the UK*, Chinese cuisine is as popular as ever. Chinese New Year presents the perfect opportunity for caterers to capitalise on this and maximise sales by holding a theme night to celebrate the occasion.
Why it works
Chinese food is one of the nation’s favourite cuisines and guaranteed to form the foundation of a crowd-pleasing theme night. Chinese New Year, the beginning of the year of the pig, falls on Tuesday 5 February so it offers the opportunity to boost mid-week trade or hold the celebrations the weekend before.
What to serve
Prawn toast, spare ribs and chicken satay are popular starters, followed by stir-fry soy noodles and mushrooms braised in oyster sauce, kung pao chicken, black bean, chow mein, and sweet and sour – which all work as a main course or as part of a sharing platter. Chicken, fish, tofu and noodles are foods associated with the celebration, all believed to have a certain wisdom or symbolic meaning. Therefore, you are not only sticking with tradition but ticking the boxes to suit all tastes. Offer jasmine steamed rice and plain boiled rice too alongside fried rice.
How to serve
The Chinese New Year gathering is centred around banquets and food sharing so a tasting menu works really well. Serve a selection of dishes in separate bowls on a large platter for sharers to mix together to suit their tastes. If you want a ‘party’ theme, Chinese food is perfect because it is easy to eat and works as finger food. Another idea is to hold a themed set menu which includes an array of starters, mains and desserts for your customers to mix and match and choose from.
What to pour
It is not just your food offering that reflects the theme; your drinks offering is equally as important. Take time to research traditional Chinese beers, for example, and get your front of house staff to taste them so that if a customer asks for a recommendation or a description of the beverage, they are able to give one. Popular choices include Tiger Beer, Tsingtao and the not-so-well-known Lucky Beer, so speak to your supplier about what’s available. Tea is a must for those who do not drink alcohol, so stock up on the traditional options: pu-erh (black tea), chrysanthemum tea (herbal and caffeine-free), green tea and oolong.
Decorating your premises with Chinese lanterns or the traditional colours of Chinese New Year – red and gold – will help your outlet stand out and remain memorable. Fortune cookies are also a nice treat. Why not make your own and put a message inside such as dining vouchers or free drink coupons? Or, for an authentic after-dinner gift, why not fill a red envelope with money (a few pennies will do) as it is believed to bring good luck. Make sure you serve meat-free and gluten-free dishes and sauces too.