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Feb 22, 2007 09:11 AM

Dearth of Chinese New Year Coverage?

Having grown up Chinese in America, Chinese New Year has always been a festive occasion with at least one special dinner (out or in) for me. This year, I've noticed a relative dearth of information on Chinese New Year celebrations in general and especially in terms of restaurant suggestions for a New Year's banquet. In New York, there was a little coverage of Manhattan's Chinatown's celebrations, but as far as I know zero coverage of outer boroughs (Flushing, Sunset Park, etc...). As for restaurant suggestions, I found information on the gothamist, which I think were dominated by non-Chinese restaurants holding Pig-oriented meals because of the Year of the Pig.

Is this a reflection of the lack of public relations/advertising push of Chinese restaurants and communities? For instance, I feel as if there is much more restaurant information on Fat Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo, Bastille Day, etc... As Chowhounds, we should care about such promotions, since this is an easy way to make authentic Chinese food more accessible to the general public, which in turn would promote such food in the country where there is only Chinese-American food.

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  1. I think its definitely a function of the restaurants not promoting themselves! There is very little promotion by Chinese restaurants to the general public/in the English language press. The holiday is something that happens within the community.

    Most press hoopla is driven by promotion from the industry/PR efforts rather than disinterested research.I mean, how many french people or NOLA people actually live in NY in comparison to the number of restaurants who could use a special occasion hook to build their businesses?. In chinatowns, the good places are full of banquet groups on Chinese New Year probably, without a lot of gringos who dont know the drill. Tho Ive had great meals on chinese new year in the past.

    ps with a question - I was in a little place in sunset park on Monday - two lion dance groups came through - none of the people involved were Chinese (these looked hispanic). what gives on this?

    3 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      It's a popular activity for kids, like karate.

      1. re: jen kalb

        In Boston, at least, the lion dancers are advanced students from the local martial arts schools, and few of their students are actually Asian, let alone Chinese.

        There's one lion dance troupe here that's all female, and I've noticed that most of their members are Asian. They're also one of the best of the local groups - incredible energy.

        1. re: jen kalb

          For New Year's we went to Cantoon Garden and were waiting outside for a friend when a lion dance group came through. I pointed out to my wife how they get red pockets (hong bao) from each place they go into, so you can make a little bit of money! Ok, not really, but it's another amusing aspect of Chinese culture that goes unnoticed.

          However, there are some promotionso f Chinese restaurants, for instance Taste of Chinatown. So I think it's a shame that not more is being done for New Year's.

        2. On the west coast and in SF in particular, CNY gets a lot of much if not more then Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick's Day, etc. In SF there's support coming from the city and visitor's bureau since it attracks a lot of commerce. The parade usually draws 100,000+ people...and a good deal of those people usually eat before/after. The SF parade usually gets a live west coast TV broadcast and several reruns.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ML8000

            Yup! In L.A. the Times spent most of it's Food Section talking about chinese things with chinese recipes. Also each of the big Asian cities have their own festivals/Parade. Chinatown, Monterrey Park and Alhambra. Volvo is the big sponsor for the Alhambra one.

            One thing I notice when going out around Chinese New Year is to avoid the markets, not the restaurants. Most people seem to prepare big banquets at HOME rather than go out to eat. So perhaps that is why restaurants themselves don't hype it up too much...


          2. On the contrary, I find the coverage in New York to grow more and more each year, although it is mostly Manhattan centric. I've read lots of stuff about events in Chinatown in the papers, and there have been (continue to be?) events held at cultural centers throughout the city. I spoke to my sister in Taiwan and remarked that New Year must be way more festive there. Her reply? Don't hold your breath. She said that it gets less and less festive each year.

            2 Replies
            1. re: gloriousfood

              I really hope that's the case. On restaurant promotion, I guess I just have a naive expectation that the media puts out restaurant recommendations without pressure from the restaurants themselves.

              1. re: spchang

                its a lot easier to "research" in your inbox than it is to go out there and beat the bushes.

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