Manager’s Choice

We asked the boss: What’s on your plate for the Lunar New Year?

Not just China, but Korea, Vietnam and Tibet are among those countries that observe the Lunar New Year, each with unique and symbolic dishes. To learn how each country observes the holiday, stop by your favorite East Asian eatery and ask if traditional dishes that mark the occasion are on the menu. Better yet, ask the owner or chef what he or she will be eating for Lunar New Year. Here’s what we learned when we did:

Steamed cod with sauce
Along with a majestic mountain view and elegant, modern décor, Asian Star offers fusion food: “Chinese recipes and American ingredients melded together,” Gary Lee, sole owner for Asian Star’s 20-year history, explains. When its first home at the Canyon Racquet Club closed, investor Ellis Ivory approached Lee with funding to build its current location in 2006. “We were later able to pay him back,” Lee says, with tones of gratitude and pride.
Asian Star’s signature dishes include honey-walnut shrimp, lemon pepper pork and Mandarin-style beef sirloin. Also popular are lettuce wraps with Chinese vegetables and stir-fried chicken. Lee’s favorite dish for Chinese New Year is also served at Asian Star: steamed cod authentically prepared with Chinese teriyaki sauce. (Carolyn Campbell)
Asian Star
7588 S. Union Park Ave., Sandy

Vietnamese rolls for Tết
Chả giò are popular Vietnamese crispy egg rolls that are nearly always served for any special occasion, including Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Phở Tô in Taylorsville serves chả giò using a mixture of minced pork, carrots, onions and mung bean noodles to fill wrappers that are then rolled, deep fried and served warm. The rolls are accompanied by a house dipping sauce—or nuoc cham—that’s a sweet citrusy fish sauce.
Phở Tô also serves gỏi cuốn spring rolls that are made with rice paper and served at room temperature with peanut sauce.
“I would recommend [our rolls] to anyone,” manager Don Ly says. “Everyone really likes the peanut sauce. We serve food a little differently than other restaurants.” Phở Tô’s inviting atmosphere and unique cuisine will keep you coming back for more. (Caitlin Hawker)
Phở Tô
5308 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville

Roast pork, cooked Chinese-style
Dragon Diner’s owner, Dennis Lui, was in his teens when he and his family came to the United States from China in 1967. He established Dragon Diner in 2000. This lively, bustling restaurant on Salt Lake City’s 3900 South features a mixture of Americanized Chinese cuisines. The two most popular dishes are Pon Pon chicken—a batter-fried chicken in a sweet and spicy sauce, and General Tao’s chicken—a tangy, deep-fried chicken dish. Diners also often order the beef and broccoli with snow peas, or the lo mein—offered with a choice of pork, chicken, beef, shrimp or vegetables. Lui’s personal choice for a Chinese New Year dish would be roast pork cooked Chinese-style. (Carolyn Campbell)
Dragon Diner
1331 E. 3900 South, SLC

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