The Canberra Times

Celebrate the delicious side of Lunar New Year in Dickson

Miya Wu outside her business Little Wu Street Food in Dickson.

In partnership with the City Renewal Authority.

Lunar New Year is here and you know what that means - it's time to feast.

Getting together with family and friends to eat is at the traditional heart of this important and delicious time that's celebrated by many cultures around the world.

And where better to welcome in the Year of the Water Tiger with some auspicious, tasty treats than Dickson, Canberra's multi-cultural food mecca.

Dickson is again embracing the festivities to mark the Lunar New Year and its cultural traditions that are all about ensuring a prosperous, healthy and abundant year ahead.

The suburb's vibrant Lunar New Year Festival has begun and will run over the next two weekends - from Thursday to Saturday - with a packed program of entertainment.

It's the perfect opportunity to head to Dickson and explore its array of restaurants and food businesses reflecting the many Asian cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.

Little Wu Street Food

Miya Wu still remembers the excitement she felt as a child at Lunar New Year time growing up the south of China, particularly because of the traditional small red envelopes children received containing "lucky money".

This year she's excited to be part of the Dickson Lunar New Year celebrations and being able to welcome customers to her business Little Wu Street Food. The specialty here is one of her favourite street food dishes, the jianbing, a kind of savoury pancake popular in Northern China.

Celebrate the delicious side of Lunar New Year in Dickson

To celebrate Lunar New Year, Ms Wu is adding some special dumplings to her menu. They're filled with pork and also wombok, the vegetable whose name in Chinese sounds the same as the word for good fortune.

"These dumplings are very special, very lucky. We eat a lot of dumplings at this time," she said. "It's traditional for families to make them together."

As well as heading to Little Wu Street Food to grab your tasty treats, you can see Ms Wu's culinary skills in action during the festival. "I'll be demonstrating how to make dumplings from scratch and the traditional way to eat them," she said. See the full program of events for the festival here.

Jimmy's Place

For more than 20 years, Jimmy's Place has been a dining stalwart on Dickson's Woolley Street serving up authentic Chinese dishes to packed houses of loyal customers.

For Lunar New Year the most popular dishes have remained the same over the years, says owner Linda Lau, whose now retired chef husband Jimmy is the restaurant's namesake.

"It is seafood, everyone eats seafood for Lunar New Year - lobster and whole steamed fish with ginger and shallots - these are symbols of a very happy and good new year ahead," she said.

Festival goers won't miss Jimmy's - it's right where all the main entertainment is taking place.

Mrs Lau said she was excited about the festival and glad to see Dickson becoming livelier again. "We hope more people will come and bring their children to celebrate with us and make our street busy again," she said.

Jimmy's Place is in the heart the Lunar New Year action at Dickson.

The Tradies

A Dickson institution for more than 50 years, The Tradies this year is even more passionate about celebrating the Lunar New Year and that includes a special dining experience for members and guests.

Filipino chef Marilyn Ponce has curated a menu especially for Lunar New Year that's available in the club's popular Essence restaurant throughout the festival. It features "delights" such as sweet and sour pork, seafood with crispy noodles. and homemade sesame seed balls filled with sweet mung beans

"We're always excited to celebrate our diverse community and the Chinese New Year is one of the biggest events for us," said the club's marketing executive Nitya Taneja. "But we wanted to make it particularly special this year to wish everyone a good 2022."

As part of its Lunar New Year celebrations the club is giving new members a traditional red envelope when they join. Instead of the customary cash, you'll find a stash of vouchers to use at the clubs eateries and bars.

The Tradies will host traditional lion dance performances by the Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance Group as part of its celebrations.

Deji Asian Supermarket 

While you're in Dickson for the Lunar New Year Festival make sure you drop into this much-loved Asian grocery store that's right in Woolley Street.

It's the place to come for Nian Gao, the sticky rice cake that's traditionally eaten only for Lunar New Year. Nian Gao is high on the list of lucky foods because the name sounds the same as the Chinese for 'high year'. It's customary to give them to friends and family as a wish for a prosperous, successful year ahead.

"It's a very delightful sweet, just for New Year," said Chenzhi Yin, who used to come to the Deji Asian Supermarket to shop when he was a student but now is the proud owner.

"We have them also in the shape of a fish which signifies abundance - in Chinese, the word for fish has the same sound as the word for 'surplus'."

Mr Yin said he was excited to see strong support for the Lunar New Year Festival after the challenging times of COVID restrictions. "It's been very hard for some businesses but as long as people are coming it's a good sign of a good year ahead," he said.

Chenzhi Yin outside his Deji Asian Supermarket that's decorated for Lunar New Year.

Super Bao

This is the place to celebrate the new year where you can experience the flavours of many Asian countries - all contained in a sumptuous bao. And washed down with delicious classic cocktails with an Asian twist.

Super Bao's stylish Dickson flagship restaurant was opened by locals Paul Xu and Angel Zhang back in 2019, after its beginnings as one of the ACT's most popular market stalls.

"Our idea [with Dickson] was to bring really fresh authentic flavours inspired by traditional Asian food and family recipes but in a modern environment," said Ms Zhang.

Super Bao menu focuses on fresh authentic flavours inspired by traditional Asian food and family recipes.

"A bao is the perfect way to carry these signature flavours, and they're small so you can taste a few, from the traditional pork belly that's very authentic Taiwan-style, or the Korean chicken, or teriyaki tofu Japanese-style."

The Super Bao Dickson menu also goes "beyond the bao" with dishes like Shanghai Duck with Udon noodles, Soft Shell Crab and KungPo Chicken.

Want to explore more? Other restaurants and food businesses in Dickson to add to your list include Hanok Korean BBQ, Wukong Hotpot and Super Emoji, Kimchi-Yujin, ShareTea, Sai Gon Asian Groceries, and Panda Fresh Mart.

Dickson will come alive with the Lunar New Year Festival in a COVID-safe kaleidoscope of colour, sound, tastes and aromas over the next two long weekends - from Thursday, February 3 to Saturday, February 5 and then from Thursday, February 10 to Saturday, February 12. Find all the details here.

In partnership with the City Renewal Authority.