13 Must-Try Foods For Chinese New Year

© Denise Chan / Wikimedia Commons
© Denise Chan / Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor15 February 2018

Chinese New Year is one of the world’s biggest celebrations. The colourful, spirited event is celebrated across the globe – and tons of delicious food is eaten during it. We’ve assembled a list of the most amazing foods traditionally eaten to celebrate the day.


Mai Tung (crispy rice cakes)

Mai Tung | © ImGz / Wikimedia Commons

A sticky, toothsome mixture of golden syrup, Chinese brown sugar, rice crispies and peanuts, cut into squares or triangles.

Chyuhn haap (tray of togetherness)

A lucky dip tray of sweets, nuts and sugared fruits traditionally divided into six or eight compartments. They represent peace and harmony, which each component symbolising a different kind of luck for the year ahead. If you eat the melon seeds, for example, you’ll be blessed with wealth in the coming year.

Chinese Yuanbao (gold ingot candy)

Chocolate in the shape of gold ingots are given to guests and children and symbolise wealth and prosperity for the year ahead.

Main course

Roast pork

Roast pork | © Jon914 / Wikimedia Commons

Red roast pork, often served from a whole pig, is traditionally eaten for the new year. You can buy the meat already roasted to serve to your guests at home.

Steamed fish

Steamed fish | © Tsaoliphoin / Wikimedia Commons

In Chinese, the word for ‘fish’ sounds like ‘surplus’, and this is considered auspicious as it’s good to have a surplus of savings at the end of the year. Carp and catfish are especially popular, as the words for them sound like ‘good luck’ and ‘year surplus’, respectively.

Poon choi (big feast bowl)

Poon choi | © PEmniaCHAN / Wikimedia Commons

Served in a communal metal basin, this mishmash of a dish includes multiple kinds of meat and fish, including, but not limited to: beef, pork, chicken, duck, abalone (snails), prawn and crab, as well as bean curd and white radish. Traditionally it took several days to hunt, butcher and assemble the meat to cook, and a well-cooked poon choi is seen to be indicative of culinary prowess.

Side dishes


Noodles | © Arnold Galiteo / Wikimedia Commons

To eat noodles at Chinese New Year means you’ll have happiness and longevity throughout the next year.

Dumplings and spring rolls

Legend has it the more dumplings you eat at new year, the more money you’ll make throughout the year. Which the perfect reason to eat 3,425,345 dumplings and be full, happy and rich.


Tang yuan (soup balls)

Small, sweet, chewy balls made from glutinous rice flour served in a bowl of boiling water or sweet syrup, often flavoured with ginger. They’re filled with ground sesame seeds.

Nian gao (year cake)

A sticky, sweet snack made from ground rice. It’s considered auspicious to eat the cake at this time of year, as nian gao sounds like the Chinese for ‘higher year’.


Bak kwa (pork jerky)

Bak kwa | © Alpha / Wikimedia Commons

A chewy, savoury snack made of pork, you won’t be able to get enough of this jerky’s smoky flavour.


Reunion wine

Wine | © pdphoto.org / Wikimedia Commons

A wine that families drink together to welcome in the new year, that ushers in the spring.

Oolong tea

Tea is a great choice for cutting through the fatty, sweet foods that will be eaten. An oolong is a traditional, delicious choice that goes with everything.