Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 5 this year, and the entire celebration lasts for a total of 15 days. It is a Lunar New Year tradition to eat certain foods and snacks to bring prosperity and blessings for the upcoming year. For this reason, restaurants and businesses prepare special Lunar New Year dishes just for the occasion. While there are varying New Year’s traditions depending on the region and ethnic group, most people believe in eating noodles for longevity, rice cakes for success, or fish to bless the upcoming year with a surplus of food and money. Because 2019 is the Year of the Pig, restaurants like Uniboil in Los Angeles are making unique dishes specifically centered around pigs.
Uniboil specializes in individualized Chinese-style hot pots that use higher-quality meats, like certified Angus beef and Kurobuta pork from Snake River Farms. All of the dishes from Uniboil’s menu were put together by Hong Kong-based Michelin-starred chef John Wang. For Lunar New Year, co-owner Alan Pun will be releasing a new dish and two new drinks inspired by the mega box office success of “Crazy Rich Asians.”
“Chinese people believe that eating pork for the Chinese New Year will bring you extra strength in the coming year. Plus, given that this is the Year of the Pig, it seemed like the perfect dish.”
“This year’s theme is gold, glam and opulence. This is the year of the pig, so I thought it would only be fitting to release the special 24-karat gold Sichuan numbing pork trotters,” says Pun.
The color gold has a special meaning in Chinese culture. Certain colors are considered auspicious, and gold is one of the luckiest colors. It represents wealth, good fortune and happiness.
“Chinese people believe that eating pork for the Chinese New Year will bring you extra strength in the coming year. Plus, given that this is the Year of the Pig, it seemed like the perfect dish,” said Pun.
Playing on the “Crazy Rich Asians” theme, Pun wanted to “drench everything in gold.” The Sichuan numbing pork trotters at Uniboil are boiled, braised and simmered for five to six hours until the skin and meat fall off the bones. They use a blend of 15 herbs and spices to achieve the numbing ma la taste. For those who are apprehensive, pig trotters are widely considered to be one of the most delicious parts of a pig. In Chinese culture, they are also viewed as a collagen-rich food that enhances health and beauty.
The Sichuan pork trotters at Uniboil are served whole and individually wrapped with gold leaf sheets. Since 24-karat gold is very soft and fragile, each trotter must be meticulously wrapped. The 24-karat plated gold makes for the ultimate “wow” factor.
Edible gold is all about opulence. Uniboil’s pork trotters are already extremely flavorful with their spicy numbing sauce, while the gold does not have any flavor and only adds sparkle to the dish. With the intent to usher in prosperity for the new year, these pork trotters wrapped in gold are a fitting symbol.
To wash down the spicy pork trotters, Uniboil is also unveiling two new limited-edition drinks for the Lunar New Year. The first is a tri-layered concoction topped with 24-karat gold. The drink is made with blue agar jelly, jasmine green tea and tiramisu cream topping. For those who are not familiar with agar jelly, it is considered a healthier alternative to boba. It has a similar taste and is also chewy, but made with algae fiber. Agar is said to help digestion and help detoxify the body.
The second limited-edition drink is a bright red watermelon slush topped with 24-karat gold. The slush is made with fresh watermelon, jasmine green tea, cheese cream and topped with 24-karat gold flakes.
"Red is a symbolic color of happiness in China, and watermelon is a drink that typically pairs with hot pots, so we hope that this drink will bring happiness to those who order it."
“Red is a symbolic color of happiness in China, and watermelon is a drink that typically pairs with hot pots, so we hope that this drink will bring happiness to those who order it,” says Pun.
In addition to these Lunar New Year dishes, any customer who dines at Uniboil from January 21 to February 17 will have a chance to spin a lucky wheel. Every customer will go home with a prize, ranging from red envelopes and free food, to Pandora’s 18-karat gold-plated Year of the Pig charm. The limited-edition Lunar New Year specials will only be available at the Monterey Park Uniboil location.
Uniboil is located at 500 N Atlantic Blvd #127, Monterey Park, CA 91754.