Roar! It’s the year of the Tiger!

It may not feel so to the golfer but 2010 is the year of the Tiger! According to the Chinese Zodiac, February 14th, 2010 is more than Valentine’s day this year. It’s also the beginning of the year of the tiger, a time of strength, determination and persistence, as well as stability and growth. As a Chinatown resident for the past 5 years, I always look forward to the limelight being on my neighbourhood!

Ping Pong Dim Sum kicked off the celebration in grand style last night. Executives flew in from London to welcome in the Year of the Tiger with a dragon dance, live music, dancers and gifts. A diverse crowd of guests and Penn Quarter residents gathered despite the snow to enjoy complementary cocktails from Ping Pong’s long list of original creations (my favourite: the wasabi amaretto sour!) and small steamed bites. Caligraphers were at hand to show you how to write your name in Chinese characters and you could also watch he chefs carefully prepare the dim sums in front of you! Since there are very few places to go for dim sums in Washington D.C., the first US location of the British chain has quickly become a favourite of mine, and not just because I live two blocks away. I certainly wish them stability and growth for this coming year 😉

The National Geographic is also helping joining in the celebration this year, which makes sense given that they are currently playing host to an “army” of Chinese clay soldiers. On February 6th, they are hosting a family friendly event, presented by P.F. Chang China Bistro. The free (yes, you read right) festival will include food from P.F. Chang (while supplies last… so you might want to get there right at 11am), film screening, activities for kids and live demonstrations of ping pong and martial arts. 150 tickets to the 12pm viewing of the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit will also be distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

If crowds don’t phase you, the main event to attend is of course the Lunar New Year Festival in Chinatown. Head to H street between 6th and 8th where the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association hosts a parade with Chinese Lion and Dragon Dances. Perhaps in order not to compete with Valentine’s day, the celebrations will be held on February 21st starting at 2pm, with the giant firecracker lighting happening at 3:45pm. Book your table now at Tony Cheng for traditional dim sum or at visit the folks at Ping Pong to warm up with some blossoming hot tea.

As usual, a variety of Chinese or pan-Asian restaurants will be offering special menus throughout the two weeks that the Lunar New Year festival lasts, though most restaurants it seems are lumping that special menu together with their Valentine’s day offerings. Nonetheless, from February 15-21, Ten Penh will be serving a $45 four-course ($65 with wine pairing) tiger-inspired menu and a Tiger Eye featured cocktail and the Mandarin Oriental is offering a special “Tale of the Tiger” package to its guests throughout February. 

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