Evanston eateries celebrate the Lunar New Year


Graphic by Hank Yang

Some Evanston restaurants are celebrating the Lunar New Year with special dishes and decor.

Charlotte Varnes, Assistant Copy Editor

With Lunar New Year celebrations beginning Friday on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, several Evanston eateries, including Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge, Coffee Lab, 527 Cafe and Coocoo Cookies are ringing in the Year of the Ox with new menu items.

Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge

Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge, a restaurant specializing in Asian cuisine in Downtown Evanston, is celebrating the Lunar New Year from Feb. 12-28 with a special menu that includes several traditional lucky dishes and ingredients such as peanuts for longevity, lychee for close family bonds and dumplings and spring rolls for wealth.

Koi owner Sandy Chen said she was “really excited” to put up the restaurant’s Lunar New Year decor. Outside, two lanterns hang with firecrackers by the door. Inside, Koi is decked out with red chopsticks and tablecloths.

Typically, Koi includes a lion dance in its festivities, but that tradition was cancelled because of the pandemic. Chen said she is missing the dance this year, but still looks forward to offering “the spirit of the Chinese New Year.”

Coffee Lab

Coffee Lab, located on Noyes Street in north Evanston, is introducing two new menu items in honor of the Lunar New Year: Bibingka, also known as butter mochi cake, and Biko, a coconut sticky rice cake.

Owner Daniel Aquino said the shop tested out some of the items over the past few months and found they were “really popular” with customers. He said the pandemic left limited options for festivities, but the restaurant was able to add new dishes.

Coocoo Cookies

Coocoo Cookies, a natural-ingredient based cookie company, is taking orders for Lunar New Year cookies through next week. Residents can order through their website or Facebook page for pick-up in downtown Evanston.

Owner Phoebe Huang has already made several batches of cookies, with some shaped like oxen, cows, Chinese lanterns and red envelopes. Residents can work with Huang to pick and choose which cookies they order.

527 Cafe

527 Cafe, a Taiwanese cafe in downtown Evanston, has a limited Lunar New Year menu this year due to COVID-19, but they are still featuring two special items: turnip cakes filled with pork and shrimp, and dumplings.

A manager said she is “really excited” for the turnip cakes because 527 has never offered them before.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @charvarnes11

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