Everybody loves the beginning of the new year. It’s a fresh start, a chance to do over, to do better. 2012 was already destined to be a big year in many ways, I can feel it in my bones, but it’s even better when you get to do it twice! I was a little sceptical about going to Chinatown for Chinese New Year, having been privy to dragon madness at this end of town before, where the streets are packed in, the heat is suffocating and the beast is coming full force ahead, straight for you. Tonight was different. The night when people celebrate with their families in a dignified, quiet way and reflect on the year behind and the one ahead, and it was awesome to be a part of this tranquil celebration.
Last year was the Year of the Rabbit. With the motto “to relax”, the year was meant to signify calm, diplomacy, sensitivity and consideration for others. Fittingly, the phrase for this year, The Year of the Dragon, is “I reign”, and the energy it carries is supposed to be more powerful, intense, exhilarating and with it carrying an added level of risk. The main characteristic of The Year of the Dragon is luck, something which I think we could all use a bit of in the current climate, economic or otherwise.
Tonight was all about getting together with friends to reflect on the year behind and the year ahead. The fact that we had decided on Chinatown on Chinese New Year was actually a little accidental, but we decided to take the risk once we realised. The destination was the main thing. Chinese Noodle House on Edward Street is apparently famous. It shares the same name as an equally hole-in-the-wall establishment in the same complex, and they sit across from one another as though having a stand-off. Anybody that regularly attends either will tell you the other is a dud, although admittedly I have eaten at both and found each to be rather good in its own way.
Wine glasses are glamorous plastic cups, which is actually not that far from trend having been served a “Frozen Young Coconut Crushie” from Misschu over the weekend in its original packaging. Tea, of course, is placed on the table once you are seated and menus are usually distributed in the street before your table is ready, in order to hurry the ordering process. Tonight they are uncharacteristically patient, as we chat and wait for the other half of our party to arrive. I have been here for dinner for two once before and was asked to order in the street before my friend arrived, and I’ve never been so close to being physically forced from my chair with half of bottle of wine left to go.
Between four of us we order the Special Braised Eggplant and Egg and Chive Dumplings, as well as a tainted dish for the meaties, with steamed rice. The condiments are always available at your table, with soy sauce, vinegar and chilli to choose from. The food is so moreish, it’s quite disgusting how much you can eat while chatting away, and I’m thankful we have ordered just enough without piles of food to pick at before it’s whisked away.
It becomes clear once the table is cleared three times over that we have oustayed our welcome, and the bill is placed on the table while chopsticks are pushed around to draw it to our attention. For around $8pp, I think that’s pretty fair, and we leave a sizeable tip (in comparison to the bill) to show our gratitude.
I have brought my camera in order to capture the sights on the streets, and am a little tiny bit disappointed when the only bright and showy performance is a guy on stilts gesturing to his legs, beckoning me to have a photo taken with him. Absolutely not. But he is full of life, and I realise, so are the streets. There are no dragons, fireworks or crackers, but there are people everywhere and the streets feel alive.
We also take a wander over to the Darling Quarter, with a plethora of new bars and restaurants and some light installations. Below is a little photographic tour of what we discovered.
Chinese Noodle House
8 Quay St Tg2 Prince Centre, Haymarket, NSW
02 9281 4508