BSC Lunar New Year in Birmingham 2016
Dancers at a past BSC Chinese New Year Celebration. Photo via Birmingham-Southern College’s Facebook

Ready for another new year? Lunar New Year is February 12 and there are important steps to ensure good luck for the coming year. Wear red, clean your house and make sure you eat all the lucky foods. Check out these nine restaurants to celebrate Lunar New Year in Birmingham.

What is Lunar New Year?

Mr. Chen's Lunar New Year in Birmingham
The best lion dancer we can get during a pandemic. Photo via Cheyenne Trujillo for Bham Now

I knew little about Chinese New Year until I attended its celebration at Birmingham-Southern College. This festival, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, was full of food and dancing. Walls were decorated in bright red and golden colors with symbols of cute animals welcoming visitors at every door.

The more I celebrated Lunar New Year, the more I learned about the holiday. Although people may be more familiar with “Chinese New Year,” Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout several East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, like Vietnam, Singapore, Tibet, South Korea and China to name a few. This holiday always happens sometime between late January and early February. 2021 is the year of the of ox—my year.

Is this Lunar New Year your year?

Year of the Ox decorations Lunar New Year in Birmingham
The cutest ox I have ever seen. Photo via Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

Each country has corresponding zodiac animals for their calendar. Legends say that twelve animals competed in a race for their place on the zodiac calendar. In almost every country that celebrates Lunar New Year, the rat comes in first place because the rat rode on the back of the ox for most of the race. The pig or boar always comes in last place because the pig stopped for a snack and a nap along the way. Coming in second place is usually the ox or water buffalo. Every twelve years an ox year occurs, like 2021.

If you were born during any of these following years, then you’re an ox: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 or 2009. Traits of the ox are:

  • diligence
  • dependability
  • strength
  • determination
  • stubbornness

Does this sound about like anyone you know?


Red money envelopes Lunar New Year in Birmingham
The character translation on the envelope reads “good fortune.” Photo via Jason Leung on Unsplash

There are always dos and don’ts to welcome a new year. Some traditions of Lunar New Year are wearing red for good luck and cleaning your house before the Lunar New Year but not the day of. People usually hand out red money envelopes to loved ones to encourage prosperity.

Of course, the best part about any holiday is the food 🥳. Lunar New Year feasts usually enjoy whole fish or chicken, dumplings, noodles, spring rolls and dried fruit candies. Check out this post from the Hoover Public Library to learn more.

Celebrate Lunar New Year in Birmingham with these restaurants.

1. Mr. Chen’s

Mr. Chen's Hoover Lunar New Year in Birmingham
A vegan option for your Lunar New Year feast. Photo via Eating Alabama’s Facebook

The Hoover location has a few items that you can’t get from the Mr. Chen’s in Homewood, like the pan fried turnip cakes. If you visit Mr. Chen’s in Homewood on Lunar New Year, check out the attached Hometown Supermarket.

On February 12th, Hometown Supermarket is doing a raffle to celebrate Lunar New Year in Birmingham for 2021. Instead of their huge food celebration, customers will get to spin the prize wheel twice for every $50 they spend at the supermarket.

2. Happy Wok

Happy Wok duck Lunar New Year in Birmingham
A good substitute for a whole chicken. Photo via Happy Wok’s Facebook

Happy Wok has many of the necessary dishes for a good and prosperous Lunar New Year in Birmingham. Instead of a whole chicken, you can order a whole duck (or half a duck) and ten steam buns for everyone to enjoy.

  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11AM-9PM | Friday-Saturday 11AM-9:30PM
  • Location: 1423 Gadsden Hwy # 111, Birmingham, AL, 35235
  • Contact: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Call

3. Red Pearl

Looks like they ordered the whole menu. Photo via Bham Now

Red Pearl was the first Chinese restaurant in Birmingham that I tried and is still a favorite of mine. Aside from delicious food, they have a market to explore and are selling seasonal Japanese Kit Kats right now. Ever had a sparkling wine with strawberries flavored Kit Kat? That’s the best way to celebrate Lunar New Year in Birmingham.

4. Hunan Cuisine

Hunan Cuisine Korean Chinese dish Lunar New Year in Birmingham
Kkanpunggi—spicy sweet and sour lightly fried chicken. Photo via Cheyenne Trujillo for Bham Now

This spot on 280 seems a bit tucked away amongst the other restaurants. However, Hunan Cuisine offers a few items that are Korean Chinese dishes. It’s easy to celebrate Lunar New Year in Birmingham at this restaurant with dishes respective from both countries.

  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11AM-2:20PM, 4-8PM
  • Location: 5510 US-280, Birmingham, AL 35242
  • Contact: Website | Call

5. Ginza Sushi & Korean BBQ

Can’t you hear the sizzling hot grill and smell the citrus BBQ spices cooking? Photo via Ginza Birmingham’s Facebook

Another great fusion restaurant, Ginza Sushi & Korean BBQ has…well sushi and Korean BBQ. This menu has all the favorites you love, like bul-go-gi or teriyaki bento boxes. The cool part about Ginza are the Korean BBQ tables where you can cook the BBQ fresh yourself.

  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 11AM-2PM and 5-9PM
  • Location: 5291 Valleydale Rd, Suite 101, Birmingham, AL 35242
  • Contact: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Call

6. Seoul Restaurant

There are many great restaurants on Green Springs. Seoul Restaurant is another hidden gem along this highway. This Korean restaurant serves favorites, like bi bim bap (a rice dish with meat, veggies and a fried egg) and fire chicken. Fire chicken, or buldak, is a mix of BBQ chicken, onions and peppers marinated in a spicy sauce.

  • Hours: Wednesday-Monday 11AM-9PM
  • Location: 430 Green Springs Hwy, Birmingham, AL 35209
  • Contact: Call

7. Pho Pho

It’s tradition to eat noodles for a long life—can’t argue with that. Photo via Bham Now

Celebrate Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) with Pho Pho. This is a popular spot for pho amongst Birmingham’s Vietnamese community. Personally, Pho Pho is my favorite spot for Vietnamese food. The Pizitz’s location makes it easy to get all your favorite foods and try new ones.

8. Saigon Noodle House

All the toppings so you can truly have it your way. Photo via Bham Now

Saigon Noodle House will have you set for Lunar New Year in Birmingham. A part of many Lunar New Year traditions is longevity noodles (or any noodle dish) and spring rolls. Longevity noodles ensure a long lifeline, like the length of the noodle, and spring rolls similar shape to gold bars promises wealth. You can get all those dishes and more at Saigon Noodle House.

9. Pho Sizzle Rolled Ice Cream & Bubble Tea

Pho Sizzle noodle dishes Lunar New Year in Birmingham
The centerpiece of my Lunar New Year celebration. Photo via Ame Turner’s unofficial Pho Sizzle’s Facebook

Another spot for your Tết celebration, Pho Sizzle serves Vietnamese food, rolled ice cream and bubble tea. Another important part of the celebration is desserts. Eating dried fruits or other treats is supposed to guarantee a sweet year. Enjoy Lunar New Year in Birmingham with rolled ice cream.

  • Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11AM-9PM | Friday-Saturday 11AM-9:30PM | Sunday 11AM-8PM
  • Locations: 5880 Trussville Crossing Blvd, #100, Birmingham, AL 35235
  • Contact: Website | Call

How are you celebrating the ox this year? Let us know on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Cheyenne Trujillo

    Curiosity gets the best of me over everything else. Passionate about writing, editing and adventuring.