Lifestyle

Lock In 353 Days of Good Fortune With These Lunar New Year Celebrations in NYC

Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with these NYC events and maybe you'll harness its intellect, determination, and bravery.

Photo by @kirstenbanal, photo courtesy of Chop Suey Club
Photo by @kirstenbanal, photo courtesy of Chop Suey Club
Photo by @kirstenbanal, photo courtesy of Chop Suey Club

For many Asian cultures across the world, Lunar New Year marks a celebrated and sacred turning of a new leaf. This year, February 10 kicks off the Year of the Wood Dragon. Regarded as the strongest of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs, the dragon promises prosperity and good fortune as people harness the mythical creature’s intellect, determination, and bravery. Along with traditional celebrations like money in red envelopes, lively dancing, and home-cooked family meals, the city’s vibrant AAPI community is buzzing with ways to ring in the new year. From all-you-can-eat dim sum to lion dances and tea egg demos, here’s how to celebrate Lunar New Year in NYC.

Photo by @missjanemok, photo courtesy of Chop Suey Club
Photo by @missjanemok, photo courtesy of Chop Suey Club
Photo by @missjanemok, photo courtesy of Chop Suey Club

Lunar New Year Events and Parties in NYC

Málà Project x Busboy

February 8
Greenpoint, $88
Known for its neo-Sichuanese cuisine (namely its dry pots), M√°l√† Project is turning up the heat once more through a Lunar New Year collaboration Busboy, a local lifestyle brand oriented to the food and beverage industry. Hosted at the restaurant’s Brooklyn location, guests can spend the evening feasting on a buffet of dry pot, dragon prawns, and dumplings, while sipping on any of the four specialty cocktails. Dragon dancers, a DJ, and surprise performances will keep the party going late into the night.

Chop Suey Club x Olly Olly Market

February 11
Chelsea, $78
Founded by owner Ruoyi Jiang, the Chop Suey Club lifestyle boutique curates a thoughtful selection of products-clothes, accessories, home goods, and trinkets-designed by Chinese and Chinese American creatives from across the globe. The boutique’s much-anticipated annual Lunar New Year party, this year dubbed Dragonpalooza, will be held at Olly Olly Market in Chelsea. Co-hosted by CINGS (the China Institute Next Gen x Serica Initiative nonprofit that advocates for Asian American inclusion) and SYRO (a queer-owned footwear brand), expect an open bar, complimentary Olly Olly Market gift cards, a claw machine game filled with prizes from Olly Olly and its partners, tooth gem and flash tattoo stations, mahjong tables, and dragon dancing.

The Seaport x New York Chinese Cultural Center

February 17
The Seaport, Free entry
Live lion dance performances, Chinese calligraphy workshops, and Chinese lion chain crafting sessions come to The Seaport this month to honor the revelrous holiday. Hosted alongside the New York Chinese Cultural Center, the Lunar New Year Celebration at The Seaport offers a full afternoon of activities completely free of charge. After you’ve fashioned your nautical lion chains and practiced your penmanship, head over to the Tin Building for an innovative Chinese dinner at House of the Red Pearl or peruse the ingredients and pantry must-haves at Mercantile East.

Market 57

February 18
Pier 57, Free entry
Backed by the James Beard Foundation, Market 57 is a veritable culinary playground. Among this food hall’s many stands, there’s an emphasis on a wide variety of Asian vendors specializing in everything from Japanese karaage and Chinese bubble tea to South Asian-inspired ice cream and Chinese American dim sum. Yet another reason to drop by this month is for the Lunar New Year Celebration. In addition to lion dancers, music, and crafts, guests can sign up for a free dumpling-making class and tea egg demonstrations.

Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Where to Shop Small This Lunar New Year in NYC

Cibone x Eriko Nagata Floral Design Studio

February 10‚Äď11
Greenpoint, Prices vary
A bouquet of auspicious flowers sets the mood for top tier Lunar New Year. NYC-based Eriko Nagata Floral Design Studio pops up with a temporary flower market at Japanese lifestyle shop Cibone. Curated on the spot by the Japanese flower artist herself, take home a bouquet of traditionally lucky flowers like peonies, pussy willows, and chrysanthemums. Afterwards, explore the rest of the offerings at the 50 Norman building like the Japanese soup stock store Dashi Okume, as well as the Japanese- and French-melded restaurant House.

Wing on Wo & Co.

Through February 29
Chinatown
Holding the title for the oldest continuously operating store in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Wing on Wo & Co. is an undisputed New York City institution. With a five-generation-long legacy, some version of the family-run shop has lived on Mott Street since the 1890s. Currently, the store is run by Mei Lum and functions as a seller of porcelain antiques and Asian American cultural goods. To celebrate the new year, Wing on Wo & Co. has invited more than 20 AAPI artists to create and sell functional artwork, like vases, bells, and incense holders, out of its shop as part of the “Power as Infinite” ceramics show. Pieces are available online and in-store.

Yu and Me Books

Ongoing
Chinatown
After a fire forced Yu and Me Books to temporarily close its storefront last year, owner Lucy Yu was greeted with an outpouring of donations and love from the community. Now, the Asian American, woman-owned bookstore has officially reopened its doors just in time for the Lunar New Year. A haven for Asian storytelling and immigrant narratives, there are swaths of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, graphic novels, and works sourced from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop to help celebrate the new year.

Photo courtesy of Tolo
Photo courtesy of Tolo
Photo courtesy of Tolo

Lunar New Year Dinners and Special Menus in NYC

Hana Makgeolli

February 8
Greenpoint, Prices vary
Motivated by a dream to expand people’s knowledge of sool (Korean alcoholic beverages) and the sense of community that surrounds it, Alice Jun and John Limb transformed their makgeolli (unfiltered Korean rice wine) business from a startup out of Jun’s apartment to a store and tasting room in Greenpoint. As a special Seollal (Korean New Year) treat, chef Susan Kim of Doshi is posting up at Hana Makgeolli to prepare traditional Korean dishes like mandu tteokguk (rice cake soup with dumplings), bossam (boiled pork), and bindaetteok (mung bean pancake).

Tolo

February 9
Chinatown, $100
Amid the dim sum palaces, porcelain purveyors, jewelry shops, and well-stocked markets of Chinatown is a recent newcomer to the neighborhood, Tolo. At the helm of the dark and sultry restaurant/wine bar that specializes traditional Chinese recipes melded with newer culinary influences is chef Ron Yan (Parcelle). For the holiday this year, groups of six to 12 guests can feast on Yan’s extravagant prix fixe menu with plates like Jiaozi Dumplings, Lion’s Head Meatballs, Longevity Noodles, and a communal Poon Choi (lobster, scallops, prawns, bean curd, vegetables). The meal is also paired with wines curated specifically from past dragon years.

Romeo’s x Nom Wah

February 10
East Village, $25
If Romeo (we’re talking Leo DiCaprio’s character from the 1996 cult classic Romeo + Juliet) were to design a bar in the East Village in 2024, it would be Romeo’s. Illuminated by hot pink hues and a projection of romantic movies on loop, this spot gives off that coveted “if you know, you know” vibe. As the cocktail bar teams up with Nom Wah dim sum parlor, locals can drop by for an all-you-can-eat Lunar New Year-themed spread. Pair heaps of dim sum with inventive cocktails like the Pistachio Mai Tai or a Coconut Whiskey Ginger.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on¬†Instagram,¬†TikTok,¬†Twitter,¬†Facebook,¬†Pinterest, and¬†YouTube.

Izzy Baskette is the New York City Staff Writer for Thrillist. Talk to her at [email protected] or find her on Instagram.

Lifestyle

The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena
Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood
Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Montrose
Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Westchester
Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

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