Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lunar New Year in Atlanta's China Town

At the end of January, I somehow discovered through Facebook that Atlanta has a China Town and that the community was going to throw a Lunar New Year celebration!  Caleb had planned to work on learning a new coding technique that day, so my sister-in-law Hope and I headed out to Doraville for the festivities.

There was a tent at the celebration site.  It cost $5 to go in, and I know there were tasty foods inside and I think some crafts and cultural dances, but Hope and I stayed outside.  We mainly came for the Lion Dance and Dragon Dance, which were being held outside anyway.

Chinese New Year Celebration in Atlanta | Lindsay Eryn
The lion dance came first.  A drummer boomed out a rolling beat throughout the performance.  The lions roved around the ring and then fought each other.  The lion on the right won the battle, but then both of them were given a head of lettuce to eat.  Scattering the leaves signifies a new start along with the new year, and brings good luck.  Usually the greens are hanging or hiding in difficult places, and if the lions find them, it will bring a good harvest for the year.  In researching the dance, I learned that in more traditional settings, putting the greens in more difficult to reach places results in a pretty cool show that's an impressive display of the dancers' skills.  Pretty cool!

Chinese New Year Celebration in Atlanta | Lindsay Eryn

At the end of the dance, the lions went around the edge of the ring to collect red envelopes that had been given to the audience to put money inside.  Giving the lions the red money envelopes is said to bring good luck, but it is also a nice perk for the performers, especially if they've done some impressive green picking work.

Chinese New Year in Atlanta | Lindsay Eryn

The next event was the dragon dance.  The dragon chased after a spinning ball and did lots of cool loops and tricks.  The ball often signifies a pearl of wisdom, but during the new year, it represents the sun.

Once the dances were finished, it was time for lunch.  Instead of paying to go inside the food+activities tent, Hope suggested we walk the 10 yards to the China Town Mall and check out their food court.  All of the restaurants there were authentic Chinese!  Even the menus were in Chinese, many of them handwritten!  I was so excited, but I can't read Chinese, so I walked around the tables of people eating until I found something I liked.

"Excuse me, what is that you're eating, and where can I get some?"
"This is beef brisket soup.  They make the noodles fresh!  You can order it there at the restaurant behind you.  If you need any help, come get me and I can order it for you."

My new favorite Chinese restaurant | Lindsay Eryn
This is where I got my food!  Take a look at their menu here!

I waited in line and found an English menu.  That one menu was the only English thing around for a few feet.  The people working in the restaurant were communicating entirely in Chinese, even to the customers.  After ordering and waiting 10 minutes for my soup, I began to worry that I wouldn't even know when my food was ready, because the waitress was calling out the finished foods in Chinese!  I moved closer to the counter hoping that seeing me would jog her memory, and eventually, in soft tones, an older lady said something to me and gestured to the noodle soup in her hands with a smile.  My food!

Delicious Chinese soup in Atlanta | Lindsay Eryn

The soup was so delicious.  It reminded me of pho, but I liked this better than pho.  I can't wait to go back to this food court!  There were lots of things I wanted to try, and I haven't had fresh made dumplings in so long, but I also gotta get me some more of this soup!  Hand made, made to order noodles in beef broth?  Sign me up!

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