Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year in Melbourne

Updated 3 months ago

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Lunar New Year is a big deal. In China alone, it counts for one of the world’s largest migrations, as many millions of people return home during the 40-day Spring Festival. But it reaches well beyond China, with celebrations in Malaysia, Korea (for Seollal), Vietnam (for Tet), Thailand (for Songkran), and beyond. In 2024, the Year of the Dragon will roar to life on Saturday, February 10 (but festivities often kick off with a reunion dinner the night before). Whether you’re unable to make it home, or you just want to embrace the celebrations, these are the places in Melbourne to ring it in. Many are offering exclusive set menus, lion dancing, firecrackers and more – with some offerings running right through February. They’re sure to make this year’s celebration one to remember.

  • You’ll get extra points for booking a table at this subterranean fine diner. Step into the glass-walled lift and descend to a singular Lunar New Year celebration. Its five-course banquet ($188pp) is bookended by Pacific oysters with yuzu and a golden-sesame parfait dessert (with many showstoppers in between).

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  • Crown Casino’s in-house Cantonese restaurant looks good from every angle, with luxe dining rooms, a Mongolian tent and sweeping views of the Birrarung. It’s an auspicious spot to welcome in the Year of the Dragon. From February 9 to 18, you can do so with its banquet ($88pp) of Peking duck pancake, spanner crab dumplings, Japanese scallops with XO sauce, and more. Find your table here.

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  • Yee sang (or yu sheng) season has arrived, and this charcoal-fuelled Japanese diner is coming along for the ride. Here, the technicolour dish features salmon sashimi, prawn, crisp veggies and matcha soba noodles. (And you can push the boat out a little more with green lip abalone and caviar.) Book a table at the moody diner, or order the dish to take away.

  • This laneway diner takes cues from nations in the Sunda continental shelf – like Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. And for two weeks, it’s celebrating Lunar New Year with two Chinese specials. A vibrant yee sang salad ($32pp) features yellowfin tuna and Ora King salmon, and comes ready for the toss. Plus, silky gui fei paofan ($130) – a lobster- and marron-based bisque with saffron jasmine rice – signifies the Year of the Dragon. If you want all the good fortune they’ll bring, you have to book ahead.

  • Scott Pickett’s esteemed Thai diner is welcoming the Year of the Dragon with a weekend of food, cocktails and lion dances. Feast on whole steamed barramundi with hot-and-sour salad ($66), dry-aged duck breast with black vinegar ($55) and XO fried rice with spanner crab ($38), alongside special cocktails. Book a table on February 9 to catch the traditional dances.

  • Fish is one of the most significant dishes during Chinese New Year – and it’s taking centrestage at this laneway diner. The seven-course banquet ($98pp) will offer kingfish ceviche, barramundi steamed in three types of soy sauce, and more. Book a table here on February 9 and 10 for a feast of food, lion dancing and firecrackers.

  • Glistening views of the bay make a fine backdrop to a Cantonese banquet ($98pp) at The Espy’s upstairs restaurant. It starts with a glass of Moet, and takes you through house-made lobster dumplings, duck rice, prosperity salad with hiramasa kingfish, and more. The dragon dance lands at 7pm, but you’ll have to book your spot to catch it.

  • An intimate omakase experience from a group behind Michelin-starred restaurants. Perch at the counter for nine theatrical courses or commandeer the eight-person private dining room. Dishes might include saltwater eel, green-tea soba noodles or decadent Wagyu and foie gras katsu.

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  • Descend to this low-lit underground restaurant for a vibrant, 10-dish banquet ($149pp) – curated to welcome luck, prosperity, longevity and more in the New Year. Stop by at lunch or dinner for yee sang, golden bao buns, liang fen (jelly noodles) with abalone, minced Wagyu with sesame puffs, and more. Book the feast from February 10 to 18.

  • Book an elegant burgundy booth and come hungry for Moonhouse’s abundant Lunar New Year weekend. Its festive banquet ($75pp) includes roast duck pancakes, beef-and-bone-marrow spring rolls and longevity noodles. The feastful celebrations run from February 9 to 11.

  • Beyond a heritage 19th-century façade, this four-storey boozer serves contemporary spins on Chinese cuisine. With room for 350 punters, there’ll be plenty of places to ring in the Lunar New Year with your fam (or chosen fam). Book a spot on February 9 or 10 for yee sang, lion dances and an abundance of good times.

  • This opulent tearoom is lifting every pinkie finger for its Lunar New Year buffet, which runs from February 9 to 18. Its festive dinner ($165pp, $82.50 per child) includes chilled lobster, oysters, blue swimmer crab and clams with balsamic and fresh herbs, alongside meat and salads. And it’s taking bookings now.

  • The red lanterns will be up for Hawker Hall’s month-long Lunar New Year celebration. Mark the opening weekend with lion dances, a fortune-cookie giveaway worth $888, and share-friendly banquets ($88pp) with sashimi, wontons and more. If you miss out on the first few days, you can book the same special feast until February 29.

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  • This Vietnamese spot is normally all about spicy birds. But it’s putting seafood centrestage for Tet, or Vietnamese New Year, on February 10 and 11. The show stopper is a three-tier seafood tower (starting at $99pp). It’s piled high with king prawns, lemongrass squid, oysters, tuna tartare, papaya salad and much more. Book a table and land early – there are just 10 towers per service.

  • It’s hard to lose your hotpot ingredients in the broth here: its automated hotpot stations always bring them back to the surface. That’s good news for your Lunar New Year feast, which comes with a decadent platter of lobster, abalone, octopus, scallop and more. They can all be rescued from broth purgatory mid-feast. Plus, find lion dances on February 9 and 10. Also in Doncaster East.

  • It seems fitting to ring in this New Year under the watchful eye of a 1.5-tonne steel dragon. The international hotpot chain is serving its fiery DIY soups with your choice of 80 ingredients. Panda dials up the fun most nights with musical performances, bian lian (Sichuan opera) and panda shows – so it’s bound to be a good time here. Also in Carnegie.

  • This dumpling chain has a Michelin star and outlets all around the world. Here, soup-filled xiaolongbao are fastidiously prepared in full public view. Book a table to ring in the Year of the Dragon with dumplings, buns, Taiwanese fried chicken, Shanghai-style drunken chicken and much more.