Chinese New Year

Five places to celebrate outside of Chinatown

新年快乐! Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! The year of the rooster begins this Saturday (January 28th) with celebrations going until February 2nd.

Hakkasan (Multiple) — Not your typical Chinese restaurant with its sleek interior and unusual twists on traditional Cantonese dishes (cod with champagne and honey, Peking duck salad with pomelo). Apparently, their recipe for success works. Hakkasan is the only Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant in London and they have grown to 11 locations world-wide. Book one of their London locations to experience where it started.

Hutong (London) — One of the best ways to enjoy views in The Shard is to book* a table at Hutong located on the 33rd floor. The interior features traditional wooden Chinese chairs and red lanterns looking out floor-to-ceiling windows. We enjoyed a delicious and filling 10-course meal of dim sum and other Northern Chinese dishes. 2030 111257
The Shard Level 33, 31 St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY

London Hong Kong (Middlesex) — This Chinese restaurant is located near Terminal 4 Heathrow airport. In addition to dim sum, our Chinese New Year’s lunch included lobster noodles, pi pa yai (my parents’ favorite duck dish), perfectly sautéed Chinese vegetables and my all-time favorite, grapefruit and mango tapioca pudding dessert. There was much more and every dish was perfectly prepared. 2087 547666
388 Bath Road, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 0DH

Mandarin Kitchen (London) — Mandarin Kitchen offers delicious Chinese seafood where the main attraction amongst a moderate menu is lobster noodle. It is on the pricey side, but the portion is large and meant to be shared. 2077 279012
14-16 Queensway, London W2 3RX

Phoenix Palace (London) — We are always on the look out for great dim sum and this place knows what they are doing. They offer traditional menu items, including some with a twist. We had a selection of dumplings (lobster, prawn and pea shoot and wasabi prawn), baby octopus in lime and chili, and scallop-filled chang fen (long noodles). 2074 863515
5 Glentworth Street, London NW1 5PG

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Surrey Winter Wonderland

Bursts of color in one of Europe’s largest winter gardens

Despite being skeptical, my curiosity was piqued by the description a friend sent: ‘Don’t be fooled into thinking there’s nothing to see in a garden in winter!’. The Sir Harold Hillier Winter Garden in Hampshire certainly did not disappoint.

Sir Harold was a well-known plant collector devoted to collecting plants, shrubs and trees both in the UK and from around the world. Covering four acres, it is now considered one of the largest Winter Garden in Europe. Down winding paved pathways, the Garden features over 650 different plants that are at their peak from November to March, including:

  • crocus
  • cyclamens
  • daphnes
  • dogwoods
  • snowdrops
  • willows
From tree barks to blossoms to stems – who knew winter could be so colorful? 1794 369317
Jermyns Lane, Romsey, Hampshire, Surrey SO51 0QA

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Favorite Fireplaces

Beat the January blues and warm up by a cozy fireplace

Bingham Hotel (Richmond) — This boutique hotel on the River Thames is great for a date night or dinner out with friends. They have a six-course tasting menu that has to be taken by the table. We enjoyed one of the best beef dishes since being on this side of the pond. Afterwards, our party retired to a table with couches by the fireplace to enjoy dessert and drinks. I would also suggest booking a table by a window for market lunch on weekdays, afternoon tea daily or Sunday lunch. 2089 400902
61–63 Petersham Road, Richmond-Upon-Thames TW10 6UT

Clos Maggoire (London) — We had been a bit hesitant to give this place a try given its touristy location and high volume of reviews from out-of-town visitors. However, now we wish we had tried it sooner. The reasonably-priced fixe pre-theatre menu served Monday through Thursday 5 pm to 6 pm was delicious and the setting stunning. The fairy-lit cherry blossoms and fireplace combo earn the much deserved 'Most Romantic Restaurant in London' award and recently featured in Architectural Digest as one of the 'Most Romantic Restaurants in the World'.

Great Fosters (Egham) — For a truly special tea without going into the city, Great Fosters in Egham is worth the trip. Be sure to walk the grounds either before or after your tea. Although specific tables cannot be booked, if you have a party of 4-5 and arrive at their first seating, you are likely to get the table by the fireplace. Novelties include their tea menu that features summertime Pimm's year-round and take away* boxes that matches specialty 'modern-looking' dishes.

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