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North Texas chefs celebrate Lunar New Year

WFAA took a food tour across the DFW area, finding local restaurants and chefs who celebrate the Lunar New Year. They shared their favorite dish for the holiday.

DALLAS — This weekend, about a quarter of the world will celebrate the Lunar New Year. While each culture has unique traditions, families find common ground celebrating over food around loved ones.

Across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, many pay tribute to the holiday, also known as the Spring Festival. WFAA visited several restaurants, where chefs and owners pay tribute to their ancestors by cooking up traditional dishes. Each store shared their favorite Lunar New Year dish.

At Zhao Star China Bistro in Frisco, Grace Zhao makes steamed cabbage rolls, stuffed with chicken filling. She said it represents a lifetime of good fortune. Zhao explains this dish is special to people in both northern and southern China. Her family is from the north, but she grew up in the south. She doesn't make this on her menu normally, but will offer it on her menu for the Lunar New Year to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

In Dallas, Tony and Moe Singharaj own Zaap Kitchen Lao and Thai Street Eats. In Laos, many celebrate Lunar New Year in addition to Lao New Year in April. Their favorite holiday dish is Nam Khao, crispy rice lettuce wraps. It's a combination of sweet, spicy, sour and tangy flavors. While it's a special dish for the new year, the Singharaj family serves it at their restaurant year-round.

Nearby in the Lower Greenville neighborhood of Dallas, Ngon Vietnamese Kitchen is celebrating Lunar New Year. This year, Vietnam is celebrating the Year of the Cat. The owner, Carol Nguyen, is from Hanoi, Vietnam. Her favorite Lunar New Year dish is Bun Cha Hanoi, a traditional dish. Lyna Tran, the general manager, wrapped the seasoned meatballs and vermicelli in a crisp leaf and dipped it in fish sauce.

Off Walnut Hill in Dallas, June Chow owns Hello Dumpling. She plans to pinch dumplings into the new year, celebrating her Chinese roots and Taiwanese youth. Her fondest memory of Lunar New Year is making dumplings with her family. She stuffs a peanut in one or two dumplings. Whoever eats those get extra fortune for the year.

Over in Lewisville, David Lee, owner of Inchon Food Factory, creates rice cakes that are a staple for any Korean holiday. His favorite is called Yaksik, a sweet rice covered in nuts and dried fruit. It has a sweet base with flavorful toppings. Lee always gifts Yaksik to neighbors and friends for the holidays. He sells it regularly at his stores in the DFW area.

We did this food tour, not knowing what each person would make. They each chose one dish meant to be shared with the people they love. The Lunar New Year highlights that what is unique to each culture isn't different. Instead, it's what we all have in common.

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