For his blow-out "We Are All Pigs" celebration, chef Henry Lu will draw from his childhood memories of the holiday.
Growing up in the Bronx, chef Henry Lu celebrated just two holidays: Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year. And Chinese New Year was, by far, the bigger deal. His parents, who had emigrated from China and opened quick-service Chinese restaurants in the borough, instilled in Lu a deep love for the celebration, which brought together far-flung family and friends to gather around food.
This year, Lu will keep that tradition alive at the South Williamsburg restaurant Loosie's Kitchen, where he is executive chef. On February 5, he's hosting a "We Are All Pigs" Chinese New Year celebration featuring a big buffet, lots of Tsingtao, and an abundance of "house party vibes."
"What I want to portray was a grand gathering feast of friends and family—something super casual but very exciting, to celebrate the Year of the Pig," says Lu, who plans to channel some of the festive, large-format dishes his mother and grandmother made when he was growing up.
"I always loved steamed whole fish—there's something so nice and elegant about it. My mom used to make it for me all the time," says Lu. "We’re doing steamed whole porgy. I’m also getting suckling pigs and cooking them down so the skin gets nice and crispy, and I'm making a filling of pork belly to put back into the pig, so people can carve into it and assemble it as a bao." The build-your-own steamed bun fixins will include pickles, cilantro, hoisin, chicken char siu, tofu, garlic, and ginger.
The buffet-style menu will also include fried spring rolls, steamed fish in ginger, galangal, and lemongrass, and sweet sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf and covered in a sweet dipping sauce (inspired by his grandmother's recipe.)
Lu looks forward to hosting his parents—"my biggest critics and biggest fans"—at the event.
"They love coming out; they criticize me so much," he says with a laugh. "I really wanted to share this day with them."
The "We Are All Pigs" celebration takes place on February 5 from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. at Loosie's Kitchen. Tickets cost $30 per person. RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org.