Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year, the first day of festivities as the Year of the Ox turns into the Year of the Tiger.
While Chinese restaurants across the country will be celebrating with elaborate feasts, if you can’t get there, you’ll need a plan B. It could be takeout, cook your own, or it could be as well. mean a trip to your local supermarket, where a wide range of Chinese-inspired snacks and treats are available.
This year, Marks & Spencer caused a small internet storm with its Lunar New Year special, the panda bao. Although it is the year of the tiger, the mushroom-filled baos are inspired by China’s national animal and have reportedly flown off the shelves.
We brought a sample, along with a range of products, to restaurateur Amy Poon. If the name is familiar to you, it’s because she’s the daughter of Bill who ran the legendary Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant Poon’s in the 1970s.
Amy, who is now resurrecting the brand with a range of sauces and pop-ups (including a Chinese New Year celebration at London’s Mortimer House on February 9-10) was, it’s fair to say, skeptical. The majority of Chinese food, she explains, is best prepared just before eating, not sitting in the refrigerated cabinet at the shops for days.
How do these premade wontons, spring rolls and more compare to the real deal? There was only one way to find out (and if they sound too dreary, we’ve also included a list of some stellar Chinese restaurants across the country)…