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Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a time of family reunions, delicious food and joy amongst communities.
This special time of year is considered the grandest festival in China and within Chinese communities all over the world. The festival is based upon the Lunar Calendar, and this year happens to fall on Saturday 25th January.
Ring in the New Year by bringing the whole family together at Lu Ban Restaurant for a dining experience they won’t forget.
Celebrate the Chinese culture and taste the food honouring the start of the Spring harvest. Chinese New Year blesses the yield of the upcoming harvest, which is why there is such a heavy focus on food throughout the festival.
“The joy of celebration is always associated with food”
It is thought that the festival originated in the Shang Dynasty almost 4000 years ago with the intention of worshiping ancestors and warding off bad spirits. Today it holds much of the same tradition with people spring cleaning their homes in the days leading up to the new year in order to ‘dust away’ bad luck and stepping into the new year fresh and clear.
You may have heard people wish others good luck with the Cantonese phrase: ‘Gong Hei Fat Choy’ but it is important to note what the Mandarin speaking regions say: ‘Guojian Hao’ meaning “Wishing you well in passing over Nian”. So, who or what is Nian?
Legend has it that Nian is the name of a beast who would come out and feed on the crops whilst forcing people into their homes on one day a year. He roamed the land on New Year’s Eve so in order to protect themselves, the villagers would warn him off with loud noises and the colour red.
Red decorations as well as roaring lion dances and firecrackers are common traditions for the New Year to help the people ‘overcome Nian’. Once Nian has been passed the real celebration can begin.
Chinese New Year’s Day is the start of a 16 day celebration until the Lantern festival on the fifth day of the first Lunar month. There are three parts to Chinese New Year including: Little Year (17th-24th), Spring Festival (25th-4th Feb) and Lantern Festival (8th Feb).
Little Year [17th-24th January 2020]
Little Year is all about preparation. The period is usually filled with memorial and prayer ceremonies with activities including house cleaning to sweep away bad luck.
Sugar melons made of malt are eaten on the first day of Little Year with the end of the 8 days being concluded with a reunion dinner for the family.
This dinner is the most important meal of the year. After dinner has finished children will receive red envelopes usually containing money, whilst the family stays up to ring in the New Year. Read more about Chinese traditions and customs here.
Spring Festival [25th-4th February 2020]
The Spring Festival celebrates the new year which in 2020 is the Year of the Rat, and is kicked off with firecrackers and a day of greetings and blessings amongst neighbours and friends.
In Ancient China, people would use the weather, stars and moon to predict the fortunes of the year whereas now, the idea is to hold on to good fortune meaning that is forbidden to sweep or clean in case the fortune is swept away.
Food and drink is consumed and each day brings a different tradition and activity.
Lantern Festival [8th February]
In the days leading up to the Lantern Festival, people will begin preparations by purchasing lanterns and constructing their own at home.
During the festival, Chinese families line the streets with beautiful lanterns for the whole community to enjoy as well as writing riddles for visitors to find and solve.
Chinese New Year is a time for coming together whether that be through family reunion, tradition or food.
Enjoy all three with an unforgettable experience at Lu Ban. Join us as we celebrate the most important event in the Chinese calendar. Book here now.
Small Plate Dining
‘Small Plate’ dining is a style of dining that is tremendously popular all around the world.
Typically, small plates allow diners to select a number of dishes to enjoy so they can savour a range of flavours. The dishes can be shared around a table between guests, and can vary in style – anything from street food to the finest of dining.
Small Plates have been popular in European and Asian dining culture for centuries. In Europe, you can enjoy Spanish tapas, or Greek or Turkish Meze, or maybe Italian Antipasti. In other continents, you can savour Banchan from Korea, Zakuski in Russia, Izakaya from Japan, or Xiaochi or Xiao Pan from China.
Tapas is perhaps one of the better known small plate dining styles in the United Kingdom. The word derives from ‘Taper’ (or to cover), and tapas was served by innkeepers to keep travellers fed as they took their rooms. These innkeepers would write the names of the dishes on ‘Tapa’ or pan lids and soon the term took hold. Despite this theory, there are currently many other ideas about how the style began.
Tapas is constantly evolving and whilst there are many traditional dishes that diners would expect to see, new dishes are constantly on offer, and many tapas chefs bring their small plates to a National Tapas Competition, held annually in Valladolid, Spain.
Meze was made popular through the rise of the Ottoman empire. Places such as Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and many more all have different styles of Meze. The word itself comes from the Persian ‘Maze’ which was to taste or snack.
Depending on the region, meze is made and served with local ingredients and local drinks. The ingredients may include Halloumi or other local cheeses, vegetables, and meats such as beef or lamb, or nearer the coast, served with fish or other seafood.
It is guessed that the traditions of meze are similar to tapas in that they were small dishes intended to help those on their travels, that became local specialities and remain as they do today.
Xiaochi is an important style of small plate dining in China. Once, and remaining in some towns and cities, it is considered a snack or transportable meal that can be taken whilst working. Yet, with the rise in popularity of Xiaochi, and with local markets or towns becoming renowned for their favourite dishes, this style of dining has expanded to restaurants and risen in popularity. The Xiaochi dishes are often highly localised, with local chefs using ingredients to make delicious dishes for diners. People often travel from surrounding areas to enjoy these renowned dishes, and they almost always take on interesting names, so dishes can be distinguished from others. Xiao Pan is a style of dining that originated at Lu Ban Restaurant in Liverpool. Inspired by the dishes of Tianjin, fused with the Xiaochi idea that using local ingredients to create special dishes that are served as small plates, would offer discerning diners from the UK something delicious to try. The menu at Lu Ban is inspired by the cuisine of Tianjin, a northern coastal region of China where food from the sea, and fresh, seasonal local produce is a feature of the typical Tianjin diet. Our menus respect Tianjin culture, and each of our dishes has a story based on our own experiences there. You can take view the ingredients we currently use in our ‘Xiao Pan’ small plates menu here.
Tianjin is the inspiration for the Lu Ban Restaurant – read more about the history, the culture and cusine of one of the largest cities in the World.Continue reading
Our restaurant is inspired by Lu Ban, a revered Chinese God credited with inventing most modern day tools, and considered the master of vocational skills.Continue reading