The Year of the Sheep was welcomed on Saturday when Chinatown threw its grandest soiree of the year. During the day, streets were blocked off as a parade entertained the throngs with requisite dragon and lion dancers, floats carrying local dignitaries, and Chinatown royalty performing their best princess hand waves.
But the party really got going at sundown when live bands, DJs, martial-arts demonstrations, more lion dancing, and a beer garden arrived on the scene.
In Chinatown’s West Plaza, I hosted the Culinary Stage where the food festivities took place. And this year it proved to be an all-star cast with appearances by Felix Fang (Vice Munchies Sex+Food and Fox’s Master Chef), Alvin Cailan (Eggslut and Ramen Champ), Andy Ricker (Pok Pok), Evan Kleiman (KCRW’s Good Food), and Jet Tila (Stir Market and Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen).
There were scallion pancake, dumpling, and cocktail demos, as well as an appearance by Miss Chinatown Queen 2015 Alice Wong.
The main event was co-hosted by Tila, who set the ground rules for Cutthroat Chinatown—our cooking competition of the night—with Fang going up against O.D. Covasa, Ramen Champ’s sous chef.
Guest judge Kleiman got the last word on whose cooking reigned supreme at the Culinary Stage, and gave Fang the victory for the noodle-showdown round. In the final round, there were many wrenches tossed into the contest in the form of “sabotages” with O.D. receiving the bulk of the obstructions. Ultimately, however, O.D. made Ramen Champ proud by constructing dumplings (only his second time ever making them) with Spam filling and heated by a breakfast sandwich press. Kleiman showed slight concern about the canned pork product, but chose Covasa as the winner in overall appeal, and also gave demerits to Fang for pre-making her ground-pork filling and dipping sauce.
Ironically, it was a pork-filled night in this new Year of the Sheep. I don’t think any sheep minded at all.