10 Delicious Desserts to Celebrate Lunar New Year in LA
Celebrate the Year of the Tiger with vegan ice cream kits, taro donuts, high tea, and more.
Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in China and other Asian countries like Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan, beginning on the first new moon of the lunar calendar year and encompassing up to two full weeks of celebrations. The holiday, which falls on February 1 this year, represents a time to give thanks to ancestors and gather with extended family that you might only get to see once a year.
Los Angeles is home to one of the largest Asian populations in the country and many restaurants honor the tradition with lavish seasonal dishes meant to bring luck and prosperity into the new year. Desserts like Babao Fan eight treasure rice, Nian gao sticky rice cakes, Tang Yuan glutinous rice dumplings, and fried sesame seed balls are classics, but in recent years, a new generation of Asian-American pastry chefs, chocolatiers, and ice cream makers are introducing new twists on nostalgic flavors. Here are ten Lunar New Year desserts in LA to help you ring in the Year of the Tiger:
Chinese New Year Ice Cream Kit
Dear Bella Creamery
Alice Cherng and Belinda Wei are known for their luscious scratch-made, seasonally rotating vegan ice creams, offering everything from sundaes to floats to soft serve and ice cream cakes. To celebrate their Taiwanese-American heritage, they are launching three special flavors for Lunar New Year—Black Sesame, Taiwanese Pineapple Cake, and Dan Dan Noodle, a sweet and spicy collaboration with Fly By Jing chili crisp swirled into a rich peanut butter ice cream base that’s infused with toasted sesame oil, vinegar, and gluten-free soy sauce. Noodles are typically eaten during Lunar New Year, with long noodles symbolizing a long life.
How to order: All three Lunar New Year flavors are available by the scoop at their Hollywood scoop shop, and you can pre-order the celebration kit online, including three pints of ice cream, a jar of homemade red bean sauce, and Chinese candies to pick-up in store between January 29 and February 3.
Lunar New Year Mousse Cake and Lucky Candy Buttercream Cake
The glossy mousse cakes by former fine dining pastry chefs Evelyn Ling and Joe Cheng Reed are almost too pretty to eat, but slice into their limited edition Lunar New Year Mousse Cake for layers of sweetened red bean mousse, fragrant Earl Grey cake, and white chocolate crunch. There's also a Buttercream Sponge Cake inspired by the strawberry-flavored lucky candies that are popular during Lunar New Year, with Valrhona strawberry ganache and strawberry buttercream.
How to order: Curbside pick-up in the Arts District on Santa Fe Ave and 7th Ave from Friday through Sunday, along with Saturday evening pick-ups in Temple City at Elite Ballet Theatre. The Lucky Candy Buttercream Cake can also be ordered for nationwide delivery on Goldbelly.
Red Bean Mille Crêpes
Lady M Confections
Arcadia, Irvine and West Hollywood
Lady M is famous for delicate mille crêpes, melding Japanese and French technique and flavors for ethereal cakes that aren't too sweet. For Lunar New Year, their signature crêpes are layered with pastry cream and Hokkaido azuki red bean paste, which is a common filling in traditional Chinese pastries like sesame seed balls and nian gao sticky rice cakes.
How to order: Walk-ins are accepted and you can order individual slices of cake or pick up the full Red Bean Mille Crepes in each boutique. You can order online for same-day pick-up and order Lunar New Year gift sets with crepe cakes, custom red envelopes, and confections to ship nationally too.
Prosperity Taro Donut
Holey Grail Donuts
Culver City is the only spot on the mainland where you can sample this mini Hawaiian donut chain that releases weekly tasting boxes that celebrate their community. Holey Grail's fermented taro root donuts are light and fluffy with a crispy exterior, fried to order in coconut oil, and vegan too. Kumquats are a traditional gift of prosperity during Lunar New Year, and this kumquat poppy seed glaze is a bright, tart seasonal favorite.
How to order: Walk in or order pickup online from Platform LA. Holey Grain is opening a Santa Monica shop soon.
Black Sesame Praline Yuzu Bonbons + Black Sesame Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Bars
Korean-American chocolatier Christine Sull Sarioz is creating a couple of limited edition chocolate delicacies for Lunar New Year. Cube-shaped Black Sesame Praline and Yuzu Ganache Bonbons will be in stock beginning January 22, along with Black Sesame Hazelnut Praline Bars in festive red packaging that resembles the lucky red envelopes that are traditionally filled with cash and given to family and friends during the holiday.
How to order: Milla Chocolates is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. Tuesdays they are open for pickup only from noon to 5 pm. Curbside pick-up is also available by ordering ahead.
Almond Jelly Gelato
Chifa is a luxe, jade-hued paradise for Peruvian-Chinese cuisine, and for the second weekend of Lunar New Year, they’re offering a special dessert in collaboration with local gelato maker Alicia Liu of Lavender and Truffles. Make a reservation to dip into dishes like Tiradito with fresh Japanese sea bream and wood-grilled Lomo Saltado, but make sure you finish your meal with Liu’s exclusive Almond Gelato, served in a silver sundae bowl with a fruit garnish and inspired by almond jelly fruit cocktails that are a popular dessert at Chinese buffets. The dessert will appear on the menu the weekend of February 11.
How to order: Reservations are encouraged and can be made via Tock. Order online for pick-up.
Lunar New Year High Tea
Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia
From February 1st through February 13, this new, mid-century modern hotel that’s adjacent to the Santa Anita race track celebrates the Year of the Tiger with a sweet and savory high tea menu. Make a reservation and tuck into Chinese pastries like Coconut Jelly, Red Date Mochi, Black Sesame Red Date Walnut Cookies, Peanut Sesame Candy, and Sugared Tomatoes by Jasmine Chou at Kaki Bakery.
How to order: High tea service is available in the Mélange High Tea Lounge, Thursday through Sunday from 2–5 pm. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance via OpenTable or by calling the restaurant directly at 626-412-8688.
Xôi Gấc and Mứt
Sesame LA owner Linda Sivrican is curating Lunar New Year boxes filled with sweet candies (Mứt) and flower-shaped sticky red rice cakes (Xôi Gấc) made by her mom to share some of her favorite Lunar New Year treats with guests. The box includes candied versions of lotus seeds, ginger, soursop, colorful young coconut meat, and crunchy black and golden sesame bites along with other surprises.
How to order: Pre-order $35 Lunar New Year boxes via Instagram DM. There will also be a limited number of boxes available in the shop, and Xôi Gấc cakes will be available for individual purchase ($8) while supplies last.
Oolong Pineapple Cake, White Rabbit and Jasmine Sea Salt Osmanthus Ice Cream
This Filipino American-owned scoop shop has three Lunar New Year-inspired flavors on the menu in February, including a White Rabbit flavor inspired by Shanghainese White Rabbit milk candy that went viral in 2019. The Oolong Pineapple Cake features swirls of house-made pineapple jam and buttery pieces of Taiwanese-style pineapple pastry, and brand new this year is a Jasmine Tea Ice Cream with swirls of osmanthus flower-infused salted white chocolate ganache.
How to order: These Lunar New Year flavors will be available at all five scoop shops to order by the scoop or pint throughout the month of February. Wanderlust Creamery also offers in-store pickup and local delivery throughout Los Angeles, and ships pints nationwide from their online pint shop.
Harmony and Good Fortune
Vietnamese-owned icon Crustacean rings in the Lunar New Year with two desserts for harmony and good fortune. Harmony is a vegan coconut tapioca base with a medley of tropical fruit including dragon fruit, lychee, rambutan, jackfruit, and coconut sorbet. Good Fortune resembles a tangerine, a traditional symbol for wealth, with sticky gooey butter cake, makrut lime, and dehydrated mandarin.
How to order: Both limited Lunar New Year desserts will be available from February 1 through 6 during dinner service at Crustacean for $22 each. Same-day reservations are not accepted. Make reservations online.