The Lunar New Year celebration begins Friday when the Year of the Dog is ushered in. Dog years are my favorites, even though they seem longer than the others.
Sometimes called Chinese New Year, the event is celebrated by several Asian countries. It's never on the same day but rather is tied to the occurrence of the first new moon between January 1 and February 20. The moon will be newest on Feb. 16 this year.
So you might see some celebrations around town, especially in the area of Mills 50 where there is a high concentration of Asian businesses and restaurants. Look for lanterns, red ribbons and firecrackers. There might be dragons.
And you can participate by dining out at an Asian restaurant. You might want to use the occasion to visit Peter's Kitchen China Bistro, a new restaurant just a bit easter of the Mills 50 district.
Peter's opened in early December, taking over the freestanding building that, most recently and ever so briefly, held Gaviota Brasas & More. It has been home to many, many other restaurants, as well.
Peter's might have a good long stay here, if for no other reason that the dining community seems to have taken an immediate liking to it.
The food here is Hong Kong style, which is a mix of Cantonese and Western, especially British because, you know, empire and all that. So is the food here authentic? Yes, it's authentic Hong Kong style.
Some colleagues and I stopped in for a lunch not long ago. We started with an order of Pan-fried Dumplings, densely packed with nicely seasoned ground pork and with a pot-stickerish burnish on the outside. Good, but at $8.99 I'm not sure each was worth a buck fifty.
I chose the Orange Chicken, gooey nuggets of tender chicken doused with the appropriately hued sweet and sour sauce.
One of my companions had the Curry Chicken, which looks like a yellow curry you might find in a Thai or Indian restaurant but, in the Hong Kong style, is much milder. It was wokked with al dente chunks of green pepper and sliced onions, served with a nutty brown rice.
My other companion had the Beef with Broccoli, which also had baby corn cobs, snap peas and bok choy, tossed in a just thick enough oyster sauce. (Actually, my dining guest had requested just a plate of vegetables, which the server said was not possible, which I found oddly unaccommodating, so she ordered this dish instead.)
At the end of our meal, a woman I assume had the authority to do so, gifted us with three lemon tarts for dessert. The tiny crusts were wonderfully flaky and the custard perfectly tart. A much better ending to a Chinese meal than a stale cookie wrapped in cellophane.
The dining room is spacious though not huge. When I visited they had not yet started to utilize the patio at the restaurant's entrance (which has been moved around to the Colonial Drive side). It's a bright, tidy and pleasant dining room.
By the way, Peter's will have a New Year celebration on Sunday, Feb. 18, with a lion dance and a demonstration of kung fu, for some reason. They are perfectly within their rights to have the celebration on Sunday because the Lunar New Year festivities traditionally last two weeks.
I'm not sure if dogs are allowed.
Peter's Kitchen Chinese Bistro is at 3922 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-895-7184.