The ultimate guide to Chinese food in Birmingham to celebrate the Lunar New Year

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Chinese food in Birmingham
This plate of sesame chicken is incredible. (Cecilia Wood / Bham Now)

The start of the Lunar New Year is coming up on Tuesday, February 1st, so we’ve got you covered with the history behind the holiday and your guide to 19 local restaurants that serve Chinese food in Birmingham. Although many cultures celebrate the start of the Lunar New Year, the traditions are especially important to the Chinese culture. Support these businesses now to celebrate.

Celebrate the New Year

Birmingham, Birmingham Chinese Festival Association, Chinese New Year
Previous Chinese New Year festivities. (Birmingham Chinese Festival Association)

In Chinese culture, the official start to the new year takes place according to the lunar calendar, or in this case, February 1—just a month after the official new year in The United States. This 16-day-long holiday is celebrated with fireworks on New Year’s Eve for good luck, lantern celebrations and nian huo (Chinese New Year products).

We spoke to Professor Ling Ma of The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. As an instructor of Chinese, she values the traditions set before her, and even shares Birmingham’s plans to celebrate in the midst of the pandemic.

“Personally, the most interesting event is the Dragon Dance. As a kid, this has always been my favorite thing: seeing people dance around in the costume. For my family, my parents always told me not to sweep on Chinese new year as it sweeps away fortunes, and not to eat porridge as it will bring about poverty. In Birmingham, due to COVID, the Lunar New Year is celebrated by cooking a lot of food, sending good wishes over social media and watch Chinese Gala online.”

-Professor Ling Ma, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Instructor of Chinese

A big part of the Lunar New Year is family. This celebration causes the greatest annual migration in the world, according to chinesenewyear.net, and implies that everyone should be back home for New Year’s dinner. The food is an important part of the tradition, since it’s really what brings us together. Let’s check out where can pick up these foods for take out if you want to skip the cooking this year.

1. China Moon

Chinese food in Birmingham
China Moon is perfect for our neighbors in Highland Park. (Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

This spot was packed for lunch on a Wednesday—a very good sign. Nestled right next to the Piggly Wiggly on Clairmont, this Forest Park spot sure does know how to serve up a hearty lunch. Customers rave about their egg rolls and their egg drop soup.

2. Magic Wok

Chinese food in Birmingham
Magic Wok in downtown Birmingham. (Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

On a busy street near UAB Hospital sits Magic Wok. It’s a fan favorite during lunch rush has some popular items such as sesame chicken—a classic. It’s said to be a favorite of UAB employees and rightfully so. Check them out today to get your Chinese food fix in downtown Birmingham.

3. China Master Express

Chinese food in Birmingham
China Master Express is (Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

In need of a quick lunch break but don’t want to leave downtown? China Master Express is the place for you. This spot had one of the highest Google ratings we’ve seen (described as “the bomb.com”) and serves up the public to fuel them for their workday. Pro tip: park in the parking deck—street parking is tight.

4. New China Town

Chinese food in Birmingham
(Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

New China Town—A Five Points classic. Every time you go here, you’ll leave with a styrofoam box filled to the brim with chicken, rice and whatever goodies you ordered. Pro tip: order their crab rangoons. They also are available for delivery on most food delivery platforms—a win for those who are wanting a good takeout meal.

5. Chen Express

crestline
Crestline Village (Bham Now)

This Chen Express location can be found in Crestline, and does not disappoint. This is not only a local pick, but a Bham Now staff favorite. Their top picks are the Szechuan chicken and Chicken Sizzling Rice, and we’re excited to see what the latter is all about. Give them a try tonight—you’ll love it.

6. Great Wall Chinese Restaurant

Chinese food in Birmingham
(Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

Big news for Great Wall—they’ve been voted best Chinese cuisine by Eat This, Not That!, and we’re not surprised. Even better? This accolade comes right before the Lunar New Year, so there’s no better way to celebrate than with a plate of sweet and sour shrimp.

7. Ming’s Cuisine

Birmingham loves Ming’s Cuisine. It’s been around for years and still has the classic decor to prove it. They’re also known for their helpfulness, efficient service and just overall great vibe. Try their kung pao dishes and their egg rolls when you go. 10/10 for us!

8. China Way Restaurant

Chinese food in Birmingham
Check out China Way in all its glory. (Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

This Irondale spot is known for not only its tasty food but also for their drive though. This unique aspect definitely sets themselves apart from the rest and makes picking up some Chinese takeout a breeze. Try it today to order a full meal for under $10—a steal.

9. Black Pearl Asian Cuisine

Chinese food in Birmingham
Check out these fresh dumplings—perfect for the New Year. (Black Pearl)

If you head down 280, you’ll find a little shop in The Colonnade filled with top-rated Asian cuisine that will satisfy every craving. Meet Black Pearl—your new date night spot. Their customers’ go-to picks? Salted Shrimp, Sesame Beef and Drunken Noodles. We’re in.

10. Wok n Roll

Head a little further down 280 and you’ll hit Inverness. Get ready to ‘Wok n Roll’ with this local spot. Big portions, friendly customer service and top notch food are what’s on the menu. Customers’ picks? General Tso’s and Chicken Fried Rice.

11. Golden Dragon

Golden Dragon is one of Bessemer’s best kept secrets. Located on Bessemer Road, this place is known for some of the best Chinese food in Birmingham. Want to try the fan favorites? Mongolian Beef and the Egg Drop Soup. We’ll make the drive, for sure.

12. Hunan Cuisine

Hunan Cuisine Korean Chinese dish Lunar New Year in Birmingham
Kkanpunggi—spicy sweet and sour lightly fried chicken. (Cheyenne Trujillo / Bham Now)

It’s no secret that customers have been going to Hunan Cuisine for years and have grown up with the menu. They recently participated in Hoover International Restaurant Week and are known for their Kkanpunggi—a spicy take on sweet and sour chicken. Check them out for your upcoming lunch plans.

13. Wok Express

Wok Express on Overton Road is Mountain Brook’s go-to. With an extensive menu, this place is great for classics like Hot and Sour Soup and has egg rolls that will impress. Check them out today.

14. Yoe Xpress

Chinese food in Birmingham
Yoe Xpress in Homewood (Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

Yoe Xpress is Homewood’s spot. Located in Downtown Homewood, this place was still poppin’ at 3 PM. It’s known for its quick service and great quality—two things we admire. Orange Chicken and fried rice seem to be the most popular picks here, so we have to go back to try.

15. Red Pearl Restaurant

Chinese food in Birmingham
Chinese beer? Count us in. (Cecilia Wood / Bham Now)

One of our favorite spots to get Chinese food in Birmingham! Red Pearl has it all, including an Asian market that serves up fresh, authentic Asian ingredients. The chicken fried rice absolutely slaps, so be sure to count on Red Pearl if you’re craving Chinese food on Valley Ave.

16. Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Cooking

Mr. Chen's
These dumplings from Mr. Chen’s are what dreams are made of. (Mr. Chen’s)

You can’t think about Birmingham Chinese food without thinking of Mr. Chen’s. There’s something special and authentic about this spot on Green Springs Highway that people love to visit. They’re know for their variety in taste and their fresh ingredients. Try their dumplings—a Lunar New Year tradition.

17. Happy Wok

Birmingham, Happy Wok, Trussville, asian cuisine
Happy Wok in Trussville. (Patience Itson / Bham Now)

One of the newest places to grab Chinese food in Trussville is Happy Wok Asian Cuisine. Boasting a 4.5 star rating on Google—it’s going to be one that I have to try. They’re known for their large portions and fantastic service. From menu items like roasted duck to chicken and broccoli, you know you won’t leave hungry.

18. China Bistro

Chinese food in Birmingham
Check out their extensive menu. (China Bistro / Facebook)

China Bistro is serving up the classics in Vestavia Hills. Although you can’t go wrong with anything, they serve gluten-free options which are a game changer for those with dietary restrictions. Check it out seven days a week to see what the hype is all about.

19. Moon Star

Chinese food in Birmingham
We’ll take it all, please. (Moon Star)

Let’s be real—Valley Ave. has some of the best finds and Moon Star is no exception. This spot also has a cult-like following with a Google review stating that they’ve been customers since 1999. What?! Some of the chef’s specialties include Curry Chicken and Shrimp with Garlic Sauce—yum!

Looking for the best Chinese food spots in Huntsville? Check them out here.

Movin’ in Mobile? Check out our Mobile Chinese Food Guide.

Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know what you want to see on our Instagram—we love all things small biz.

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Olivia Moses
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