Next week, people will celebrate the Chinese New Year. For those that may not know about this holiday, here are some facts. This annual celebration starts on the new moon that occurs between January 21st & February 20th. The 2019 Chinese year will starts on February 5, 2019 and ends on January 24, 2020.

The festivities usually start the day before the new year and continue until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the new year. Each Chinese New Year is characterized by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. 2019 is the year of the Pig, an animal that symbolizes wealth and prosperity, which are wonderful things we all want in the coming year. Why not start the Chinese New Year off right by celebrating with a meal at Ming Dynasty in Greenville.

The restaurant is located at 3105 E. 10th Street in the Rivergate Shopping Center right beside Ollie's and close to East Carolina University. They specialize in Mandarin, Szechuan and Cantonese dishes as well as providing gluten free, low-fat, peanut-free and vegetarian options. Ming Dynasty has been in business for over thirty years and provides customers with excellent customer service and delicious food, making each guest feel like they are the only ones. Enjoy sitting in comfort at a plush booth or roomy table.

They offer a diverse menu as well as an expansive lunch and dinner buffet for those who have a hard time narrowing down what meal you want to eat. Lunch buffet items include crab rangoon, chow mein, sesame chicken, vegetable lo mein, chicken with broccoli, hot & spicy bean curd, sweet and sour chicken, General Tso’s chicken, seasoned meatballs, pepper chicken, pork with onions, Singapore noodles, steamed rice, chicken fried rice, seasoned potatoes and egg rolls. They have three soups to choose from, soup noodles, assorted cookies, jello and sweet sugared doughnuts. For the dinner buffet they replace the bean curd with peel and eat fried shrimp and add crispy chicken wings. The lunch buffet is $11.95 and includes a drink. The dinner buffet is also $11.95.

For my food tasting I was able to sample several menu items that pay homage to the Chinese New Year. These entrees have a special meaning during this celebratory time. I started my food tour by honoring the Year of the Pig and eating some bone-in pork. One of my favorite kinds of pork is the riblet. The riblet is a smaller section of a pig’s rib that contains a large amount of meat. The first flavor I got to sample (devour) was the Genral Tso’s Riblet dinner. They use small bone-in ribs for this dish. They take the meaty riblets, dredge them in a light seasoned breading and bathe them in a thick glossy Genral Tso’s sauce and sauté. What you get is a plentiful amount of sticky, sweet meat with a side of bright, steamed broccoli and a bowl of white rice. I love the flavor of this sauce with its combination of tangy, sweet heat that has a nice depth of flavor. I found the easiest way to eat this dish is to get your hands dirty and pick up the ribs, chewing the meat off the bone. Or if you want to be more refined, then use your fork.

If you are seeking a bit more heat, choose the Black Pepper Riblet entree. This dish starts with the same meaty ribs that are seasoned with a nice amount of black pepper and other seasonings. They sauté the bone-in riblets with sweet sliced onions mixed with green onion shoots and serve it with a side of white rice. Lay the cooked meat on top of the onion mixture and get ready to use those fingers again, and bite into tender, succulent meat that falls right off the bone. Either riblet meal you choose, you will be starting off your Year of the Pig the right way and starting off the Chinese New Year full and satisfied.

I ended my food tour by tasting the steamed pork dumplings served with ginger sauce. In Chinese culture, wealth was measured by how many gold bars you had and the bars were shaped like boats or purses, now they cook and serve steamed or fried dumplings to celebrate the promise of wealth in the new year. The edible wealth inside these little purse-shaped dumplings is seasoned pork. This entree comes with six dumplings that are steamed in their very own bamboo steamer basket. The soft, billowy dumplings melt in your mouth and the tangy ginger sauce is vibrant and fresh.

Whether you want to celebrate the Chinese New Year by eating hearty ribs or light and airy dumplings, you will honor their culture, and in doing so, possibly gain your own wealth and prosperity in the coming months. Visit Ming Dynasty and fall in love with fresh flavors for every season. Happy Chinese New Year!

Ming Dynasty is open Monday-Thursday 11am-2:30pm & 4-9pm, Friday 11am-2:30pm & 4-10pm, Saturday 4-10pm and Sunday 12-3pm & 4-9pm. During the Government shutdown, Ming Dynasty will provide a free lunch special (entree, soup & drink) to Government employees affected by the shutdown. ID required to get the free meal. If you decide you want to take food home with you, Ming Dynasty provides take-out that is always fast and affordable. You can order lunch or dinner online, just call 252-752-7111 or visit


Ming Dynasty, Villa Verde, and Clean Eatz are providing free meals to federal workers affected by the government shutdown. (Valid ID required-some exclusions apply- check restaurant social media sites for more details)