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Happy New Year ... this time in Chinese

You could go to Chinatown to celebrate, but if the big dragons are too scary, you can find comfort in the Red Lantern.

Red Lantern is about as authentically Chinese as the Karate Kid. But its fun Oriental theme makes the capacious restaurant a perfect place to celebrate Chinese New Year, especially with special dishes expanding the pan-Asian menu, which adds a bit of American culinary know-how to ease the exotica for the Western palette. Say Happy New Year one more time with a Dragon Roll wrapped in glazed blue fin tuna or a turnip cake flecked with pork. Pork is a big New Year’s dish because it invites strength and wealth. Another holiday tradition, the red envelope containing money or a prize, might brighten someone’s financial landscape. A bit. No doubt, Red Lantern’s huge cube scorpion bowls will be plentiful.

Stripped to brick and iron girder and festooned with vivacious red lanterns — and young buddhaesque statues smiling with acceptance — Red Lantern, which opened last summer, looks festive year-round.

With an easygoing atmosphere, it has built a reputation for drinks from after work to late night (the kitchen is open until 1 a.m.) and nibbles such as superbly salted edamame with white misu aioli and spicy rock shrimp in a tempura batter lightened with water chestnut flour. The menu ranges from filling bowls of steaming noodles to tender, miso-glazed sea bass to sockeye salmon nigiri sushi, which is so delicately sweet that it’s a crime to dab it into soy sauce — so don’t!

Big Night!

Red Lantern is part of Big Night Entertainment Group, whose repertoire includes The Estate nightclub and Shrine at Fox-woods MGM. A second Asian- themed Boston eatery is in the works, says BNEG’s executive chef Kevin Long, whose knack for spice, particularly heat, gives Lantern’s dishes a keen peppery backwash that does not overpower. Sophistication aside, Long sticks with fresh, fine ingredients as a basic.

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