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Aug 23, 2001 07:33 PM

My wife made a good point about proposed chowdown...

  • v

She noted that if we agree ahead of time to a pre-determined meal, and then less people show, the people that do show will be left to pay the difference. Obviusly, moral suasion (like the fed) can be used against no-shows, but it may be easier to create the menu AFTER we arrive. How has it been done at other chowhound gatherings? I am all for placing the ordering responsibility on one or two persons still.

Being brave enough to offer my e-mail address in my postings, I will volunteer to take a head count at my e-mail address

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  1. Chiming in from SF again - we haven't gone the preset menu route at all here. We've also found that 6-8 people makes a nice dinner - taken it to 11 for a few but then you can't really talk with everyone and the people are part of what makes the food and gathering fun.

    Haven't gotten as far as the LA posts yet to see how their preset meal and big crowd went...

    Just my Bay Area 2cents!

    9 Replies
    1. re: Celery

      Good point. If we decide to stick with the preset, It may transpire that after we all arrive and count ourselves, the owner of the restaurant will be willing to adjust the amount of food he presents, and thus the cost.

      I wonder if it might be more fun, though, to do the ordering when we arrive. Maybe someone can post a scan of the menu in a message, so that people can get an idea of specific directions to head in on the menu, the 16-20 person ordering doesn't become a two hour long ordeal in and of itself.

      I will look at the LA board and see if I can figure out what their feelings were on preset menu/large group ordering.

      1. re: Seth Zurer
        Vital Information

        I'm fine with Sept. 2. As I said before, I am willing to collect names at my e-mail address. I have already got three responeses. Unless I hear otherwise from those people, I will assume that they can come on 9/2. I will post periodic reports on the number of people, I propose that we cut off the "registrations" by say next wednesday so we can make final plans.

        As to odering/menu, I am more than happy to defer to someone with special expertise in sichuan style chinese (or chinese food in general). with the amount of people we're having, there is bound to be enough great food no matter what (even if someone orders sesos in oyster sauce).


        1. re: Vital Information

          my order eliminated already!

          i'm down with 9/2

        2. re: Seth Zurer

          Depends on what you mean by a pre-set menu. Many Chinese restaurants out here have fixed price meals for tables of 4, 6, 8 or 10 that vary by the season, don't require advance ordering, and not only are the best dishes but are discounted. For our Chowhound dinner at San Wang in SF, the others may not realize this but I chose the set dinner for 6 with extra servings of soup and supplemented with a few more dishes to have enough for the 8 attending. The prices were so low we wanted to have lots of variety. Also, this was an easy group that directed me to order what I would normally choose for myself. We all chuckle when we remember the waitress nodding toward the white faces and whispering to me that "they" wouldn't like it. There were a few piles of sea cucumber remaining on the plates, but otherwise the Chowhounds dug in.

          You should keep in mind that it's not always possible to adjust proportionately. You have one Peking duck, a whole fish, etc. Having extra people, e.g., 12 people for a 10-person menu can be tough too when they start fighting over the last piece of roast duck or adding in extra servings of individual soup bowls, for example, or counting the tiger prawns.

          On the other hand, if you are in a prepaid, advance ordering situation, you might want to reconsider. It sounds like the Philly group had quite a few no-shows. I have arranged large banquets for on-line groups, many of whom were not known to me personally. Once it got over 20 people, I required them to mail a check to me in advance with plenty of time for the funds to clear. Otherwise I would have been stuck with as much as a $500 deposit if cancelled or the others would have to pay more. The first time I felt I had to do this, I really struggled for a long time. When I asked one of the friends who was planning to attend what he thought about this, he said that anyone who was honest and fair would understand why I needed to do this and anyone who objected was someone I probably couldn't trust and wouldn't want to have around anyway. These were dinners in the $30-50/person inclusive range, no one ever voiced any objections and there were more than enough attendees.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Thank you for the good advice: i will keep all that in mind when negotiating with the restaurant and the hounds.

            1. re: Seth Zurer


              Thanks for doing all this logistical legwork. I am sorry i can not be of more help.

              While I have never been there and have no specific szechwan ordering skills, it seems that others have been there. Rene has detailed his eats extensively (as always) but VI, do you have must-have's that you encountered on eating there? Anyone else?

              In preparation I took a look at chi.eats for rene's orginal post and follow-ups - there is some interesting reading and recommendations there you may want to take a look at. I'll attach a link (but I'm not sure if it'll work, being a search and all)

              Also since the wife (veggie) is coming I would like to plead for one veggie frendly dish if possible - she is not "pure" (not ovo-lacto, will eat oyster sauce, broth etc but does stay away from veggie with bits of meat, dried shrimp etc.)


              1. re: zim
                Vital Information

                Who IS doing the menu?

                I have no particuliar needs, my feeling is that with the size of group that we have, there should be enough good things to eat even if I do not like everything.

                that said, here are my bias and ideas: the speciality of the resturant is sichuan chinese, we should stick with that style of food, this is not the place for cantonese. likewise, i'd prefer we order "authentic" stuff and not things like moo-shoo and kung pao. that said, i'd prefer we keep the sesos and related stuff to a minimun (i know i speak out of both sides); i am all for some vegetable dishes, but note that a lot of chinese vegetable dishes contain some pork or shrimp. as to specific suggestions, a whole fish and the crispy duck (and buns to go along with the duck).

                1. re: Vital Information

                  I had in mind to talk to the guy I contacted earlier at the restaurant tomorrow once I had the final numbers from VI. I'd like to find out if he has any setups like the one Melanie described. Either way I was going to describe the makeup of our group, mention we'd like a couple of vegetarian dishes, and convince him that we are interested in the most authentic un-gringoized Szechuan specialties available, and see what he came up with in terms of a list of dishes. After hearing his suggestions, I was going to come back and relay them to the boards for any last minute fine tuning and then contact him again.

                  I did a little bit of searching on these boards and the internet at large to see what kind of stuff to expect from a szechuan menu, so I have a basic idea: hot peppers, very little fresh seafood, lots of beef, plus I have Rene's posts (and the others on Chicago.eats) as a guide. But if anyone wants to toss out some things they think ought to appear on any szechuan banquet table I'd be delighted to hear them.

                  1. re: Seth Zurer

                    Thanks for all your efforts organizing this. If I can be of any help just let me know. I don’t know very much about Szechuan cuisine, however.

                    I think Tony (Xiao Jun) is the owner and he’ll take care of us very well. Maybe the best thing to do would be to specify a few dishes we definitely want and let him fill in the rest. Especially if they will be a little flexible about the exact number of people this might be easiest. Maybe see what he can do for $25 each?

                    Just about everything I know about the place is in my posts here or to chi.eats. Here are a few other comments (feel free to ignore). They have now translated the list of specials into English which makes things easier. Do you have that list (with A,B,C,D prefixes)? The dry chili rabbit with bone (D33) was very pretty and very good. I’m not sure which lamb we had: either spicy lamb satay in hot platter (D44) or maybe lamb with pure cumin powder xin jang style (D48). From what I can tell they do a very good job with seafood so we shouldn’t avoid that. That LaLaLa extremely spicy diced fish Le Shan style (D7) sounds intriguing as do the other extremely spicy fishes, D22 and D26. We should definitely get some non-hot things too. And I’m all for vegetables. I really wouldn’t worry too much; no matter what we end up with it’s likely to be good.

                    Next time you talk with them you might ask about bringing our own wine. I think they might be open to that. At my first visit I remember a discussion with Tony about matching wines with the smoked tea duck and he seemed pretty interested.

      2. "Being brave enough to offer my e-mail address in my postings"

        Vital---It needn't require bravery to post an email address. If you're afraid of spam at your main address (yes, you'll get some...but not a ton), the trick is to get yourself a second one. Either another AOL screenname or a Hotmail or Yahoo account. And post with that address, to keep your main account snowy pure and spam-free.

        I, for example, do not use the address as my main account. But, like most users who post an address, I get a kick from back channel mail from the same smart users I enjoy chatting with (though I'm incredibly behind on answering some of it). More than a few users have been offered, via email, care packages of things they'd publicly hankered for.

        Also, an email address allows us Big Dogs to get in touch with you in the event of technical problems with messages.


        1. Hi,

          I think we have confusion. Are we talking about Sunday 26 August or Sunday 2 September or sometime beyond that?

          2 Replies
          1. re: lee

            Some in the other thread have expressed a preference for Sept 2. Can we say that this is the tentative planned date, or are there any major objections?

            1. re: Seth Zurer

              This is a good date for me, possibly plus 1.