Chinese for dinner in Flushing
But what kind of Chinese food? There's the best Sichuan I ever tasted (Spicy & Tasty), northern Chinese lamb (A Fan Ti), Manchurian (Emerald Island), "Mongolian" hot pot (Happy Family), lots of Shanghainese, Fujianese, Perinakan (Malayan) etc But these places are fairly small, you might want to go with a big Cantonese/HK banquet palace like Ocean Jewels. I tried that once and was slightly disappointed but I have the feeling I barely scratched the surface of a 12 page menu with small print. Also there are places that offer several different styles, like Chen & Chan, which I used to go to for some excellent Shanghai-style yellowfish (or maybe it was American croaker) until they shortened their menu and hiked prices. Obviously you should visit the restaurant beforehand and also make a reservation.
re: Brian S
Mmmm . . . this is a very heterogeneous bunch, ages 2 to 90, and including both chowhounds and whatever the opposite of a chowhound is. Let's say Shanghainese, Cantonese, or mixed-style. Unfortunately, I will only be in NY for the weekend of the dinner, so will not have a chance to visit beforehand. We will certainly make a reservation if possible. Anyway, the choice of place largely depends on what you all say -- no pressure!
re: Sirina Tsai
I think you should phone the restaurants, explain what you want, go over the menu, possible set dinner/banquet options. Get someone who speaks fluent Chinese (Cantonese for Cantonese restaurants, Mandarin for others) to make the call. They should be very helpful, both because the idea of an age-diverse family group will appeal to them and because the prospect of suo much business will appeal too. (If they are not helpful, phone another place.) Here are three Cantonese banquet halls that might work. I'd try Ocean Jewels first, but don't know any of these places that well.
Gum Fung 718-762-8821
East Lake 718-539-8532
Ocean Jewels 718-359-8600
Well dim sum is seldom served at night (restaurants that serve dim sum in the daytime usually are Hong Kong style seafood restaurants at night), so that's not an issue. Ocean Jewels would be a safe choice, but most any place that can handle 30 people will probably be extremely busy on a Saturday night. Of course that's probably a large enough group to score a reservation, too, even if the restaurant doesn't take reservations for smaller groups.
Say, what did you think of Ocean Jewels? As I said, I got the feeling that I barely sampled its vast potential. And Mrs Tsai, please if you have time give us a report of your dinner. You will have the chance to sample 30 different dishes! Whatever place you choose will probably have elaborate banquet menus for large groups if you consult with them in advance. This might be a good option.
re: Brian S
Ocean Jewels falls in the very broad category of what I refer to as good average Hong Kong style food, i.e., pretty good on an absolute scale, but not distinguished either to differentiate it from the rest of the pack. There are lots of places falling into that category out here in Los Angeles, and particularly the San Gabriel valley. I've only eaten at Ocean Jewels three times, not enough times to truly compare it to the places that I usually eat at, but enough to be able to recommend it.
In a previous post, Brian S recommended the Cantonese East Lake restaurant, on the corner of Main St. and Franklin Ave in Flushing, for your Chinese dinner, and we just happened to have gone to a luncheon there earlier this month (we had two tables). The luncheon consisted of one of their standard banquet menus and we were very satisfied with the food (we were not involved with setting up the luncheon, but we would guess that this luncheon cost over $450 per table not including tax and tip). There were some issues with the service, but par for the course for Chinese restaurants. East Lake has their own valet parking in front of the restaurant and for your party of 30, if you order a set banquet menu, you would probably be given a private room in the back of the restaurant as we were also. Although with such a very large party, East Lake may give you a private room even if you were to order ala carte off the standard menu. With such a large party, we would recommend that you make a reservation.
The banquet we ordered had 9 main dishes and the standard noodles, fried rice, and desert that comes with typical banquets for a total of 12 dishes.
Appended below are pictures of the luncheon (same order as they were served) and a short description of the dishes in the same order as the pictures:
a. Shrimp Salad (Cantaloupe and Honey Dew on top of the shrimp)
b. Couch and Squid
c. Scallop in Brown Sauce
d. Sharks Fin (there was not very much Sharks Fin)
e. Jelly Fish and Assorted Cold Items
f. Abalone and Sea Cucumber
i. Steamed Fish (baby striped Bass)
j. Fried Rice
k. Noodles with Lobster and Scallops (this dish could almost be considered another main dish since the typical noodle dish in a banquet menu would not have lobster meat or dried scallops, which are expensive ingredients)
l. Fresh Fruit and Cookies (the round white objects are canned Lychees)
Another restaurant that is a possibility is the huge Cantonese Gala Manor restaurant (37-02 Main Street) on the second floor across the street from the Hong Kong supermarket on Main Street. We had dinner there last month in January and the special soup we had (duck, pork bones, dried scallops, black mushrooms) was quite rich in flavor (one basically only drank the broth, although the ingredients were ladled out into a bowl for eating if desired) and the marinated squab dish that we had was also very good (much better than the squab dish we had at East Lake; according to rumors, the Gala Manor restaurant is run by the same owners as East Lake).
Good luck in choosing a restaurant. Our experience in eating at Chinese restaurants is that you have to have good karma, since some days the cooks are off and sometimes they are on. Plus, Chinese cooks are notorious for being there one day and gone the next, where they are basically shifting around to all the different Chinese restaurants in the metro area. In addition, many Chinese restaurant managers and owners, like the ocean tides, increase and decrease the freshness and quality of the ingredients and the quantity of the dishes depending on their profits. When business goes down, they will increase the quality and quantity of their dishes and after the business becomes very good, the opposite occurs. This is done slowly of course. Sometimes a restaurant will go too far in reducing the quality and quantity of the dishes and cannot pull out of the dive even after raising the quality and quantity of their food and subsequently go bankrupt.