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Chinese-ish bride going mad seeking moderately priced Chinese banquet in SF for reception.

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So I live in Brooklyn (am an East Bay dweller originally) and am getting married in SF. We want a traditional Chinese banquet reception for a small wedding of about 60 folks.

I am very, very picky about food, not so picky about decor (we can handle that). But I can't pay Tommy Toy or Harbor Village or Yank Sing prices.

Our tentative solution is upstairs at Ton Kiang, which isn't lavishly decorated, but looks clean.

My Chinese mother believes that this is a travesty. She is pushing Far East Cafe or Golden Mountain on me. I haven't heard of either one. I tried to talk to Koi Palace in Daly City, but they were mean and dismissive, so I banned them.

Any seasoned Chowhounds want to lend a batty bride a hand?

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  1. How about New Aisa on Pacific Ave. The food is decent to good for large gorups. The have a upstairs which is very good for a party of sixty plus. Food is better than Gold Mountain.

    We have our mass extended family New Years dinner there and they did a very good job for 700.

    Also Golden Dragon, Empress of China (higher in price) and South Sea in the Sunset.

    Hope this helps. Just as a side note. We had our banquet at New Aisa more years ago then I like to remember and the cost for table was less two hundred per table. Now I shake when I see my sons with their girlfriends thinking for their banquets

    12 Replies
    1. re: yimster

      I hadn't even heard of that, but after Googling it, I think it sounds worth looking into. I will send my gastronomic spies (hungry food-obsessed SF sisters) to report. Thanks!

      1. re: yimster

        I was having the price discussion w/my sister in law about two weeks ago. We were married in 1991 and paid $168/table, and I thought THAT was expensive. I'm hearing $400-$500/table nowadays (although they aren't all like that!).

        My other SIL had her banquet at Four Seas, and they were very accommodating. I thought the food was pretty good.

        1. re: boltnut55

          We were married even early so I think we paid less than you all. But my Dad was real old school I never saw the bill. But I think he save a long time for us. But prices are much higher now.

          I have help some family member recently and all the tables for a wedding were over $250.00 and I must say I think I am good at discussing pricing.

          1. re: yimster

            For the benefit of those reading along, it's traditional for the groom's family to pay wedding expenses. Yimster was blessed with sons. (g)

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Although it is traditional for the groom's side to pay for the wedding banquest, we waived that in my case since I married a non-Chinese ;-) I don't think his side of the family would have quite understood that wedding custom, especially as the guest list was going to be divided on the order of 80 of my relatives, 50 of my parents' friends, 60 of our friends, and, uh, 10 of my groom's relatives (including his parents). Luckily, my parents were very generous and picked up the tab!

              1. re: No.19

                You're not alone - I don't know of any non-Chinese groom's family that has picked up the whole wedding tab. Sometimes they split the cost based on the guest list. Then there's the more recent rule of modern times - if the bride and groom are over the age of 30, they pay their own wedding expenses (subsidized by parents to the extent they volunteer).

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  When my cousins have gotten married, the two sets of parents usually split the cost.

                  Both my husband and I are well over the age of 30 (hah!), and we paid for everything _except_ the wedding banquet.

                  1. re: No.19

                    Hehe, I'd have to plan on paying for my wedding too. Although there may not be enough 000's to describe what my parents might shell out for someone to take me off their hands. (vbg)

          2. re: boltnut55

            All this discussion brings back wonderful memories. We had our party at Joe Jung's. It was that place on the corner of Clay & Stockton. My parents paid for the wedding and hubby paid for the banquet. Gosh, this really dates us. All our friends were getting married then and the favorite places were Four Seas and Far East. I won't tell you how much gas was then and if people had cars yet. ;0) Margret

            1. re: Margret

              I will tell you how about much gas was because my new wife would empty her car and then take mine so she would not have to fill up. She hated to smell like gas. It was less then a buck for leaded super.

              We may have something is common old age. :>)))

              1. re: yimster

                We may have something is common old age. :>)))

                Not as long as your appetites remain as good as they seem and you can remember the price of gas "back then"!

            2. re: boltnut55

              $168 a table? You can't even get a family dinner for that.

          3. How about Legendary Palace in Oakland?

            Koi Palace is one of the most expensive ones, and their service does have problems.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Peter

              I just checked their website. Gorgeous place! A little out of my price range, though. But wow, I'd like to stop by there for lunch one of these days. The regular menu sounds drool-worthy.

            2. You might want to check South Sea Seafood Village, which seems to be a popular choice for moderately priced banquets.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                i might add that the decor is already banquet-ish. i always feel like i'm eating at someone's reception when i'm there.

                i also think the food quality is excellent -- my mother was impressed (and that's not easy!)

                unfortunately, i don't know about banquet pricing. they also have an upstairs area that looks perfect for a private party (although 60 may be tight)

                1. re: vespaloon

                  The mezzanine at SSSV will seat up to 60 people.

                  I haven't had dinner there yet - let's do that some time.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    sounds like a plan! :)

              2. It's not in San Francisco, but I had my Chinese wedding banquet at Legendary Palace in Oakland Chinatown. No one complained about the food (at least that I heard!) so the restaurant at least passed the "relatives must approve" test.

                If I had the banquet in SF, my mom was pushing Far East. We did just have a red egg & ginger party there, and the food was decent. Upstairs included a dance floor and a stage, if that's important to you.

                3 Replies
                1. re: No.19

                  Forgot to mention that I had about 200 guests, and the room is about right for that. Since you have only 60 guests (how'd you get away with that?!?), then the smaller side room upstairs would work.

                  The upstairs room at Far East is pretty big, and we had about 200 people there for the red egg & ginger party so it might not feel intimate enough.

                  1. re: No.19

                    Thanks, No. 19. Far East sounds a bit too large for my wedding. I'll take a look at Oakland, for sure. When I grew up, we spent every other weekend in Oakland Chinatown, so that's more like home anyway.

                    How did I manage such a small wedding? Many, many extraordinarily loud and passionate telephone battles with my mother. :)

                    1. re: BrooklynTBone

                      Forgot to mention that we went to my second cousin's wedding banquet at Peony, which is also in Oakland Chinatown. First problem was that they tried to circumvent the fire code by cramming in way too many tables (which wouldn't be an issue for your party). But the bigger (more Chinese!) complaint is that the food wasn't that good. The appetizer plate was excellent, and we were all looking forward to the rest of the meal -- but, alas, it was disappointing.

                      >> How did I manage such a small wedding? Many, many extraordinarily loud and passionate telephone battles with my mother. :) <<

                      Wow, I can't even imagine such a small wedding guest list :-) Congrats! OTOH, I didn't mind having everyone there so it all worked out for me.

                2. I would give Empress of China a shot...they will try to work something out with you..Lot depends on date and day of week. When I have had budget limits on dinner, you can avoid the pricey stuff (bird nest, shark fin, etc). Empress is nice ambiance and easy parking in Ports. Square.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Jim H.

                    I thought the food at Empress wasn't up to snuff? My sister had her reception there ages ago and, while the view was fantastic, the food was only so-so. Has this changed?

                    1. re: BrooklynTBone

                      The food is the same. The view, setting and temperature of the food are some of the high points of the menu. Since you have six tables that you can spend more time looking at the food.

                      1. re: BrooklynTBone

                        I went to a wedding at Empress and I really disliked the food...maybe it was just a fluke that time but I would not hold my wedding there. Granted, the wedding guest was 500+ so that might have something to do with the food that night.

                    2. I've had good banquets at Mayflower Restaurant in SF, but don't know how they are doing lately.

                      I wouldn't give up on Koi Palace. I don't think they are really that expensive. The banquets start at $266 per table, and you have to figure you'll get a "red envelope" minimum of $100 per couple, so it's not like it's costing you. Of course, if you were counting on netting a down payment on a house in San Francisco....

                      "Golden Mountain" would be "Gold Mountain", in case you want to Google them up. Good food, and probably not expensive.

                      I lament the loss of North Sea Village in Sausalito for banquets, though.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        My friend called Koi Palace and was told wedding banquet starts at $400 and the food selection was not even all that great. Ditto with Yank Sing, they simply said no parties with 60 or less.

                      2. I think Ton Kiang would be a really good choice. I like the food better than Gold Mountain. Lichee Garden or Oriental Pearl could be good, too.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Peony

                          I second Ton Kiang as my family as held several weddings here and the food was decent even with 200+ people.

                          My brother had his wedding at Canton...it was decent also.

                        2. With 60 guests, you are talking about 6 tables. If you have your wedding banquent in a large restaurant like Gold Mountain or New Asia, I fear that you might feel like the step child when most of the other spaces in the restaurant are taken up by bigger banquets, eg, 30 tables, 60 tables, etc. This can happen especially if you have your party on a weekend night. I went to a birthday party many years ago at New Asia and I had to pass all the greeters at the door, who were welcoming the great hoards of friends & family to the big party downstairs and we were relegated to a tiny section upstairs. I think a cozier, not necessarily fancy, restaurants will make for a more intimate gathering. My nephew had his engagement party in the side room at Hong Kong Pavilion in Millbrae, old HK Flower Lounge, recently. That room fits around six tables and the food is pretty good. I think the recommendations for South Sea Seafood Village and May Flower on Geary sound promising too. Good luck with your wedding. Margret

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Margret

                            You make a really good point about the possibility of feeling shut out by a bigger group in a large venue. Nothing is more miserable than listening to another party's speeches and bad jokes over the mike all evening or getting cold food when the servers make the other group the priority.

                            In Millbrae, HK Pavilion's side room is nice for that, and one can be the big fish in a small pond and the center of the kitchen's attention. Seafood Harbor's side rooms will seat up to 80. Fook Yuen has an upstairs room for banquets that will seat on the order of 150. Even when empty, it felt kinda dark and closed in to me, but it might suit a group of 60 and have room for a DJ and dancing too.

                            In San Francisco, the downstairs at Great Eastern or the upstairs area at R&G Lounge can seat more than 60, however, a party of that size will fill most of the room, I think. And, what about the back dining area at Parc Hong Kong?

                            Fwiw, I haven't heard any positive comments about the food at Far East for more than a decade. Would be interested in any recent 'hound experiences.

                            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              I haven't been to most of the large Chinatown banquet places for a long while too. Unless interesting changes have happened to these places, I can't imagine the food to be exciting, or worse, even above par. I think Gold Mountain and New Asia might still be ok, 4 seas or Far East are risky. But I stand to be corrected since I haven't been there for quite a long time. Margret

                              1. re: Margret

                                We had a chowdown dinner at Gold Mountain last year to use the free duck coupon. The dinner was good enough, but Great Eastern and R&G Lounge (don't know how it is after the recent chef change) are better but a little higher in cost, I think.

                                Here's a link to Nathan Lee's post on his wedding banquet at Gold Mountain.

                                Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  R&G Lounge sounds very interesting...I wish the website had better pictures, dang it!

                                  1. re: BrooklynTBone

                                    We've got lots of pictures of the food . . . not too many of the room! I had mentioned the upstairs area - be aware there's no elevator, if access is an issue. Last night I called ahead to make sure we could get a table on the ground floor level, behind the bar and hostess station, to bring in a wheelchair. You'll want to talk to Angel to make your arrangements - she's taken good care of me over th e years. Also, the number 1 and number 2 chefs left recently and the jury's still out on how the food is holding up.

                                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                    1. re: BrooklynTBone

                                      R&G lounge only has one set of wedding banquet menu and if you choose the 6PM sitting is $800 and 8PM sitting is $400. Exactly the same menu.

                              2. re: Margret

                                This was a major concern of mine. I am definitely looking for a private room in a not-too-huge place, because I don't want my wedding party to feel neglected (b/c the staff is busy serving another banquet) or swamped. So I'm seeing that people think Ton Kiang is a good idea, and R&G Lounge sounds promising. South Sea Seafood Village sounds interesting, but I think we want to keep everyone in SF, since a lot of people are flying in who won't be entirely sure how to get around and might be taking cabs everywhere.

                                1. re: BrooklynTBone
                                  Caitlin McGrath

                                  South Sea Seafood Village is in SF.

                                  South Sea Seafood Village
                                  1420 Irving St
                                  San Francisco

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    Yeah, I think people confuse it with Seafood Harbor in Millbrae and Saigon Seafood Harbor in Richmond.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Neither of which are in business anymore.

                                  2. re: BrooklynTBone

                                    Will your guests be flying in and staying in hotels in SF? Downtown? Will they be staying in a single hotel? If so, you might want to pick your restaurant that is closer to the designated hotel; ie, if downtown, then Chinatown would be closer. If you haven't chosen your hotel yet, then perhaps you can pick the restaurant first and then the hotel. The Millbrae locations for HK Pavilion, Seafood Harbour, etc are very close to the SF airport. If your guests are going to stay near the airport, then the Millbrae restaurants make a lot of sense. Both Ton Kiang and South Sea are in residential neighborhoods in SF and your guests will have to take a cab to them. Margret

                                2. Hey anyone been to R&G Lounge lately? That might work for you too. Last time I was there we ate in the private dining room next door to the main restaurant, and the food was excellent? Haven't been there in a while, so might need to get updates from a few other ch's.

                                  1. The answer to your question is all dependent on the ethnicity of the groom.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: R.W.

                                      Why's that? (The groom is mixed Irish/English/Danish/German.)

                                      1. re: BrooklynTBone

                                        Some people claim that if you are Chinese the liklihood of getting seated upstairs is much better. I am Chinese and about 80% of the time we get seated downstairs. There goes that theory.

                                    2. After having had a wonderful time reading each and every entry (I was originally searching the site to find out what people were saying about The Legendary Palace in Oakland - which I think is fabulishis) if anyone answers, I'd like to know where the wedding was held; how was the food; were you pleased with your choice; and, finally - how's everything going now in 2007 :))) ?

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: DrBehavior

                                        Yes, I'd like to know too!

                                        BTW, I saw one of the above recommendations, Parc Hong Kong on Geary Blvd, is now closed. I was driving and couldn't read the sign on the door, but it has not been open for awhile.

                                        1. re: baron45

                                          If you plug the original poster's name into the search window, you find the wedding reception post right away.


                                          1. re: jeannechang

                                            Did this woman say her mother was Chinese? She sure had the Jewish guilt down cold. A great story in the reception post...

                                          2. re: baron45

                                            Parc HK has gone way downhill, even if it's not closed already.

                                        2. I had my wedding reception at South Sea Seafood Village 3 years ago and it was wonderful - they will reserve either the top level only, or bottom level only, or whole restaurant. The reservations are based on price minimums (i.e. spend $X minimum to reserve top, bottom, or whole restaurant) We reserved the bottom only for our 120-person wedding and it was just perfect - I guess there were other diners who ate upstairs but we honestly didn't notice them at all.

                                          SSSV is already beautifully decorated red and gold with the giant double happiness character on the stage, so you really don't need to do any venue setup unless you feel the need to use centerpieces. They were very flexible on crafting the right banquet to meet tradition and price tradeoffs, as well as creating separate 5-course dinners for our half-dozen or so vegetarian guests! They charged $5/table for unlimited corkage (may have gone up since then) and were OK with us bringing in any type of alcohol.

                                          Most importantly, it met the approval of all the Chinese relatives. :)

                                          1. First of all you need to decide on the type of menu you want (and your mother also). I have relatives who still to this day talk about the time several years ago when one of my nieces' banquet did not have shark fin (she does not eat shark fin for conservation reasons). So does your mother want shark fin or not? The price can vary a lot based on the menu. And the enthusiasm of the restaurant to reserve 6 tables for you for the whole evening also depends on how much you are willing to spend.

                                            BTW, said niece had her banquet at East Ocean in Emeryville. Great view, OK food. Free parking.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: PeterL

                                              FWIW, the bride got married three years ago and posted about her banquet here.

                                              1. re: PeterL

                                                I went to a wedding banquet at East Ocean, which is right on the Bay (definitely great view) and easy to get to from SF by car. The food was decent.

                                              2. When we got married 3 years ago, we had our reception at Gold Mountain (their ground floor because our party was smaller than the other parties that held theirs upstairs. I think we had 150 guests). Since your party is small, they may dump you in the back on the ground floor. Not a nice setting. Food is excellent there.

                                                Have you tried House of Banquet (they are on Clement)? Lots of gold lame.

                                                You can also try Grand Palace in S. SF: http://www.grandpalaceseafoodrestaura...

                                                They have an upstairs dining room that can fit your party

                                                Hung To (S SF): http://www.hungtoseafood.com/

                                                South Seafood Village: http://www.southseaseafoodvillage.com/ (Sunset District


                                                R&G has raised their prices after their remodel. Food also shrank to small plate portions.

                                                1. How come no one has tried the Legendary Palace in Oakland? I'm not Chinese, but, if it helps to qualify - I love Chinese food, Chinese people, and Chinese Olympics. I just can't understand why no one talks about the place when the food is sooo awesome and the room upstairs is nicely decorated and the owners are very, very hospitable. Every time my wife and I have been there we've been amongst the very few Caucasians in the crowded room.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      It appears to me that these reviews, albeit quite thorough - perhaps a bit unrealistic for the average restaurant-goer - are ancient by food critique standards, don't you think? I believe that they deserve another write-up given just the sheer numbers of new people that join the Blog.
                                                      I do; however, appreciate your posting the links for me.
                                                      On a final note, I can't believe how busy you are and how much time you must devote to the site. They're very fortunate to have someone like you.

                                                  1. Sounds like Gold Mountain is being taken care of in the "known" department (I've also been there). I'd probably try out the recommendations that are the alternative to it.

                                                    I had my banquet in San Jose at Dynasty. Our tables were around $500 per table and we got *several* compliments about the food. The price can go up or down per table, but that price range had what we wanted. We were both over 30, but my parents contributed toward the price (I reminded them about completely for my younger sib's wedding two years ago).

                                                    And wow! That is a small banquet! I was also fighting with my Chinese Mom about the open-ended guest list because all the "last minute additions" were driving me insane with confirming the reservations with the restaurant.

                                                    Best bet is to develop a relationship with the restaurant you are interested in. I'd eaten several times with Dynasty before and even planned a mini-banquet (20 people) there so they were familiar with me by the time I was making wedding banquet plans.

                                                    1. I've been searching for a restaurant for my wedding as well. I was looking for something with good food and at least a decent decor. My family is from the area and we eat out every weekend. I wanted someplace nicer than the usual places we frequent (Peony's, Legendary Palace, etc). I originally considered Yank Sing, Koi Palace and HK Flower Lounge.

                                                      I've never been to Yank Sing. I made an appointment with their event coordinator to visit. I was not impressed by the place. The atrium seemed too large for only 20-25 tables. The restaurant itself was nice, but it didn't seem like it was worth the price. They try to bill themselves as "fancy" and "elegant", but I feel the decor of the restaurant is more home-style. I also didn't like Joy, the event coordinator. She was not very professional and tried to change our appointment that we made several weeks in advance the day before it was scheduled.

                                                      I love the food at Koi Palace, but I decided that I didn't like the decor of Koi Palace. The placement of the tables didn't seem suitable for our needs. If you have a large party, you end up having several small rooms combined. I wanted one big room. The pillars in the room also blocks some tables views for any presentations. They also have really ugly carpeting.

                                                      HK Flower Lounge seemed nice. But after going over our guestlist, it turns out we might need a room big enough for 250. The max for the upstairs was only 220, and that was pushing it. We also heard rumors that their will be a management change, and we didn't want to have to worry about that.

                                                      We ended up putting a deposit down at ABC in Foster City. They don't have much info on their website. However, when we stopped by one day to inquire, they had a very professional folder with all the relevant info provided to us. We liked that the room can hold 250 (although 230 will be less crowded). The decor was very simple and nice. No weird paintings or ugly carpets. They also have several LCDs mounted on the walls for presentation. Even better is the fact that the food there is pretty tasty. Their corkage fee is only $15/TABLE. It might not look very impressive on the outside (it's a strip mall), but there's plenty of parking and the inside looks great.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: elainew

                                                        I need to look for a place that can seat about 300 for my daughter's wedding next fall too. We went to our friend's daughter wedding banquet just this past Saturday at Zen Peninsula in Millbrae. The wedding hall is big and great for wedding and they have pretty good food and services. But the price is $$$$$$ based on the menu we pick up. I told my daughter about Zen. She check their web site and called for banquet information but September 2008 is already fully booked. Now that I know of your choice of ABC, we will go check the place out this weekend. Please keep these wedding banquet tips coming.

                                                        1. re: Mrs_lin

                                                          I also looked at Zen. They have a great website and had potential. However, my parents had dinner there before and said their food was only so-so. We drove to take a look at the place one Sat evening. The restaurant has a wedding there that night and we couldn't find parking so we couldn't check out the inside of the restaurant. I wouldn't want to hold my reception at a place where my guests would have trouble finding a parking spot... so I crossed Zen Peninsula off the list.

                                                          You can check out HK East Ocean and see how much it would be for the entire main dining room. I went to a wedding there once for 200ppl and they tried to section off a portion of the dining room. The tables ended up being very crowded and many had a blocked view of the head table. If you consider them, make sure you discuss the floor plan with them ahead of time. I think their main room can fit 500pp.

                                                          1. re: elainew

                                                            Yeah, I didn't like Zen Peninsula either. Couldn't figure out why people were lining up out the door. Every dish had a similar flavor.

                                                          2. re: Mrs_lin

                                                            Did you try Grand Palace on SSF (http://www.grandpalaceseafoodrestaura...).

                                                            The place is pretty nice and big. There's plenty of parking in SSF after 6!

                                                            Also, there's South Seafood Village on Irving Street (http://www.southseaseafoodvillage.com/). Parking is more of a hassle there.

                                                            We had our wedding banquet at Gold Mountain. Food was excellent.