Wedding-worthy Chinese in Northern Virginia?
My sister is planning a wedding, and I'm looking for a Chinese restaurant where we can hold the reception. Hoping for Chinese food good enough to please the parents, with a nice ambiance (sunlight, a nice view would be pluses) for my sister and her guests.
I have been meaning to respond to this post for a while now, but every time I start, I get pulled away.
My husband and I had a Chinese wedding banquet at China Garden and had a great experience. Connie, the manager, was outstanding and answered all our questions. We chose this location primarily due to location location location! Our ceremony was held in Dupont Circle, so we wanted a place that was easy to find. There is also a Hyatt right across the street that has outstanding blocked room prices! (And don't forget it's right by the metro.)
China Garden has had A LOT of experience with weddings, so if you want to do something, they have done it before and can help coordinate it and make it work! We brought our own alcohol the day before and they chilled it and were very gracious to our guests! Everyone was taken care of.
One of my favorite special touches that they did was make a HUGE red and gold banner of our Chinese names together in front of the restaurant. (My husband is Hispanic so they translated his last name.) It was really special! They helped with the tea ceremony and set up the chairs and knee cushions too. (Yes, they provide knee cushions!)
The food was really good for this area. I was really impressed with the presentation. The restaurant is really nice and there is a minimum of 150 ppl for the main room. I wish I could say more on the food, but my husband and I didn't have much opportunity to eat much on our wedding day. What we did eat, was really tasty! I heard from the guests that the food was really good. I do have pictures of all the dishes, and they look GREAT.
As for the price, you have to know what you want. Since my parents are food fanatics, I brought them in for negotiations. There is ALWAYS room for negotiations. We tailored our menu at $450 a table. (We seated 10-12 people per table depending on if there were children.) That doesn't include tip or tax. We were more than happy to pay 20% tip due to the great service that was provided.
I highly recommend them because of their eagerness to please, and the outstanding food. My parents really enjoyed themselves (and they are typical picky Chinese parents). I'm sure that your parents and parents' friends will also enjoy the very festive environment. It was non-stop food and fun. Good luck with your sister's wedding planning!
Here's what was on the menu:
Stuffed Crab Claws
Five Luck Cold Platter
Dragon and Phoenix Shark's Fin Soup
Sliced Abalone with Chinese Mushrooms
Golden Roast Chicken "Cantonese" Style
Baked Lobster with Ginger and Scallions
Crispy Duck with PAte la Taro
Saute Fillet of Flounder with Vegetables
Young Chow Fried Rice
Red Bean Drink
This can probably be done by any restaurant in this area, as they all do catering, but it depends moreso on what type of food you want. If you just want something as simple as fried rice, pork lo mein, general tso's chicken, sweet and sour pork, dim sum, maybe even stir fried lobster, etc., on chafing dishes and sternos for a buffet line, then it should work.
If you want more high end options with presentation in mind, then the food will need to be cooked on the spot. I doubt if a restaurant will send their kitchen and serving staff to a mansion to fire up the grub, nevermind whether or not the mansion itself has the facilities up to snuff to what a chinese kitchen usually has set up.
This area is not like NYC. I actually went to a wedding where a restaurant in a nice hotel was a full fledged chinese restaurant offering top shelf stuff. Around here, not that I know of.
In the "hotel" vein, you might try the Mandarin Oriental. If any hotel could do it they could. Of course, if you are trying to keep the budget in check, this is not the way to go about it.
Here is a link to their special occasions page
Click on the downloadable dinner menu to get 14 pages of sample menus. None are specific to a Chinese wedding, but you'll get the idea. The Thai menu looks interesting.
Are you new to this area? If not, which restaurants have you tried yourself? None of the restaurants in this area have anything with regard to "ambiance, sunlight, a nice view,) etc.
In NoVA, the top three for banquets are China Garden, Fortune, and Lucky 3, not necessarily in that order. In Maryland, the largest is New Fortune, but this restaurant may swallow you up if your wedding party is not that big. I've thrown major parties in Wheaton, specifically at China Chef and Good Fortune. They did a pretty good job, with CC offering larger dishes and Good Fortune being really professional. Nothing else in that area is worth considering.
Also, keep in mind your budget. If you want top shelf ingredients, it will cost you about $650/table of 10 not including liquor or tip. If you want bottom shelf stuff, it will cost you about $300. You'll need to plan about 6 months in advance notice if you want a specific day, as most wedding parties will zero in on a chinese "lucky day."
The usual suspects which typically are mentioned relative to Chinese wedding banquets are China Garden in Roslyn (seemingly the 800 lb. gorilla of the genre), Fortune on Rt. 50 near Seven Corners, and to a lesser extent Lucky Three on Rt 7 between Seven Corners and Bailey's Xroads. I would say there may well be "better" Chinese restaurants than these, but these, especially the first two, are known as banquet venues. I can't comment on the views--I doubt you'll get much sunlight in any of them, tho China Garden is on the mezzanine level.
If you have a smaller group (don't need a huge space), and/or are willing to include Maryland in your criteria, there are other possibilities.
I agree--New Fortune is the most obvious choice in Maryland, certainly for a large group. It is also easy to get to via I-270/370. BTW the family that owns it also owns Lucky 3, but NF is clearly the flagship. Another good choice in MD would be Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard in Wheaton. Smaller, but excellent food.
A lot depends on how large your party is, as well as how your guests feel about having upscale surroundings. Smaller and less fancy would open more food possibilities.