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The best Chinese banquet in SGV?

d
Diana Oct 4, 2007 02:11 PM

Which one tops them all for flavor and value? Is there a website?

  1. j
    Jerome Oct 5, 2007 03:38 PM

    Be sure and ask when ordering a banquet if they will do carved fruits and vegetables, if they have a cold plate that is attractively laid out - a dragon and phoenix, a peacock, etc. make sure they understand that you want a banquet with carved garnishes and proper plating.
    At banquets - not every course will be plated. But every dish should have a carved garnish and a special presentation (only man-han banquets in china used to be individually plated - western influence long before 1949 made some restos go for individual plating esp in port and trade cities like Hankou/wuhan, shanghai etc.).

    If they have photographs available, ask to see them.

    1. raytamsgv Oct 5, 2007 03:14 PM

      There is no difference between a banquet and a family meal except for the red envelopes they give to you. :-) The fixed menu choices are for recommendation purposes only. It makes no difference to them if you order from a fixed menu or 10 items from their regular menu.

      I personally prefer Elite or Empress Harbor for dinner. We recently had an 11 course meal at Elite for about $220 per table of 10. And we had enough leftovers to last a week. We reserved three tables and ordered in advance so we wouldn't need to wait around. You could probably just show up at the restaurant and order, too. However, some restaurants (e.g. Empress Harbor) tend to have wedding banquets on the weekends, so you should make a reservation. Ordering in advance is also good--you won't need to worry about choosing or the price when you get there.

      Elite doesn't usually have wedding banquets because it is too small.

      2 Replies
      1. re: raytamsgv
        ipsedixit Oct 5, 2007 03:34 PM

        "Elite doesn't usually have wedding banquets because it is too small."
        _________________________________________________________

        Funny you should say that. I was there a couple of weeks back for a wedding set menu, er, ahem, I mean, banquet. The whole place was reserved.

        1. re: ipsedixit
          raytamsgv Oct 5, 2007 03:54 PM

          That's the other option--reserving the whole place. But they don't have the dragon/phoenix carvings on the wall, so it looks a little funny for wedding banquets, IMHO.

          My parents' generation could not conceive of a wedding banquet having anything less than 30 tables. Thus, it would be far to small. :-)

      2. n
        nickorp Oct 4, 2007 03:46 PM

        Last month, I went to a wedding banquet over at the Hilton in SG. I thought the service was excellent, which was a surprise to me considering it was a chinese banquet, and the food was great also. The atmosphere is definitely nicer than your average "seafood" restaurant that does banquets. Alas, I was a guest so I don't know what the damage was.

        I'm not sure what their minimum table count for a small private gathering though.

        Other places that are ok:
        Top Island
        -located next to Big 5 in Alhambra. good food, packed place when I went on Sunday before Mid-Autumn Festival for family banquet dinner.

        Seafood Harbor - it used to be real good. but now it's so-so.
        Mission 261 - food is alright
        NBC - good value for your money. They've been improving the last few years.

        1. wilafur Oct 4, 2007 03:41 PM

          i've had great seafood banquets (@12 courses) at both 888 and mpv seafood.

          1. Pei Oct 4, 2007 03:10 PM

            Sea Harbor for food, "value" is relative.

            888 is also in the running for me.

            Both have private rooms, relatively nice china, professional service, high end ingredients, and menus from $300-1000/table plus the option to upgrade particular dishes.

            1. ipsedixit Oct 4, 2007 02:26 PM

              No websites.

              Tell me what you are looking for.

              Price range?

              Type of food?

              Ambiance?

              Number of people (e.g. do you want private room, reserve whole restaurant)?

              Open bar?

              20 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit
                m
                MaryT Oct 4, 2007 03:00 PM

                Do you mean a buffet? Or do you mean a pre-ordered spread of some type. Not sure what you're getting after.

                1. re: MaryT
                  d
                  Diana Oct 4, 2007 07:41 PM

                  I meant banquet. Many big chinese places inSGV have group banquet menus of pre set items served family style and made very, very fancily.

                2. re: ipsedixit
                  d
                  Diana Oct 4, 2007 07:44 PM

                  8-10 people, not open bar, $20 to $30 per person, seafood and meat dishes, a few dumplings or hot pots, rice, noodles, anything goes except stuff too out of the norm (I love the real good feet and ear and tongue, but maybe my sister or her Grandmother in law or Husband would not agree), szechwan, hunan, whatever, really.

                  Not shabby,, but we don't need fish served with spoons-like 888 would be fine

                  1. re: Diana
                    ipsedixit Oct 4, 2007 08:27 PM

                    Ocean Star or NBC would suit your needs.

                    Opt for a 250/table menu. They're not going to have dumplings -- these are Cantonese/HK style places, after all -- but you can have just about everything on your wish list. You may want to tweak the cold appetizer platter that generally comes with the set menus and ask to take out the more "out of the norm" things like jellyfish and what not. They can easily do a cold platter with beef shank, chicken, etc.

                    A typical menu in the 200-300 range -- they'll be priced most likely as 188/table or 288/table because the Chinese are quite numerogically superstitious and 8 is a lucky number -- will look something like this:

                    1. Cold appetizer platter
                    2. Soup of some sort
                    3. Vegetable dish
                    4. Tofu dish maybe paired with mushrooms
                    5. Chicken dish
                    6. Fish (most likely filets, as opposed to whole fresh steamed fish)
                    7. Some sort of crustacean (probably a stir-fried shrimp given the budget)
                    8. Beef dish
                    9. Rice or noodle dish
                    10. Dessert

                    Enjoy.

                    1. re: Diana
                      PeterL Oct 4, 2007 08:46 PM

                      That's not a banquet. That's just a normal family dinner.

                      1. re: PeterL
                        hrhboo Oct 4, 2007 09:04 PM

                        I concur. In that case, it would be better to make a reservation and order family-style off the menu.

                        1. re: PeterL
                          v
                          Velvet Elvis Oct 4, 2007 09:19 PM

                          It sounds like a pretty accurate description of the banquets I have been to at Ocean Star and 888. Is there some other kind of banquet that happens at these restaurants?

                          1. re: Velvet Elvis
                            Pei Oct 4, 2007 09:48 PM

                            Yes. If you do a more formal (read: expensive) banquet you will of course get more exotic dishes, but you'll also experience a higher level of service.

                            Food is presented, then plated and served. A soup, for example, might be presented in a large carved melon before being doled out. Seafood would be presented alive for the host's approval, then brought to the table after cooking for presentation (oooh, aah, look at the whole cooked lobster), and taken away and plated. Food isn't just brought to the center of the table and left there for everyone to dig in like at a family dinner.

                            1. re: Pei
                              hrhboo Oct 4, 2007 10:09 PM

                              As Pei mentioned, those are the more expensive banquet-style meals as opposed to the $20-30pp dinner Diana is seeking. For her specific purpose, a family-style dinner is more suitable.

                              1. re: hrhboo
                                Pei Oct 4, 2007 10:44 PM

                                Definitely! For most nights, family style dinner is the best option. It's easy to do that and be plenty full for very little money, or to even add one expensive dish to an otherwise inexpensive menu for a little treat. I love family style casual Chinese food. I was just answering Velvet Elvis's question. :)

                          2. re: PeterL
                            d
                            Diana Oct 5, 2007 08:00 AM

                            I meant I was open to anything. the banquets offer a little more for a better price, as well as the "wow" factor for special event dining. For my purposes, I need the sparkle, but not quite like, say, I would have to pay for the extra service at a high end non-chinese place. The reason I want a chinese banquet is that the food quality will be light years beyond what I could afford at a non-ethnic fancy eatery. I don't want people to have to be dressed in ballgowns, here, but I do want them to feel special.

                            also, trying to get my party to agree on dishes ordered family style is like trying to get a wad of garter snakes to stay in a laundy basket-impossible!

                            1. re: Diana
                              PeterL Oct 5, 2007 08:15 AM

                              But they have family set menus at varying prices that are less expensive than banquet menus. There is no need to get anyone to agree to anything. Just point to a set family dinner, supplement that with a couple of dishes that you may want extra. That's it.

                              1. re: PeterL
                                d
                                Diana Oct 5, 2007 08:25 AM

                                I understand what you are saying, and I know you mean well, but I have no option. It HAS to be a banquet! I have the money, that is not a problem. I have an upper spending limit, but have been told to use it to its fullest.

                                Thank you, though.

                                1. re: Diana
                                  Pei Oct 5, 2007 09:11 AM

                                  I think you two are talking past each other here. What Peter considers "family style set menu," Diana sees as "banquet."

                                  It's probably more of a gradient than a hard and set "This is banquet, this is family style." I could see myself calling a $20-30 set menu of dishes like Diana described as a family meal because that's what my family would get if we went out any given weekend. But for my friends who never eat Chinese food, it would seem like quite a banquet simply because they're not used to family style food served on big plates, or to eating six or ten dishes in one sitting.

                                  And FWIW, you will not be able to get what Peter considers a "banquet" for $30 a head, if I'm reading him correctly.

                                  1. re: Pei
                                    d
                                    Diana Oct 5, 2007 09:36 AM

                                    Yes, I know, but I mean one of the "banquets" on the menu.. Banquet A, Banquet B, banquet C and so on. With the pre set special dishes. heck, bring on the good stuff. Frankly, my brother and law can fill himself with the non tripe, ear, fish, jellyfish etc dishes and leave more of the good stuff for me!

                                    1. re: Diana
                                      Pei Oct 5, 2007 09:45 AM

                                      Those are exactly what Peter's talking about when he says "family set menus at varying prices..."

                                      If you call any of the restaurants mentioned in this thread and ask for "set menus," they will whip out a list that goes from $20/pp to $100/pp. If you ask for a "banquet menu" they will whip out the same list. Don't worry about the vocabulary, just call a few restaurants and pick one that has a set menu you like. You can't go wrong at any of the popular ones.

                                      1. re: Pei
                                        d
                                        Diana Oct 5, 2007 10:04 AM

                                        OK, thanks, Peter and Pei. The letter "P" has been good to me today!

                                        1. re: Diana
                                          ipsedixit Oct 5, 2007 12:57 PM

                                          To follow up on Pei's last post, you can choose the set menu you want at your price point and if there's something you don't like on it, ask for substitutions.

                                          The price might fluctuate up or down a bit, but there is some flexibility in swapping dishes even in the "set menus" or the "banquet menus" or whatever menu you want to call it.

                                          This way you can tell your guests that the menu is fixed (so there won't be any fussing about what to order), and still get the exact dishes that you want for your, ahem, banquet ...

                                          Good luck.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            d
                                            Diana Oct 5, 2007 01:14 PM

                                            Geez Louise. I want a big whompin nice but not "J-Lo" expensive meal with a pre set menu for my scattered family members in a chinese place in SGV.

                                            Forget Semantics, folks. It really is a side issue.

                                          2. re: Diana
                                            PeterL Oct 5, 2007 03:30 PM

                                            Just to add on to Pei's explanation of my post, if you say banquet, Chinese restaurants will think that you are reserving part of the restaurant for a function. Since you have one table's worth of people, you can simply ask for a family set menu.

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