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Feb 6, 2008 05:13 AM

Dim Sum Reservation at Jade/Ocean Jewels?

I'm fairly sure the answer is a resounding "no" but I figured I'd ask. We have more than 15 people who are interested in coming to dim sum with us at either Ocean Jewels or Jade this Sunday. Do you think that I could reserve a table for 11:00 am if I spoke to a manager and guaranteed our business with a credit card?

Many Thanks and a Happy, Healthy Year of the Rat!

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  1. i would say yes actually. they probably will reserve a table of 15

    1. I only have had the chance to go on weekends, but have some days off in the near future.. Do they serve dim sum on weekdays~?

      1 Reply
      1. I was there 2 weeks ago and asked that very question for a party of about 10.
        The manager said "no reservations, the tables turn over fast".
        The Never Miss a Meal Club will be there around 11:30 or 12.
        Look for the BIG guys and keep your hands away from our faces, in a food frenzy we may think your fingers are spring rolls. LOL Hope to see you there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chefstu

          I had called yesterday and spoken with one of the banquet managers who had remained through all three incarnations of the place and whom I have known for years and years. I thought that perhaps I'd get a "favor" but alas I was rejected as well. Totally understandable. My issue is that my party is almost 20 people including quite a few babies, and waiting with small kids generally makes me a bit nervous. I like to get in and out. We've never waited more than 30 minutes for tables even with larger parties, so I guess I won't fret.

          Happy Year of the Rat! ***I have made a mental note to keep my hands away from your faces!***

          All Good Things,

        2. Unfortunately, the Chinese populace are not very organized, civil law abiding, or keep to appointments, and for these reasons, restaurants in the Chinatowns usually do not accept reservations. The only time that they accept reservations is when you order an expensive banquet table in advance, but Dim Sum would probably not qualify as a banquet table.

          Having a large group is not a particular inducement, especially as groups of three generation families with 10 people or more for Dim Sum is a very routine occurrence in the Chinatown restaurants.

          Also giving a credit card number is not a sufficient inducement either, as most Chinatown restaurants would rather take cash, even for those larger restaurants that do take credit cards. If your bill comes at the end of the meal for those restaurants that do take credit cards, and there has not been any tax added, than this is a hint for you to pay with cash, since if you insist to pay with a credit card, the restaurant will advise you that they will have to add the tax on. This is a “win-win” situation for both the diner and the restaurant.

          Basically it is a pragmatic business decision to not accept reservations by the Chinatown restaurants. The restaurants do not want reserved tables to be empty for any length of time, as empty tables means loss revenue, and at the slim profit margins that Chinatown restaurants work under, we can understand their reluctance to give reservations. This is why in many popular Chinatown restaurants, especially at lunch for Dim Sum, diners have to even share tables with other diners, as the restaurants do not want to lose any empty seats either.

          In some ways, this is a very efficient way to run a restaurant as both the restaurant and the diner benefits, especially for those restaurant popular restaurants that have 1 hour waits or more to get a table, as the restaurant makes maximum profits and the diners have reduced waits, but of course, there is the intangible aspect of loss of privacy and not treating dining as a special occasion that demands not only good food, but an accompanying ambience conducive to achieving some serenity.

          This is also the reason that most Chinese doctors and dentists in the Chinatowns have given up on seriously scheduling appointments, since the Chinese patients just show up at all hours, whether they have an appointment or not. For popular Doctors, waits of 3 to 4 hours are not uncommon, since it is first come first served, regardless of whether you have asked for and have been given an appointment.

          When we visited China several years ago, we noticed that the Chinese did not have formal lines, but the people sort of milled around and just sort of crowded in, whether it was at bus-stops, shops, restaurants, or any other situations where civil decorum is required.

          With all of the above said, however, we have been able to obtain reservations at the East Buffet restaurant in Elmhurst for a table of 8 people on a Friday evening. However, the reservation was at 6:45 and when we arrived, the restaurant was half empty, hence it was not a real test of whether East Buffet would have given and honored a reservation when the restaurant was full with lines going out the door, which is precisely the situation when one would want a restaurant reservation.

          All one can do is to try and ask the restaurant if they will take a reservation, since life is very fluid and dynamic and situations can change at a moments notice. The Chinatown restaurants may not have taken reservations last week, but they may take reservations starting next week.

          We see that you asked the manager nicely and he turned you down. In the Chinese culture, this means that the restaurant manager did not give you any face (LOL). But this also means that the manager is incorruptible and kept to the restaurant policy of no reservations in treating all diners fairly. One thing about the Chinatown no reservation policy is that it is very compatible with America’s democratic tradition, at least on the surface.

          P.S. Glad to see that you got the animal sign right this year!

          5 Replies
          1. re: lwong

            I must admit that I have been checking this thread throughout the day hoping for a response from from lwong; you sure don't disappoint.

            Thanks for yet another fantastic, insightful post. Since your outstanding mooncake advice, you have become my unofficial consigliere on all things Chinese.

            Both my husband and I were born in 1972, so we are rats and are hoping for the "auspicious" year my Taiwanese business partner has promised. You'd be proud of me, lwong- my home is decked out in red- lanterns, dragons, rats etc. I have double fish (something about the "yu yu" sound) an upside down character for "luck" on my door, hanging firecrackers, a "chuen-hop" tray brimming to capacity, vases filled wih blooming flowers, and crates and crates of mandarins. Last night we stopped in at three different banquets then came home and stuffed hong bao for all of my 122 students.

            I was particulary excited about the rat this year for my own selfish "crafty" reasons. As a little treat for all of the pre-schoolers in my son's class, we cut out red hearts, folded them in half, glued eyes at the points, inserted a heart lollipop so that a "tail" would protrude from the round side, glued them all up, and wrote "Have a MICE Valentine's Day" on one side and "Happy Year of the Rat 4706" on the other with gold sparkly markers. How's that for killing two birds with one stone? I must admit, I was quite pleased with myself.

            May you have a happy, healthy, prosperous, new year filled wth outstanding fare and wonderful company!


            1. re: ZenFoodist

              This thread is the essence of Chowhound !!
              Great posts!!
              Happy New Year!!

              1. re: johnk

                Wish a Happy Year of the Rat to you also JK.

              2. re: ZenFoodist

                Well, that is certainly high praise to be considered your virtual “unofficial consigliore on all things Chinese,” especially when you already have a Taiwanese business partner who we would presume is of Chinese extraction.

                However, we must caution you that our posts on Chinese culture and food are only “one person’s opinion,” and in fact, a number of posters have challenged several of our posts on Chinese matters and disagreeing 180 degrees with our viewpoints.

                Your descriptions of having Chinese decorations all over your house, the following of many Chinese traditions, and even the giving of red envelopes to your students, really puts our authentic Chinese family to shame. If someone surreptiouosly broke into your house now, they would probably swear that a Chinese family lived there, whereas if someone broke into our house, they would never know that a Chinese family lived there. Kudos to the Zenfoodist family who is “out-Chinesing” the Lwong family in being Chinese!!!

                Yes, we heartily agree that your red hearts folded over with the mouse eyes and the red lollipop stick representing the tail commemorating the two celebrations, Valentines Day and Chinese New Year’s, bridges the two worlds of American and Chinese culture quite cleverly. When did your family become so enthusiastic over the Chinese culture?

                However, the Zenfoodist family is remiss in one particular aspect of Chinese culture in not being able to eat the “thousand year eggs.” The Zenfoodist family will have to work hard at correcting this major shortcoming, if they want to be given the honorific of “Honorary Chinese.”

                Happy Year of the Rat and may your family have an “auspicious” (with two Rats in the family and all the red decorations in your house, this definitely should be a very fortuitous year for the Zenfoodist family) and interesting upcoming year.

                1. re: lwong


                  FYI: we are working on attempting to cultivate a taste for thousand year eggs- and making dismal progress unfortunately, We shall prevail in the end, however, as we keep our eye on the goal of "Honorary Chinese" status in your eyes! I will keep you updated.

                  I noticed that quite a few of the long-time managers from Sweet and Tart had defected to Jade. I have a suspicion that they will not "give me any face" in the future, as I have been a **very** devoted patron at Sweet and Tart from the beginning and something of a generous tipper ( I always felt I had to majorly cover that VIP discount they awarded regulars).

                  My four year old son truly enjoyed all of the little fried sesame ball cookies that resemble smiles and the individually wrapped half moon cookies filled with sugar and peanuts that have something to do with frying off last year's bad luck. The one thing we did not do to mark the new year, was send our little guy to school with a scallion in his backback. Many of my students' parents advised us to do this to ensure "intelligence" and high grades in school during this year of the rat. Something about the words for "scallion" and "intelligent" sounding alike. It took everything I had to refrain from doing so as I figured his teacher would REALLY think we had gone of the deep end.

                  But I must confess, I did put one scallion under the bed!

                  ***And to make sure this thread remains somewhat on track, the definitive answer is that NO reservations are ever accepted for dim sum at Jade. And FWIW, I thought the offerings were no better or worse than Gala or Ocean Jewels. I have yet to try the big garish place on Linden though. Some of our friends swear by it...***

                  All Things Delicious,

            2. Please clarify for me: Are these restaurants one and the same (is OJ an incarnation of Jade?) If not, which place do the responses at the top of the thread refer to?? Thanks!

              2 Replies
              1. re: erica

                Ocean Jewels is at 13330 39th Ave. Jade, formerly Gum Fung, is at 13628 39th Ave. Not sure which comments relate to which restaurant, but it is indeed the rare dim sum restaurant that will accept reservations during their peak period.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Thanks! Are these both equally great for dim sum? What would be the hours, more or less, that dim sum would be available?