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Need help ordering from Chinese menu for large group in Chinatown

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My family is having a reunion in May, and we hope to have a dinner for the group (30-35 people) in Chinatown. My sister and I, who live in the area and are acting as hosts, find ourselves in a bit of a tricky position. Our family members are most likely expecting to order from the Chinese menus, but our Chinese language skills are not the best and we can't read or write that well. We are also not very familiar with all the restaurants in Chinatown. We are hoping to choose a restaurant within a couple weeks and would like to make a more informed decision than we are able to now. At the moment, our short list is New Shanghai, Peach Farm, and East Ocean City. We are hoping to find out:

1) Are we missing any other great Chinatown places that would accommodate our group? Where would you choose?

2) If you've eaten with a large group at any of these places, what was your experience like?

3) Most importantly, what dishes to order at these restaurants? (If it's something from the Chinese menu, could you describe it and maybe give the pinyin for it?) I did search the archives and found some information, especially for Peach Farm, but we would especially appreciate suggestions for the New Shanghai, which changed management about 5 months ago...

Thank you very much for your assistance!

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  1. Ouselee, I think you would be wise to stick with Peach Farm. Our experiences there, whether with large groups or just the two of us, have always been positive. For an event like this, which is important to your family, it would make sense to sit down with the diningroom manager before your meal, explain the situation, go over the Chinese menu and perhaps relay some choices (the staff at this restaurant almost always steers you in a good direction) to your relatives. Then, the ordering process will go smoothly and could even be more or less done in advance.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rubysdad

      I agree, Peach Farm is great with large groups. If you ask ahead of time, they can do special dishes as well. You should also definitely let them know ahead of time how many people.

    2. you realize of course that Peach Farm and New Shanghai offer very different types of food (Cantonese vs Szechuan/Chengdu, respectively). I"m not aware of a separate Chinese menu at New Shanghai so you can probably just order from the English menu (which also has Chinese translation). btw depending on whether your group has some elderly members, you should probably be aware that New Shanghai does have about 7 or 8 unusually steep steps going up to the entrance (there is a handrail though).

      4 Replies
      1. re: barleywino

        Good point about New Shanghai ... also with PeachFarm, you have 5 or 6 steps going down into the restaurant. Neither one is particularly elderly friendly.

        I've never seen a group of 30 accommodated at either place, but I have worked with Tom at Peach Farm on a special menu for 15 before and they are great at minimizing the stress involved with a group meal like this.

        1. re: yumyum

          I'm a fan of all 3 places; but I'd also recommend prearranging the menu with Tom at Peach Farm...and seeing about accomodating that size group. A lot depends on what they have and what's in season (soft shell crabs soon!)..also give him general likes, not likes, must haves,etc Remember seafood is the focus but they do other things well,too

          Trying to order at the table for that size group sounds like a nightmare..:)

          Here's a photoset from a dinner a group of us had 2 years ago..

          http://www.flickr.com/photos/61246842...

          1. re: 9lives

            Man, you ordered well! One could do a whole lot worse than ordering exactly what 9lives ordered.

            1. re: gourmaniac

              i would add the surf clam w/ rice vermicelli and garlic (served on the shell) to 9lives list, if it is available (not on the menu)

      2. At Peach Farm and EOC, which are HK-style seafood restaurants, the language is Cantonese (jyutping transliteration), not pinyin (transliteration for Mandarin).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Luther

          Yeah, but a lot of the waitstaff actually speak both, or at the very least, will have one person on staff who can speak both.

          1. re: kobuta

            of course