Recs in Valley Blvd. Vicinity for Small Group - Narrow the Expansive Net
Need your help to decide where to go for a family weekend brunch/lunch on or near Valley Blvd. that will appeal to a variety of palates - from mild-mannered to pretty sophisticated foodie. There will be about 12-14 of us so the room and service should be able to accommodate us. Originally we were planning on going to a traditional dim sum place, but now we're widening the net since it seems like there may be better food beyond the cart - which of course has thrown the decision into indecision - and we need some help reeling it in.
So it can be any cuisine or region and we're not fixated on atmosphere either - a large banquety style room or small hole in the wall would both be acceptable (but we can get a bit raucous when there's piles of food in front of us, so no church-of-food places). Interesting food is okay but we're not looking for extreme eating or offal worship - not that there's anything wrong wtih that - and if it's on the manu a few people might go there, but not all. Primarily we're looking for really good food, not expensive, that will take good care of us - plus it needs to be open Sundays and located on or near the Valley Blvd. strip (within a couple of miles, we're going to a nearby event right afterward. Which also means the service can't be toooo languid).
These are on the short list - your yeas, nays, or alternates would be much appreciated: Michele’s Pancakes, Sea Harbor, Luscious Dumplings, Chung King, JTYH.
Chung King Restaurant
1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776
9425 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770
Thanks everyone for the input. We ended up at Sea Harbour, a safe choice maybe but a very successful one. They took a reservation for 14, we turned out to be 12. Got there about 10 minutes before our res and were seated about 10 minutes after it so all in all an easy wait. Big round table with the lazy Susan, comfortable for all of us. The only issue was noise - the place is loud and the large table made conversation with those across from you next to impossible, but I guess we should have expected that. FYI, they do have a small banquet room (maybe several, but I just saw the one) which looks appropriate for groups of 20-30ish. The food was really, really good, not dirt cheap but certainly reasonable. The picture menus have both Chinese and English descriptions so ordering was easy, and if we weren't sure exactly which dish was being served (not all servers speak English) it was all fine once we dug in. The vegetarians were happy, the kids were happy, and the cart-lovers all agreed that there's great benefit to simply ordering what you want. Thanks hounds -- and now I have a good list to try with smaller parties.
Agree w/ others that the size of your party is going to really limit your choices. I live around the corner from Newport, and weekend brunch/lunch is a total zoo even for a small party. I'm thinking some huge place like 888 as mentioned above, or even Mission 261 (north of Valley in SG) would be better bets. And, I'd probably nix the Szechuan/Yunnan spots, since even though you're open to different items, the odds of a couple folks in your party finding nothing edible at a place like Chung King would be fairly high if they're not into heaps of dried red peppers.
As for non-Chinese spots, Green Papaya (Thai) at the far west end of Valley is good. There are also a few places w/ "noodle" in the name on Valley toward Garfield/Atlantic that I've never tried but that look promising for a large group. Others may chime in since I'm curious too.
Raytam - do you think Vietnam Restaurant is big enough? I'm not sure - I've eaten there a lot and it seems pretty cramped. I also can't think of a Vietnamese place on Valley that is both large enough and has an interesting menu - most are pretty cookie-cutter, broken rice/vermicelli bowl or pho places, or are serious hole-in-the-wall spots that might put off folks expecting a bit more (like Bahn Mi Che Cali - I love it, but I don't know that I'd subject guests to it!).
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant on Las Tunas in San Gabriel can accomodate 12-14 people. The food is excellent, such as french style beef, stir fry lobster or crab legs. The place can get crazy as people are waiting for a table during lunch or dinnner. I would get there early to get 2-3 tables. No reservations are required. First come First Serve.
Newport Tan Cang
518 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776
raytamsgv mentions alot of good options, but aside from 888, none are on Valley Blvd, or necessarily very close to it except for Sea Harbour maybe (assuming you mean Valley Blvd. bounded by Atlantic on the west and something like Rosemead to the east).
If you want to stick close to Valley Blvd (between Atlantic and Rosemead), then aside from the aforementioned 888, you might consider Northern Chinese Restaurant, Mei Long Village or J&J, Sam Woo, New Capital, or even Sam Woo (the latter two being located in the Focus Plaza)
Mei Long Village
301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776
8823 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA
Sam Woo Cafe
727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Northern Chinese Restaurant
8450 Valley Blvd Ste 108, Rosemead, CA 91770
You will probably need at least two large tables for your meal. Does your short list mean you would prefer something near the San Gabriel/Temple City border? Here are my opinions about some restaurants in that vicinity:
Sea Harbour is an excellent choice. Get there at opening time (I think 10 AM) to get a good table.
888 Seafood in Rosemead serves cart-based dim sum. I'd recommend getting there after 10 AM because the good dim sum dishes come out around then. It's cheaper than Sea Habour.
Seafood Village in Temple City is a good choice. It serves Chiu Chow-style Cantonese food.
JTYH is a bit too small for your group. It might prove to be difficult to seat 14 people close together in two tables in that restaurant.
Luscuious Dumpling is too small for your group. The seating is not geared for large groups.
Vietnam Restaurant in San Gabriel (340 W Las Tunas Dr) would be a good choice. It's not too big but large enough to handle your group without much of a problem. They staff there is kid-friendly if you have them.
888 Seafood Restaurant
8450 E Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770
9425 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770
Thanks Ray. Sea Harbour or 888 seem like the most likely options at this point. Obviously they both specialize in seafood - we'll want some meaty meat too - especially the porky kind. Does one or the other have the edge in that regard, either in variety or quality? Also both will take a reservation for our group -- but do you have any history with them in terms of how well they do to get you in at or near the time of your reservation? We can deal with a short wait, but tales of hour-long waits are kinda scary. In your experience, should we expect that even with a reservation? Thanks again for your insight.
The problem you have is the 14 seat requirement. You won't fit comfortably at a standard-sized table. 888 has at least one small side room that is partitioned off, so you might be able to reserve two tables there. Regardless, 888 is large enough that you would probably be able to find two tables close together in the main dining room.
I've seen long lines outside of Sea Harbour, but I never dealt with them because we queued up just before opening time. Even after all the people in the queued got in, there were still plenty of open tables. However, I don't know enough about how easy it would be to seat 14 people in two adjacent tables.
Although both are seafood restaurants, they will be able to serve non-seafood dishes without a problem. The only caveat is that their kitchens will be geared for dim sum at that time of day, so they might be hard-pressed to cook anything fancier than chow mein, fried rice, or stir-fry. They will probably have duck, char siu, roast pork, etc., though.
If you want to be able to eat something besides dim sum, then you should go to someplace like Seafood Village. Although they specialize in seafood, their non-seafood dishes are fine.
I've never made reservations with either restaurant, so I cannot offer any insight on that.