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Chinese banquet options for 40-50 people? Oriental Garden? Other options?

We're planning a rehearsal dinner and looking to do it on a budget (saving our money for the reception proper). Private dining options in our price range ($50 per person) seem kind of meager, and were not likely to be able to buy out a place without blowing our budget - which lead us to think about chinese banquet options. We will be a mostly adventurous group but we'd like a place where we could feel comfortable setting up logistics without us speaking any chinese.

From this older thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/497659
The recommendations for Oriental Garden seems most likely to work - I've eaten at Golden Unicorn a few times, and while its good to hear a positive review of their management/handling of the logistics, im not a great fan of their food.

Does anyone have experience with throwing a larger event/banquet at Oriental Garden?

Their website has set menus listed (in english) for 2 and 4, and also special occasion set menus for 380 and 450 per table (also in english) under the "special occasion set dinners" section but there is also a chinese only "Birthday & Wedding" menu with prices ranging from 488 to 988 (i'd presume those prices are per table, so 8-10 people, but again, its all in chinese). I've emailed management about getting those menu's translated but wanted to know if anyone could comment on experiences dealing with them in a situation like this before putting in much more effort.

Alternately, any other creative ideas for dinner for 50 people at 50 dollars per person (we'd prefer that price be inclusive of food and tax and gratuity, could go higher if it was worth it) would be much appreciated.

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Oriental Garden
14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

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  1. OG is a good choice, and very reasonable on their banquet prices - though they tend to do a lot of land critters on them, from what I've seen, and seafood is their specialty.

    Of the Chinatown options for a group that large, I'd say your best bets would be OG, Amazing 66, or Ping's, at least in terms of places large enough to handle a big group like that. Jing Fong & Golden Unicorn of course could as well, but their food isn't as good as the others, at least not for dinner.

    Ping can be the most adventurous with his food (there's pics of whole suckling pigs and foie gras on his website, things he only does for banquets) - although some of that stuff may be more for $80 - $100/pp shindigs. Don't know, never done a banquet there.

    That said, there's often someone there who speaks English fairly well, as there is at A66 - but best to go IN PERSON to arrange it or see what they have to offer. Even with semi-decent English, the phone communication can be a bit iffy.

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    Amazing 66
    66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

    Oriental Garden
    14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

    Ping's
    22 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

    Golden Unicorn
    18 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

    Jing Fong
    18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

    2 Replies
    1. re: sgordon

      Thanks for the lightning fast feedback - we've got enough time to plan this that in person visits (and tastings, obviously) are totally doable, and i can totally see the phone exacerbating communication problems. Having never been to A66 or Pings, are the rooms comparable to OG's? were okay with a more casual feel, clearly, but much as we love a good hole in the wall there will be family there who would appreciate a little plusher settings (even if its chinatown-plush)

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        They're among the larger spaces, yeah - ones that could handle a crowd that size. Ping's is probably a wee bit posher than A66, more like OG - but, y'know, Chinatown Posh, not Midtown French Posh.

    2. We've thrown a number of banquets at OG. Always good. They do a good job too. Fifty dollars pp should do it, but not including tax and tip, etc. And as noted, you do want to go heavier on the seafood, which could get you to sixty pp for sure, depending on selections. Call them, they will fax you some suggested menus then you can edit accordingly.

      Golden Unicorn also does a good banquet but their nin dim sum food is not nearly as good.

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      Oriental Garden
      14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

      Golden Unicorn
      18 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

      1. We followed up in person at OG, Ping's and Amazing 66 both to check out the physical spaces and get a better sense of our options. Communications range from somewhat challenging (OG) to pretty easy at Ping's but everyone was very nice and accomodating (if a bit surprised that we were planning so far ahead). The manager at Amazing 66 even translated their chinese-only banquet options for us, asking if our guests were chinese and implying we might be happier with choosing our own options or substituting for some of the more unusual/authentic dishes (he didnt flinch at all when we suggested we would probably rather not serve sharks fin soup).

        We will probably end up tasting a number of dishes at each spot before deciding - but just in terms of the available space, we were offered private spaces at each restaurant, and in each case it was the basement. Despite OG's main room probably being the nicest of the three, the basement was rather spare and we had some concerns about the narrowness and steepness of the stairs. A66's downstairs space, accessed from the street, seemed the brightest and cleanest, with Ping's being somewhere in between. In each case we felt like there just werent many other options in town where we could get private space for a group this size for such reasonable rates - will definitely keep this thread updated as we make our choice and report back on the final event.

        7 Replies
        1. re: tex.s.toast

          I went to a Chinese banquet for close to 100 people at Amazing 66, and the food was excellent. The particular one I went to was at least 10 courses, about seven of which were seafood. We were in the main room, however, steps up from the street, not the downstairs room. I'm guessing that costs a lot more. I can put you in touch with the people who were actually paying for the banquet if you're interested in finding out more specifics.

          1. re: Peter Cuce

            That would be most excellent - can i contact you through the tumblr in your profile? Id prefer not to post my email here but could register a new one for public posting if need be. I think the upstairs/downstairs wasnt so much an issue of costs as group size, at 50 we'd be just the right size for the downstairs room - it wasn't out of the question that our event could be held on the main floor but it would have depended on size (if we were either too large or sufficiently small to use the downstairs inefficiently was the impression i got).

            When was the banquet you attended?

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              I added an email address to my profile temporarily. I'll delete it once you respond.

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                Did you end up doing your rehearsal dinner in Chinatown? I'm in the same boat.. OG for around 45 people in MAY but am unsure about the basement setting. Would love to know what you ended up going with!

                1. re: gms2134

                  We will end up at Amazing 66 - OG looked great to me but my betrothed doesnt eat shellfish (due to an allergy that runs in her family) so it seemed less than optimal given the guests. The basement setting was not ideal for us either, though A66 will also be in a basement it somehow felt the brightest and least basement-like of the three we looked into.

                  Incidentally, Peter Cuce, i got carried away in life and never wrote to you in Jan when you put your email in your profile - wanna try again and ill definitely be in touch? much appreciated!

                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    I just left it in there, so feel free to email.

            2. re: tex.s.toast

              I think they're fairly understanding about Western vs. Eastern tastes, especially as regards certain gelatinous things like Shark Fin Soup - which many Chinese have stopped eating as well, as it's just horrifyingly cruel. I'll stuff my gullet with foie gras until my own liver has fattened, personally, but I won't touch the SFS.

              Besides, it's so expensive you can do more for your money by skipping it - as well as abalone, sea cucumber, bird's nest, and the other typical price outliers.

              A66 does some great presentation dishes - the "8 treasure soup" in a hollowed out winter melon is great, as are the short ribs braised in a pumpkin (usually kabocha, actually). Also worth taste-testing are the two "House Special Crispy Chicken" dishes - one stuffed with sticky rice & Chinese sausage and the other (my preference) with shrimp paste & almond.

              At Ping's, I highly recommend his Jicama Siu-Chow, a kooky sounding combination of sauteed jicama, fried tiny saltfish, and squid, that's just an explosion of flavors. He's very solid with standard dishes, too - a simple squid in black bean sauce there recently was fantastic, perfect toothsome texture, not too gloopy on the sauce. His XO sauce is one of the better ones, too - either with oysters as an app or a stir-fry with pig stomach, if you're game. He also does a good version of the Winter Melon Soup.

            3. Hi, everyone. I'm having a smaller banquet at Oriental Garden tomorrow (technically, later today, Wednesday, Feb. 1), with 11 or so people (perhaps as many as 15, depending on who among the "maybes" confirms tomorrow). Any special recommendations of dishes or banquet sets we should order? I used to go to South China Garden until an egregious denial-of-service incident took place, and they had several Chinese-language banquet sets that we would tweak (adding a little here, taking away a little there) with the staff. Anything like that at OG?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Pan

                Yes, OG has a few "set" banquet menus, according to price and dish, but those can be just starring points. You can add or delete as you want. You really want to call them and confirm that it advance, along with the number of people. I believe the largest table they have is a ten or twelve top. If you go over that obviously you need two tables. They do a lot of large table parties and you want to make sure they have space. Their hot n sour soup is actually outstanding, their house special seafood soup also excellent, ditto their shrimp rolls, tofu with shrimp, lobster country style, most any shrimp dish, clams with ginger scallion, ung choy with fermented bean curd, baby bok choy, oysters, etc. Have fun.

                  1. re: Pan

                    There turned out to be 11 people. The banquet was excellent. I'll post details later.