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Who serves the most impressive Chinese Banquet for under $500 per table?

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Looking to hold a surprise b'day party in SF for my 70-yo pop. So who has the most impressive seafood banquet menu at 50pp or less? Location in SF is not an issue, but a private room in good condition that will hold at least 20 people (2 tables) is a must.

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  1. Bueller...Bueller?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Civil Bear

      South Sea Seafood Village? If memory serves, their presentation is refined and food is delicious with an emphasis on fresh seafood. My picky Chinese mother approved of everything. I remember her describing the labor intensive technique for their "fried chicken" that she hadn't had in ages and noting the high level of chef skills needed to make it. Coming in at the right price is mainly a matter of arranging the menu with the manager. However, I've only eaten in the SF restaurant around CNY (set menu) and on other evenings a la carte, not at a banquet per se. Their website says they have private rooms.

      -----
      South Sea Seafood Village
      1420 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

      South Sea Seafood Village
      195 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

    2. Great Eastern has a private room.

      1. I was at R&G about a month ago. It has a couple of two table private rooms. Had one of the set menu banquets for $400 (#B)...but subbed a few things. I was impressed because there weren't the usual drop-off between dishes and the interior is nice. For $500 you can probably get most of what you want (more seafood) if you sub or add stuff.

        Salt and Pepper Crab (sub'ed for Canto prep)
        Walnut Honey Prawns
        Scallops and Steak Cubes
        Fake Shark Fin's soup
        Peking Duck
        Fried Chicken
        Fake Veggie Abalone
        Steam Fish
        Fried Rice

        20 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          IIRC, Hong Kong Lounge on Geary has a couple of small private rooms.

          1. re: baron45

            Yes, they do.

          2. re: ML8000

            That doesn't seem very impressive next to Great Eastern's seafood banquet:

            Minced Seafood with lettuce wrap
            Shark's Fin with shredded dried scallop soup
            Sauteed Geoduck Clams & Sea Conch with yellow chives.
            Sauteed Lobster with diced ginger & scallions
            Sauteed Abalone & Chinese Mushrooms
            Sauteed Dried Scallops with tender greens
            Sauteed Filet Of Squab with straw mushrooms
            Steamed Fish
            Dessert & Fresh Fruit

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              How much is that banquet? Seems like the abalone alone will push it over $500.

              1. re: ML8000

                I don't know. I got it off menupages, where it was $288, but who knows how out of date that price is! R&G charges top dollar, and I'm not sure it's worth it.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  In my view, R&G is nicer and that's what the price is about and they're very consistent. GE is like a morgue. The food is good and that seafood menu looks good but no way that costs $288.

                2. re: ML8000

                  The abalone's listed as $35 a la carte. Maybe the $288 menu's not enough food for ten?

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    As I noted -- the price is from an online menu of unknown age. It's undoubtedly more now. But probably not more than $200 more.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      It was $250 five years ago so probably still relatively cheap given the list of dishes.

                      http://dineries.com/ca/sanfrancisco/g...

                3. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I would get a great jellyfish dish. That was one of the hits of a chinese wedding banquet I went to a few years ago (peninsula, now gone). But this menu doesn't have crab. I don't like crab for fancy meals unless prepared in a soup or something.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    The variety of seafood at GE sounds nice, but does it seem a little odd that almost every dish is sauteed? Perhaps there are other cooking techniques left undescribed for a surprise element. My personal experience with Great Eastern is that if you speak Chinese you can get a better meal perhaps because they're more willing to discuss with you what's in season and a nice preparation (I'm a reluctant/poor speaker but have gone with fluent speakers and the meals have been quite different!).

                    1. re: rubadubgdub

                      Maybe they're all sautéed because that's the luxury-on-a-budget menu? The menus SF Weekly published last year were more varied:

                      http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2011...

                      1. re: rubadubgdub

                        if you think about it sauteeing is the fastest and quickest way for the restaurant to get fresh tasting food to a banquet table. frying, claypots, and steamed dishes takes more time.

                        roasties and the poultry dishes are prepped beforehand so they're not as fresh. soups may be in the same category.

                        just my 2 cents.

                        1. re: shanghaikid

                          It's not normal for a banquet menu to have so many dishes in a row all of the same cooking method.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            doubt it will be consecutive sautee dishes. interpersed will be already prepped dishes.
                            the first dishes out will be the prepped ones: steamed sliced chicken, peking duck, etc. then some sauteed dishes. not exactly in a row but sautee dishes will lag.

                            the kitchen can't cook that fast.
                            steamed fish is always last

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I was walking by Great Eastern yesterday so I took a photo of the menu, the price for the Connisseur's Gourmet is $268 for 6-8 people. The other two set menus are $108 for 4-6 and $168 for 6-8, though the latter includes only two fried squab.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Current menu is available here: http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

                          Banquet menus at the bottom.

                          1. re: lexdevil

                            Not quite current, the top-priced set menu is $20 cheaper than it says on menupages, which leaves out the fairly essential information about how many people it's supposed to feed.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            What Great Eastern hasn't produced the President Obama special menu?

                            Here's the link, complete with local Chinese lady grabbing the president's butt.

                            http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/20...

                            Here's what the President ordered: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jared-r...

                            1. re: ML8000

                              that should be Chinese ladies. at least two got captured on film ;-)

                      3. Thank you all for helping out. I just picked up a menu from Hong Kong Lounge and I think the $380/10 banquette sounds more impressive than the $500/10. What do you guys think?

                        $500 per 10 People:
                        Six House Special Appetizer
                        Double Steamed Chicken Shark Fin Soup
                        Pan Fried Stuffed Jumbo Scallops
                        Sauteed Two Kind of Clams Meat
                        Sea Cucumber w/ Abalone & Green
                        Sauteed Fresh Crab w/ Egg White
                        Hand Roasted Squabs
                        Steamed Fish
                        Mixed Mushroom with Egg Noodle
                        Black Sesame Dumpling

                        $380 per 10 people:
                        Cold Cut Appetizer Plate
                        Braised Shark Fin Soup w/ Fresh Crab Meat
                        Sauteed Squab Meat w/ Scallop
                        Deep Fried Stuffed Crab Claws
                        Braised Whole Abalone & Green
                        Imperial Peking Duck
                        Sauteed Lobsters
                        Steamed Fish
                        Dried Scallop Egg White Fried Rice
                        Dessert of the Day

                        -----
                        Hong Kong Lounge
                        5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Civil Bear

                          I've never been to HKL for a banquet dinner but both those menus look fine. The $500 one doesn't even look like a huge rip-off, although most non-Chinese (and some Chinese) find the sea cucumber totally not worth it. My rule of thumb is that the cheapest menu isn't that great and the most expensive is usually a ridiculous rip off. One of the ones in the middle is usually the sweet spot.

                          For your dad's birthday, you should ask for yi mein for good luck.

                          1. re: Civil Bear

                            I'd go with the $380, it does look pretty good. I might add a couple of dishes since you have the budget.

                            From my experience, there's usually one or two weird dishes in a banquet. The app plate and dried scallop and egg white fried rice might be it...but maybe they're really good. That's why I'd go with the $380 and order more. Is there any particularly good dish at HK Lounge they're known for?

                            1. re: ML8000

                              What''s weird about them? You don't care for those items or they don't fit a $$ banquet menu?

                              1. re: ML8000

                                haven't been to banquets for awhile but they always have app plates. if not that, then peanuts and daikon something. always something to keep the diners busy and gives the kitchen time to rev up the food.

                                i'm usually smashed before the first entrees shows. just so boring waiting.

                              2. re: Civil Bear

                                You're getting fancier ingredients and prep w $500 menu.