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Is There Such a Thing as an Openly Gay Friendly Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown/SGV?

An organization I work for is seeking to host their annual dinner in a couple of months, and this time the idea of a Chinese Banquet Style Dinner is been chosen. However, the organization I work for advocates for minority groups including the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, and would prefer to select a restaurant that not only can host a party of 50 to 100 people, but is known to be very gay friendly. Needless to say, with the attendees, and some speeches and discussions expected for that night, the organization would like a restaurant that is fine with having all this occur. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. I think if your check clears, or if you cash is green and has the correct dead president on it, just about any restaurant in SGV will be "friendly" to just about anything you want to do, and any speech your org will want to give.

    17 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Yes, especially if paying with cash

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Thanks for the response. The organization is affiliated with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national non-profit LGBT advocacy group, and we need to follow HRC's guidelines which is to have the restaurant confirm that they are LGBT friendly and do not conduct themselves in any manner that is anti-gay. That said, do you think it will still hold true for most Chinese restaurants?

        1. re: TripleAxel

          I'm not so sure that a Chinese restaurant *can* confirm that they are not anti-gay, not because they are anti-gay, but probably because the thought's never crossed their minds.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            It would probably be just as odd to ask them to sign a contract specifically saying they are friendly to heterosexuals.

            Having said that, since it doesn't matter to them one way or another, don't you think they might just chuckle, mutter something in Chinese and just sign the contract anyways?

          2. re: TripleAxel

            What are we talking about here? HRC needs Empress Harbor to sign a letter? In English? Proclaiming the staff is gay friendly? Hopefully someone brings the popcorn when this is going down, cuz it's going to be bags of LOLs.

            1. re: TonyC

              Not sign a letter, but I think it's safe to say I would have to go to some place like Capital or Sam Woo, where they are incorporated, and thereby, have a greater chance of following specific employment guidelines and offering benefits (which, in HRC's case, hopes that domestic partner benefits are offered, or that there has been no history of any form of sexual orientation discrimination or harassment). And if the restaurant is neutral regarding same-sex spousal benefits, then as long as there are no known incidents of anti-gay activity: discrimination, harassment, etc.

              1. re: TripleAxel

                At the risk of sounding like a reverse elitist, are most members of HRC going to be okay w/ "real" Chinese food, independent of the business being gay-friendly? B/c, if most of the attendees aren't Chinese, they're potentially going to feel uncomfortable for reasons that have nothing to do w/ sexual orientation/identity (and I'm being quite earnest here)....

                1. re: TripleAxel

                  LOL sorry I support your cause but I'm Chinese and asking this of a Chinese restaurant is near impossible. Almost all have some sort of, from an American, perspective "harassment" but I just call it being Cantonese Chinese.

                  I will bet that any restaurant will say the right answers to you because they want your business, now to know the truth is a whole other matter.

                  1. re: Johnny L

                    It's not harassment--it's "ambiance." :-)

            2. re: ipsedixit

              I'd think the really conspicuous thing if you did this in the SGV (as opposed to Chinatown) would be the group being largely non-Asian.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Can we find a Chinese restaurant in that area that is gwai lo friendly? ;-D>

                1. re: Servorg

                  Back to this again? I've only been treated rudely once in a Chinese restaurant, and that particular teen waitress was rude to Chinese customers as well. To me, it was almost comical. And I've often been treated friendly (gasp!). Hopefully, this doesn't lead to me again being berated for "being too stupid to get it".

                  This is a greatly entertaining thread though. Even my observations concur with what others have posted.

                  1. re: JThur01

                    Im asian and I get treated rudely occasionally at chinese restaurants, even when I speak the language natively.. It also *gasp* happens occasionally at non asian restaurants!!

                    It has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with service..which is normally no frills @ chinese restaurants.. -_-

                    1. re: jasongg06

                      I put up the emoticon so others would know (?) I was kidding.

                      Chinese waiters tend to be no nonsense, maybe even brusque at times, but that has never bothered me. They tend to get the order right and the food out in good order. That will trump any other consideration for me every time.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        I kinda thought so Servorg. A big thumbs up, +1, ^ this to your reply. I concur completely and jason's reply sums it up too.

                        Now, let's get back to finding a "Gay friendly" Chinese place in the SGV...

                        1. re: Servorg

                          thats why i put up the face as well..

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Servorg: "I put up the emoticon so others would know (?) I was kidding."
                            This is the "emoticon" you put up: ;-D>

                            It's meaningless to me. I wonder how many other people thought it was something other than a typo.

                            Sorry, but some of us don't even see emoticons.

                2. No chinese restaurant is going to confirm whether they are gay friendly or not. They just don't care.

                  Call one of the larger restaurants to book them for the night, tell them how many people, which course you want, and they'll be largely out of your way other than serving food.

                  1. IS there any friendly Chinese restaurant? har har.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jaykayen

                      If you order the most expensive option for a set seafood dinner and pay in cash then, yes, they're quite friendly....

                      To the OP, I agree w/ all the other posters. You might have a party large enough to book the entire restaurant (I think the private rooms would be far too small.... In the old days, they used to have sliding/folding screens that could cordon off the area....).

                      1. re: ilysla

                        Yeah, many of the good, smaller places in SGV, are about ~ 15-20 tables in the main room. So you'd probably want to find a place that's smallish and then book enough tables to book more or less the whole main room (the restaurant will still book the private rooms on the same night).

                        Is this on a weekend or a weeknight? If it's on a Saturday or Sunday, and you're not springing for the upper tier banquet menus (which, to be frank, will probably not be as appealing as the cheaper ones if the bulk of the crowd is not used to Chinese banquet food), they may be less accommodating overall.

                        Corkage charges and whether or not outside alcohol is allowed / encouraged may be another thing to consider.

                    2. Budget-permitting, you could consider the Hilton Universal City (talk to their banquet manager) - they may be more willing than SGV restaurants to provide some sort of official statement about this, and the Chinese banquet food there is excellent.

                      I agree with the other folks in this thread, though, that I think there may be a cultural gap here if you expect to get one of these SGV / Chinatown restaurants to provide official confirmation that they're gay-friendly. You're gay? "Ok... that's your business". But I also think you would be very unlikely to get much in the way of an outward negative reaction from the staff if you were to host your dinner at one of the nicer Chinese seafood restaurants (though I would love to be a fly on the wall when you are having this discussion with them).

                      Other thing to keep in mind is that these venues can be booked far in advance for wedding banquets. Also, make sure to pay a deposit, even if they say you don't need to put one down so early in the process - otherwise, if a bigger group comes along, they may just screw you over.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: will47

                        Agree as to the Hilton. Went to a Hong Kong Merchants Association Banquet (or something) there with the vast majority of guests appearing to be Chinese and/or Chinese American. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food. I cannot speak to it as it was very far from vegetarian friendly (something to discuss if you end up there). I dined on steamed brocolli.

                        1. re: lrhr

                          Hilton Universal City can actually do a fantastic vegetarian option, with or without egg, with their Chinese banquets (a full 10 course meal, vs. the several dishes all at once you'd get at most banquets) - actually one of the reasons we did our wedding there. We had a vegetarian table. I was the groom, but since I'm vegetarian, the staff was nice enough to bring me over food from that table, for the few courses I actually got to eat. It is hard in the case of mixed couples or if you don't have enough vegetarians to make up a table (I believe if you really push hard, they can also set up a table's worth of veg food at a buffet type station).

                          However, it is an option that requires you to order an entire table of food (family style), and typically, all the vegetarians would have to sit together. I believe they are also willing to make a stand-alone option for a vegetarian, but it's fairly expensive for what you get.

                          Hilton San Gabriel may also be an option, though I have heard the food is (surprisingly) better at Universal City.

                          1. re: lrhr

                            OP didn't ask if the food was vegetarian-friendly. He wanted to know if the restaurant is gay-friendly. How does one correlate to the other? I don't know.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              I think it's safe to say that there's likely to be some overlap.

                              1. re: will47

                                I'm gay and I hate tofu. And you *know* there's going to be tofu.

                                1. re: will47

                                  Most likely and based on your recommendation, all the vegetarians would have to sit together at a table (whether they like it or not) in order for it to be cost effective.
                                  It sounds strange to me...

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    Right. That is really the only way to do it and also have a full 10 course banquet. I would normally be more than happy to sit next to my vegetarian brethren and sistren, especially if it means enjoying a nicely paced banquet instead of getting a few dishes all at once at the beginning, and then twiddling my thumbs (and getting drunk on cognac) for the rest of the meal.

                                    And in any event, being seated near people you don't like is not unheard of at either weddings or business dinners, whether or not you're divided up by food preference.

                                2. re: TonyC

                                  While I'm sure that there is likely to be some overlap of vegetarians, my point was that I could only attest to other people appearing to like the food. I ate mostly steamed broccoli. Which is fine. I don't expect my dietary choices to be catered to (especially if i'm not paying) as long as I don't actually starve. I didn't eat the food so I don't have an opinion on it. Simply that, as a giant corporate entity, the Hilton may be in a better position to meet the OPs policy requirement and that they put on what *looked* like an authentic banquet which appeared to be enjoyed by a mostly chinese-speaking crowd.

                            2. How does even say "gay friendly" in Chinese?


                              4 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                No responses, which means Ipse is correct?
                                In that case, can I safely assume the 简体字 version is
                                欢迎同性恋者 ?

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  The slang term for "gays" is "comrade" 同志. This is used to avoid internet censors against the terms "gays" or "homosexuals".

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I'm guessing the average restaurant staffer would understand 歡迎同性戀人 better than 同志友善, which gets lots of Google hits.

                                  2. I doubt any Chinese restaurant will sign any pledge regarding LGBT policy, including doing anthing "in any manner that is anti-gay."

                                    Their primary focus is money, not politics. If you want to pay for a banquet, they'll take your money. If an anti-LGBT organization wants to pay for their own banquet, the restaurant will take their money as well.

                                    1. I think you may have better luck farther west (mid-city or on the westside), where the restaurant staff are used to being a little more accomodating of their customers' requests.

                                      Maybe other posters can help you find a large restaurant in the right area with reasonable food, then you can visit and ask about their policies.

                                      On the downside, the food will likely be more expensive and not as tasty as what you would get in the SGV.

                                      1. I appreciate everyone's input. It has helped me learn how to refine and narrow my search for an LGBT-friendly Chinese restaurants, which means it would definitely be one that is incorporated and caters to the American consumer as well as the Asian American consumer.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: TripleAxel

                                          You might look into Panda Inn in Pasadena on Foothill Blvd. (part of the Panda Inn group of restaurants that incl. the more famous Panda Express).

                                          I have no idea if they are "gay friendly" or even have policies to that effect, but they are a sizeable enough of a company such that they, of anyone I can think of in SGV, would probably have policies regarding same-sex benefits, anti-discrimination policies, etc.

                                          More info here: http://www.pandainn.com/about/

                                          Not saying that they will, but if anyone would, they'd be the most likely candidate.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            panda Inn or Universal hilton.

                                            I mean go to the sierra buffet on the weekends, it feels like SGV.

                                          2. re: TripleAxel


                                            You may have completely missed the point within these 20+ replies. It may be unimaginable to you, but Chinese restaurants, just like any other business, are mostly incorporated. If you walk up to Sam woo and say: I want to book a 70-person banquet, they're gonna be like: awesome, wtf do you wanna eat, give me your deposit, see you in 2 weeks.

                                            If you walk to to Sam Woo and say: "Are you LGBT-friendly". They're just going to stare at you.

                                            Book the banquet based on which restaurant serve the best food you enjoy. Shorting of filming a homoerotic film on the dinner tables, the banquet restaurant isn't going to give a flying hoot what kind of speech anyone's giving. They just want your gwailo money.

                                            OTOH, you can go eat at Panda Express.

                                            1. re: TripleAxel

                                              First of all, how did you do your banquets in previous years? Did you ask all restaurants to sign a gay friendly pledge? One suggestion for Hilton may be where you want to go. The San Gabriel Hilton does Chinese banquets very well. You may want to start there.

                                            2. This is a fascinating thread. Do the 50-100 people coming to this party vet the policies of the restaurants they eat at? If so, you might consider asking some of them.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: kengk

                                                It's not so much the attendees of the party... but the fact that they are dealing with a non-profit and spending the money of donors. As an advocacy group, they have a mission statement and their donors expect them to live by it and spending their money accordingly.


                                              2. I work for a research project at UCLA, and we study HIV/AIDS. It's a multicenter study across four Universities nationwide and each center takes turns hosting a meeting annually. A large proportion of our staff is gay. I'd say about 6 years ago, our Prinicipal Investigator decided to host a dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown (sorry, I don't remember the name of the restaurant) and there were probably 50 or 60 of us total. None of us ever worried about (or even thought about it!) whether the staff was gay-friendly or not and it turned out to be a very pleasant affair as far as work-related dinners go. I think it's more important to worry about the usual logistics of arranging a banquet for a large number of people.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: maxcatsilver

                                                  Yes, Max, thank you for your very useful reply.

                                                  1. How about Genghis Cohen on Fairfax in the West Hollywood area? Not the geographical focus of your original post, yet would probably qualify on the parameters you mention.

                                                    1. If you work for an organization that advocates for minority groups, what could be wrong with a large restaurant that is owned by Chinese people (or maybe Vietnamese), hires mostly Chinese people in the front, and Mexican people in the back.

                                                      1. This was fascinating reading but I'm still not quite 'getting' it. Do Chinese restaurants have a reputation for being homophobic? I'm an NYC hound here and lived in LA for some time as well and I wasn't even aware of that stereotype. I guess I understand that you want your doners' money to be spent in accordance with your organization's values but since, as others have noted, most restaurants do not have a printed policy ready to go about their gay-friendliness, I think your best bet is to book the best restaurant you can find/afford and have a good meal (provided it's not Chick-Fil-A). I also wouldn't worry too much about this one expenditure unless you've also scrutinized the politics of the companies that provide your organization's phone services, office supplies, and banking services. If you consistently screen the companies your organization does business with, then more power to you and you should be commended for voting with your wallet so consistently. If not, a great meal will be wonderful for the morale of your group. God, I miss the Chinese food in SGV. :) Please report back.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: JeremyEG

                                                          Do Chinese restaurants have a reputation for being homophobic?

                                                          No, I don't think that's what most of the responses are getting at.

                                                          Rather, it's that Chinese restaurateurs are practical first and foremost. You pay, and perhaps agree to a premium in gratuity, then they'll be and say whatever you want them to be.

                                                          Heck, if the price is right, a die hard KMT will even cater an event that is pro DPP.

                                                          I think the only one exception that immediately comes to mind is if you have a old school, old guard survivor of the Rape of Nanking, and asked that person's business to host a commemorative Nippon luncheon celebrating the Japanese conquest of Nanking.

                                                        2. It seems to me that what would be the best possible outcome for any group would be to find a restaurant that treated them just like every other group; whether they were straight, gay or just trying to discuss the latest in high speed rail.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            I'm not sure that's what the OP was trying to find.

                                                            I think it's more about being on the same wavelength, on a certain social level and maybe even a political one.

                                                            It would be like the Rush Limbaugh fan club looking for a "conservative friendly" restaurant.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              Just going for the "All men are created equal" effect.

                                                          2. Where is Tommy Tangs when you need him? I guess I would recommend Mandarette in Weho, or Genghis Cohen.

                                                            1. Do you think it would be wiser to choose a restaurant in WeHo where you *know*, for sure without doubt, their staff will be very, very gay friendly?
                                                              Otherwise, unless there is a restaurant in SGV that's proven neutral, you may be setting yourselves up for disappointment.
                                                              I agree with all the posters who believe the restaurants value practicality over anything else. However, is it worth the chance or the risk to have a few be possibly offended by something they're perceiving negatively that's going to ruin the event?
                                                              I can't imagine an openly homophobic restaurant but I've heard it happens and it's why WeHo is a place where events like this are planned and executed.

                                                              1. This thread is awesome. OP, if you do find that SGV restaurant that will cheerfully sign a gay-friendly pledge, could you please ask them again for those two glasses of water for me and my wife? Thanks.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: jesstifer

                                                                  No way! Indifferent service is part of the charm. If you want to hear, "Talk to me Honey!", you will have to go to a Jewish deli. If you want to hear, "Mucho dinero", go to a Beverly Hills steak restaurant, of course then it would have to be bottled water.

                                                                  1. re: jesstifer

                                                                    Well, I may have found my answer. API Equality LA, an Asian Pacific-Islander LGBT advocacy non-profit organization is holding their annual dinner this year at Empress Pavilion. I'm sure they have spoken in some detail about their organization when planning a wedding banquet size dinner with them. So, I'll start with them first.

                                                                  2. Hot Stuff cafe has hosted our group of friends on numerous occasions and we are gay. Chef Jimmy is an extremely capable chef and can craft whatever menu you like. I am not sure if the restaurant could host a large group but it is worth a phone call.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: hollyfood

                                                                        hot stuff cafe is not banquet style and their restaurant is small...

                                                                      2. in 2013, in the Los Angeles area, it will be harder to find the opposite.

                                                                        i believe that any inappropriate language or activity would then void your agreement anywhere in the country.