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Jul 7, 2013 06:49 AM

Chinese Banquet Recommendations

I'm trying to plan a rehearsal dinner for approximately 50 ppl. I really want to do a chinese style banquet... in Chinatown or in the burbs is okay. Are there any recommendations for places with stellar food?

Nicer ambiance would be... nice, but I'd rather the food be as good as it can get in the greater Boston area if there's a trade off. I've done a ton of research online already, but reviews/info has been inconsistent and lacking. I would love to hear from people who have had personal dining experiences. Thanks so much for your help!

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  1. For a large group I would suggest the Szechuan Garden in Woburn. It is right off Rte 128/95 so it's easy to get to. The restaurant is actually in an old colonial house and on the second floor they have a large private room that can easily accommodate 50 people. I have done business functions and a graduation party there and they have always done a good job. The owner will work with you develop a menu that will appeal to everyone in your group. They of course feature Szechuan style food and they do many of the most common Szechuan dishes but they will also do others things too. Szechuan Garden is a nice venue and the food is very good. They also have a full bar.

    12 Replies
    1. re: RoyRon

      Yeah I've definitely been recommended this place before. I went in late May with a few people for lunch to check it out and the food was really just terrible. I was super disappointed because it was a frontrunner in my mind for the rehearsal dinner I'm planning. Lots of people have recommended this place online and said the food is solid, but based on my recent experience, I'm just not willing to risk it.

      1. re: aww98

        I'm thinking Joyful Garden on Soldiers Field Road or Chang Sho(?) near Porter Square. Both are a notch up in setting and I'd give the edge to Joyful Garden on food.

        1. re: teezeetoo

          I went to a great lunch banquet at Joyful Garden. The food was excellent, especially the fish and seafood, and the room was spacious. In addition, they have a large parking lot and are easy to get to from all over the area.

        2. re: aww98

          I think you need to specify what type of chinese food you are looking for. If you go to Szechuan garden and order american-chinese pupu platter, lomein, general gau type food you will likely not be as happy as someone who goes there wanting Szechuan type food.

          I organized a banquet in a private room upstairs at China Pearl Boston once which was good for cantonese type food.

          1. re: hargau

            I'm chinese and I'm looking for the best authentic(ish - b/c authenticity is pretty much unreachable in the boston area) chinese food I can get in the area. At Szechuan garden, we ordered only szechuan dishes, which is why it was particularly disappointing. I absolutely love lao sichuan (mostly frequenting the framingham outlet) but they really don't have the space to serve 50ish people banquet style. Most of the guests will be Americans with a handful of chinese family (guangdong) visiting from mainland china.

            Was the food at China Pearl good? It seems like one of the three go-tos for banquets in the area -- not sure what distinguishes China Pearl from, for example, Hei La Moon, if anything. Thanks for the advice!

            1. re: aww98

              Well hei la moon has a large downstairs which maybe they would do private but i doubt for 50.. more like 500. I have never had anything but dimsum at hlm, but have been dozens of times..

              China Pearl has some smaller upstairs rooms which was part of the appeal to us.. Lao Sichuan in framingham has a semi private back area with like 4 tables but i doubt you get more than 30-35 back there.. we prefer the billerica one which is tiny..

              The food at China Pearl was good Cantonese style. This was many years ago but from what i recall we had pan fried noodles 8 delight, ginger/scallion lobsters, small suckling pig, appetizer platters, house rice, cant recall what else. I am sure we had some general gau type dishes to please the masses.

              You might check out the new place in Lowell called China Star Dim Sum and Seafood. I have only been for the dimsum but the menu is quite large and the service is very good. I dont think they have any private rooms though.

              1. re: aww98

                Based on your criteria, ethnicity and guest list, i can't honestly recommend any of our chinese restaurants for an excellent chinese banquet. All of our places will be disappointing I'm afraid. I used East Ocean City and ordered off menu for my Cantonese/Canadian family and it was good so look into this. The biggest hit for my wedding was Southern BBQ and we used Blue Ribbon was it was still good. Why not treat your Quangdong relatives to something that can;t easily get back home?

                1. re: gourmaniac

                  Thanks! The wedding will be all American food so we really want to do chinese food for the rehearsal dinner. I haven't been to East Ocean City in a very long time, but I remember the food being really delicious! I will give them a call. Do you have any recommendations/advice for specific dishes there?

                  1. re: gourmaniac

                    I have to respectfully disagree with gourmaniac here. Boston has many excellent Chinese restaurants --- some of the best in the country, in fact. Finding a restaurant that can accommodate a 50-person banquet does narrow the field a bit, but there are still several options.

                    Personally, I would avoid the big Chinatown palaces. I have been to many disappointing banquets at Hei La Moon, although sometimes a few dishes were excellent. I suspect if you are willing to pay enough they can put together a decent banquet. However, I wouldn't risk it, when better options exist. If you needed a 300-person banquet in a restaurant I would say that's your only option. (I have actually had Fuloon cater a 300-person banquet off-site and that worked out very well also).

                    Joyful Garden is large enough for a 50-person banquet, and has an excellent Cantonese menu (the Chinese-language menu).

                    Fuloon has a private room for ~20 people, but can probably arrange semi-space for 50 people behind the fish tank in the main dining room.

                    I second the recommendation for Szechuan Garden in Woburn. I'm sorry you had a bad experience there, but I would recommend returning again and trying it for dinner. Szechuan Garden in Brookline is very inconsistent, but my several experiences at Szechuan Garden in Woburn have always been very positive.

                    One quirk of Chinese restaurants in the United States is that the same restaurant can serve a $5.95 lunch special of Americanized-Chinese slop and also turn out very authentic delicious weekend brunch and high-end special-order banquet dishes. I don't disagree that it can be nerve wracking and difficult, but I wouldn't let bad experience with one end of the register dissuade you from hosting a banquet. Talk to the mangers, whether at Szechuan Garden, Fuloon, Joyful Garden or somewhere else, sit down for a tasting of the dishes and arrange your banquet! Congratulations on the wedding! =)

                    Finally, Changsho is a beautiful space, but does not have anything like authentic food. Golden Temple also has a beautiful space, but has food that's even worse!

                    1. re: lipoff

                      Hi Lipoff: I agree that Boston has many excellent Chinese restaurants. So much better than it was 20 years ago. If one is ordering a special meal for a table, one can eat well (e.g. Mulan; Peach Farm). I would saty our Taiwanese and sichuan (especially outside CTown) is remarkable. However, doing a Chinese banquet is a very specific event and I contend we still don't do this well. For a Cantonese banquet for example, there is a special set of dishes (with some variation) and they require a chef and staff who know how to do this as well as a space that's large enough and nice enough to do this. I don't know the traditions for other regions of China. In fact, 20 years ago there was probably a better choice for this when Dynasty and Imperial Palace were around and had the staff to do this. They mostly catered to bus tours as there was not enough demand for weddings and mun yip (1 month celebration on the birth of a child) before finally going under. Now, perhaps East Ocean City and Joyful Garden are the best choices.

                      RE OP, at East Ocean City, they have fixed banquet menus for different costs per table (higher for more deluxe ingredients). Dishes I like here not on the banquet menu: salty spicy shrimp with heads (fresh from tank); steamed fish with ginger and scallions, Alaskan king crab served three ways (very expensive), shrimp stuffed tofu, steamed chicken (bone in) and black mushrooms, braised duck with black mushrooms. Your Guangdong guests won't be impressed but others will enjoy.

                      1. re: gourmaniac

                        If you have the bucks, you can always substitute dishes for anything on the menus for banquets and events for a more memorable menu. Typical Chinese banquets are so large though, that for cost containment you may not see much variation from one event to the next, but this may be more feasible with a group of 50.

                        I know some people who have said they enjoyed their banquet at China Pearl in Quincy, but I have not partaken myself.

                      2. re: lipoff

                        I have to concur with Sam on this, especially about both avoiding the Chinatown houses and about the quality of SG in Woburn and the lack thereof at the Brookline location. It's worth giving SG another try for dinner.

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              1. I wonder if FuLoon in Malden could accommodate your group.

                1. I would highly recommend the new China Star restaurant in Lowell on Middlesex Street, very nice atmosphere and very good food. I have also been to two fairly large parties (about 50 people) at the New Moon Villa in Chinatown and the food was delicious.

                  1. You might check out Chang Sho in Cambridge. It's mainly "old school" Chinese-American food, but the service is great and the space is really classy and spacious, the food better than most.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                      Just saw your note about wanting authentic Chinese. Nevermind about Chang Sho!