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Large Group Dinner At A Cantonese Restaurant?

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I'm hosting dinner in a few months for a group of about 20. None of us are Chinese but I haven't had a real problem ordering in Flushing. How early should I make my reservation?

Also any recommendations? I used to like Imperial Palace and its other branch, East Lake, but the recent Yelp reviews are making me wary. It seems like Asian Jewels may be the better place for food and handling the size of our group.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I quickly looked through recent reviews on Yelp and did not find anything extraordinary. Except for a known fact that every chef deserves a day off, which usually falls on Monday. :-0 Could you please share what you considered a red flag?

    I don't think that Asian Jewels is nearly as good for dinner as East Lake (opinions differ on which of the two branches, EL or IP, is better); if you are planning for dimsum/brunch, then it's different.

    If you prefer to to stay away from East Lake and still have a Cantonese seafood dinner in or near Flushing, Lake Pavilion may be your only option. It's quite a good seafood restaurant, just not as conveniently located: driving there seems like the best option, although you can get there by bus too.

    4 Replies
    1. re: diprey11

      The reviews on yelp are always such a mixed bag of misinformation, I just read a review where someone recommended IP as having the best Peking duck preparation in Queens.... probably one of the worst restaurants to get Peking duck in Queens.

      1. re: Pookipichu

        I totally agree, but I don't know what kind of impression the OP got from reading the reviews.

        A public review site is always a mixed bag. Some people will get upset by a glitch in service, some will be unlucky to hit an off-day and then overgeneralize, some would not order right or have fairly strange ideas about the cuisine, etc. As I said, nothing extraordinary. :-)

      2. re: diprey11

        Lake Pavilion (LP) is good but not the only option in that area. Happy Garden across the street from LP also has a strong Cantonese menu. My family has been going to Happy Garden for years, going back to when LP was still a diner.

        LP and Happy Garden are good choices if you plan to drive as free parking is easy to find. Use the tiny LP parking lot at your own risk. It's easy enough to park along Horace Harding that you won't need the parking lot. Happy Garden doesn't have a parking lot.

        LP can get very crowded on weekends. Even with reservations, you might have to wait for a table unless you have an early reservation. Happy Garden has lots of seating on the 2nd floor and also private rooms in the basement (be aware that there are no elevators). Chances are that you don't have to wait at Happy Garden.

        If you go to Happy Garden, ask to speak to the owner about menu selections. He'll tell you what's fresh and good. One of my favorites is the crab or lobster over sticky rice. Soups are also excellent (real Cantonese soups).

        1. re: diprey11

          Interesting take on the Yelp reviews. I'm a big fan of East Lake and Imperial Palace and I was just very surprised by the not so consistently raving reviews.

        2. Mulan can handle a large party, they have private rooms and the rooms are very tasteful and clean.

          1. Why not Lake Pavilion?

            Lake Pavilion:
            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/din...

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/846262

            I would personally go restaurant the 10-14 days ahead of time restaurant to make your reservation and plan your menu. Why not go for two tables of ten each - with same menu at each table?

            10 Replies
            1. re: scoopG

              Second this suggestion. However, don't just make a reservation with the hostess. Ask to speak with Sam Lam, who handles reservations for banquets. He speaks good English and will help you with the menu, though watch out for the hard sell.

              1. re: scoopG

                I don't want to take a chance at Lake Pavilion. I've never been there but a good friend of mine, who is Chinese, went there with family and spent hundreds of dollars and she didn't think it was that good.

                1. re: sharonj

                  wherever you decide to go do arrange in advance. you will save a lot of money and annoyance for a family style meal. Go over the menu before you meet with the manager so you have some preferences resolved in your mind.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I think I will a few weeks before the dinner. Is it customary to pay some of the amount beforehand, and if so by what percentage? Thanks.

                    1. re: sharonj

                      No, there is no need to pay anything ahead of your meal.

                      1. re: sharonj

                        You certainly can--and I have done so--but I suggest you play it by the ear and don't offer it first. Reserving two weeks in advance for a group of 20 is way more than sufficient, unless you are planning to reserve the whole dining room.

                        If you decide to go over the menu with the manager two weeks prior or to order from the banquet menu--as you will be suggested to--a deposit will be expected. Otherwise there are no set rules, so unless you are planning to change your mind at the last moment, feel free to impress them.

                        But... would you need that? are you planning a very special banquet? are there any savvy guests intricately familiar with subtleties of the Cantonese seafood menu who you MUST impress? or do you just want to avoid blunders and not be taken for a ride?

                        1. re: sharonj

                          you can certainly make your reservation a couple weeks ahead if you need to - you are not such a big party for one of these facilities. I would just contact them a few days before about the menu. Am assuming its just going to be a pre-arranged family style meal and not all the special dishes that will cost an arm and a leg.

                          1. re: sharonj

                            Make sure to get hong siu ban nam Bo.

                            1. re: sharonj

                              Thanks for the tips everyone! Jen has the gist of it right- dinner for a group of people.

                          2. re: sharonj

                            I had a bad meal there a couple of months ago. Steamed flounder was really bad - not fresh and was just really poorly made. It seemed like the kitchen didn't heat up the oil enough prior to pouring it over the fish so the dish was this oily fishy mess. Can't remember what else we ate, but almost nothing was good. We used to enjoy this restaurant a lot when it was called East Lake and located across the street from Rockbottom closer to downtown Flushing.

                            I might be willing to give it another try based on the positive reviews here, but another person in our group is writing the place off. It was her second bad experience there.

                        2. No need to be wary of Imperial. Come dinner service, it represents the zenith of Cantonese cuisine in nyc.

                          1. Asian Jewels is not good, stick to imperial palace or east lake, they are exactly the same. You can also do lake pavilion

                            https://www.lauhound.com/2012/03/impe...

                            https://www.lauhound.com/2012/03/impe...

                            agree with everyone else about making a reservation a decent amount of time ahead of the dinner. you may also want to work with them about a custom menu

                            1. In case anyone is curious I booked the place for 14 people at Imperial Palace a week in advance. They encouraged me to order on the day of the event.

                              Some of the guests were late by about 30mins but they were patient with us and allowed us to wait before ordering- it helped that it was before 5pm. They squeezed us in one table but we liked that better. There were a few items that I couldn't figure out where on the menu but Lau's blog w/ photos did the trick.

                              I could have sworn I ordered the whole sable fish with black bean sauce but they served it to us deboned. Half of our guests were not Asian. I'm glad it was served that way because the fried lobsters were proving to be a challenge to eat, delicious as it was, more than the stir fried lobsters.

                              They were game for serving our BYOB wines and cakes.

                              Service was great and the food did not disappoint!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: sharonj

                                Sounds like you had a great time, thanks for reporting back :)

                                1. re: sharonj

                                  glad you enjoyed

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Thanks so much for your responses and your blog!

                                    1. re: sharonj

                                      you're welcome, im glad you like the blog as well