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Remember this post about picking a date? Well, that was written in June and it’s now September. This means, I’m long over due to recap how we picked our ceremony and reception venues. So here goes…

We’re having a pretty traditional Chinese wedding, which basically has one major requirement — a 9 course Chinese banquet. This automatically eliminates having a catered reception on-site at the ceremony venue. (Side Note: I did look into a catering Chinese food from Zen Peninsula and Yank Sing, but it didn’t make sense cost-wise and I was worried about serving cold/lukewarm food).

So instead, we are holding our reception at a Chinese restaurant. Now for those of you who immediately think of Panda Express and Uncle Chung’s Szechuan House when I say Chinese restaurant, well, uhm….no.

When I say Chinese restaurant, I’m referring to a 300-plus capacity restaurants where the servers can hold two spoons with one hand to serve food and they give you clean plates after 2-3 courses. In the SF Bay Area, there were a number of options that we could have explored, but because we wanted to have our reception in the northern part of the East Bay (the area across the SF bay, east of San Francisco, north of Oakland) our options were somewhat limited:

Contender #1: Restaurant Peony
(Oakland, CA)

::Pros::

  • Was available on our initial date 6/17/11
  • Good food
  • We have an “in” the manager i.e., potential discount

::Cons::

  • Capacity for 600 people i.e., we might need to share the restaurant with another party and/or be allotted the smaller banquet room because we only have about 250 guests.
  • Parking situation is not ideal i.e., there is a pricey public garage and there is street parking in the middle of the Chinese hood where you could be targeted for a mugging
  • The restaurant building is a little on the old side – this is just cosmetic, but it came up as a con

Contender #2: The Great China
(Berkeley, CA)

::Pros::

  • Exceptionally good food!
  • Was a hop, skip and jump away from our original ceremony venue

::Cons::

  • Capacity for less than 80 people i.e., it’s a hole-in-the-wall made from what used to be an old Victorian house that can barely even seat all its dinners
  • It’s Berkeley, so the parking situation almost always sucks – though there is a new parking garage right next to the restaurant
  • Didn’t really look into this place because it’s not a banquet hall in any way, shape or form. The food’s just really good

Contender #3: Asian Pearl
(Richmond, CA)


::Pros::

  • Good food
  • Plenty of free parking in the lot outside (for dinner at least, just don’t hold your breath when the dim sum crowd is around)

::Cons::

  • Capacity for less than 200 people i.e., while pretty big, it’s not big enough
  • The horseshoe setup of this restaurant is not made for a wedding banquet
  • Located in the middle of the 99 Ranch shopping plaza, which isn’t the end of the world, but not really that nice

Contender #4: King Valley Tea House
(Pinole, CA)

::Pros::

  • Good food
  • My mom eats/orders food from here so much, the owners know her by name i.e., discount & good service
  • Would be super close (to me)

::Cons::

  • Capacity for less than 200 people i.e., also not big enough
  • Set up of this restaurant is not ideal for a wedding banquet though they do have the double happiness backboard

Contender #5: East Ocean Seafood Restaurant
(Alameda, CA)


::Pros::

  • Good food
  • We might have an “in” with the manager e.g., possible discount
  • Capacity is a fit for what we need

::Cons::

  • Parking situation for this restaurant is worse than SF & Berkeley combined

So after looking through all our options, we picked our venue about week after our engagement party. Drum roll, please. And the WINNER of the Daisy & David venue search is….

Contender #5: Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant
(Emeryville, CA)


::Pros::

  • Good food
  • Great view of San Francisco from across the bay
  • Free parking & a decent sized lot
  • Capacity is a fit for what we need
  • Price is reasonable (which was surprising, considering how outrageously expensive their dim sum is)
  • The area outside the restaurant looks like a park which would be nice for guests who want to walk around (as opposed to a being a strip/plaza/indoor mall or ugly cement parking lot)
  • Mini dressing room for me, the bride

::Cons::

  • Didn’t have our original dream date, 6/17/11
  • Strange, non-linear layout for the restaurant

So there you have it. With so many more pros than cons, we decided to book East Ocean for our reception. As for the cons, we’ll just have to work around it (e.g., changed our date to 7/2/11 and we’ll figure out how to work with the layout so that guests don’t need to see through walls & columns to know what’s happening.

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