Monday, June 25, 2007

Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Monterey Park

The wedding banquet was held at Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant in Monterey Park. Right across the street from Capital Seafood Chinese Restaurant, which I attended for another wedding slightly less than a year ago. Read that post for my discussion about Monterey Park's role as the first suburban Chinatown in the country and why American-style one-entree wedding banquets just don't cut it for most Asians. In case you missed the previous post with all the wedding stuff, here's what the orchid centerpieces ended up looking like. OK, it looks more impressive when you see them scattered amongst all the tables but my family was everywhere, I couldn't get a people-less shot. And I forgot to get a restaurant shot for ya'll too. There were about 36? 38? tables. So at 10 people per table, with some empty seats, that's about 360+ people. Supposedly the restaurant can hold up to 500 people but I don't know where they'd all fit. The food! That's all you really care about right? 11 courses and cake. There were also egg rolls during cocktail hour to feed all the prompt attendees because you know Vietnamese-Chinese weddings never start on time! Cold appetizer platter of roast duck, roast suckling pig, char siu, head cheese, and jellyfish. I was too distracted listening to speeches or something on stage so missed getting the shot of the shrimp-wrapped crab claw. I actually put my piece on the platter just so it would look pretty for you. :) Shrimp, scallop, walnut, asparagus stir-fry. Asparagus was nice and crispy, seafood was fresh. Empress seafood soup. This was good, but many of the guests said they wished for the more popular shark fin and egg drop soup. Braised abalone and mustard greens. Lobster with ginger and green onions. Luckily half the table wasn't keen on eating with their hands so I got my fill. :) The waiters also brought out wet towels for us to clean our hands. Golden fried crispy chicken with shrimp puffs. I think I tried a piece, but really, by this point I was way over-stuffed. Steamed fish with soy sauce and scallions. Fried rice with scallops and seafood. I revived a bit to eat the fried rice. I never pass up scallops. Chinese cookies. Eh. Red bean puree with lotus seeds. The bride wanted a Cantonese menu so we got this Cantonese dessert, but I and several guests longed for the Trieu Chau mashed taro and gingko nuts we got at Capital Seafood. Overall assessment of the wedding banquet? The restaurant was nicely traditional Chinese red and gold, food was good if not spectacular, and half-eaten plates were transferred to smaller plates to make room for more entrees. The restaurant met the request for a "cocktail" appetizer of egg rolls which held off hungry people who arrived on time. I liked the decor and more intimate feel (if you can call a wedding for 360+ people intimate). But, and this is simply a matter of personal preference, food-wise, I liked my experience at Capital Seafood better because of the shark fin soup, bird's nest made out of chow mein noodles, and the Trieu Chau mashed taro dessert. What's a wedding without cake? Wedding cake by Maxim Bakery in Alhambra. Top two layers were lemon and pineapple, third layer was tiramisu, fourth layer was chocolate. Umm, I have no recollection which piece I got since it just tasted like wedding cake to me. The wedding souvenirs were jasmine and rose tea in spice jars. Lovely aren't they? The souvenirs and centerpieces were quite a hit with all the guests.
Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Monterey Park 16
My other wedding banquet posts: Capital Seafood Chinese Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Monterey Park Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Emeryville Pearl Chinese Cuisine (Wedding Banquet) - San Diego Prince Seafood Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Cerritos Regent West Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Santa Ana (Little Saigon) Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant Atlantic Place Shopping Center 111 N. Atlantic Blvd. #350 Monterey Park, CA 91754 626-300-8833 Maxim Bakery 111 N. Main St. Alhambra, CA 91801 626-282-9990 Patsy's Orchids (Located at the Alhambra Farmers' Market)
On Monterey, between Bay and Main Streets Alhambra, CA 91801
Sundays 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


  1. I just gained 5 lbs looking at all that delicious food

  2. That food looks delicious! I haven't been to a wedding banquet since I was very young. It makes me jealous... Are the posting dates reflecting the date when you dined at the restaurants? Or is something simply wrong with the dates?

  3. Me too - gained weight just looking at the pictures! I especially loved lobster with ginger and green onions - yum!!

  4. Great review, WC! I've sworn off wedding banquets but I'll keep Capital Seafood in mind :-)

  5. Wow! Man I remember when my cousin got married and had an authentic Chinese banquet. I loved the first dish with the jellyfish and thinly sliced char sui. The braised mustard greens were so good too. I used to not like them due to the bitterness but now I can't get enough. The crab too... oh em gee.

    Kinda makes me wish I could do my wedding all over again just for the banquet hehe.

  6. What a lucky couple -- the food is beautiful, a great celebration.

  7. Whoa, quite a feast...both of them! Though I'm kinda partial to the Vietnamese feast!

  8. I remember attending an oriental wedding and had never seen so much food...this was the first time i had the crispy chicken with wontons and they served it with salt..ever since i always order it

  9. I wanna be in your family! That banquet food looks awesome.
    Thanks for sharing your traditions, very interesting. The part about greeting the visitors was hilarious.

  10. Wow, I haven't been waiting that long, but these posts were well worth the wait! Congratulations to the couple, and thanks for sharing! Also, I wanted to thank you for your sweet comment (and all of those fantastic suggestions regarding places to eat in New Orleans)! I do hope I eventually get an opportunity to meet you, especially since I have grown to love your site so much.

  11. heheheh... i think your wedding dishes at Empress are wayyy better than 888. Your soup, fish, asparagus, and chicken look much better and i guarantee tasted much better :)

  12. Interesting. Being able to compare your description to our wedding really helps me evaluate how the catering was handled.

  13. I haven't had Chinese food like that in ages! I'm drooling all over my keyboard!

  14. Hey, I just noticed, this post is dated in June!! Thanks for making time for us in your busy life. I too have a bad backlog of posts sitting in blogger. ;)

  15. Chinese weddings are never on time.
    The red bean puree has those "finger-nail-like" lily in it? Saw them lurking ;P
    And I was looking out for Drunken Prawns in the menu to strike bingo in our telepathic minds again...but no...however, I did mention about Chinese wedding in my latest post :O
    So is that a strike too?

  16. Jaden,
    I probably gained more than that actually eating all that food! :P

    Just got a backlog of posts.

    Yup, I was saving my belly for that lobster.

    Sworn off wedding banquets? How come? The food is the best part!

    Didn't you get Vegas buffets for yours? :)


    I was so busy running around at the home ceremony I didn't get to eat any of it. :(

    Umm, please don't use the word Oriental to describe people. It's rather offensive. Far preferable is Asian.

    "Oriental" is a word coined by white people and has connotations of the exotic and foreign. It's a carpet, not a person. Thanks!

    Mary Ruth,
    My mom still laughs every time she tells that story.

    Awww, you're so sweet. I do hope we can meet sometime too!

    Does this mean you won't be holding your wedding at 888? :P

    I only glossed over bits, we can discuss specifics if you want to know the freebies they threw in like chair covers and no corkage fee.

    I keep telling you to come visit!

    My backlog wouldn't be so bad if I haven't been so lazy lately. :P

    It was shrimp, that's good enough. ;)

  17. No Vegas buffet for me! I prefer to stay away from those things. It's not just a quality issue, but that everything starts tasting the same.

    We ended up having the reception at Fellini's in the Stratosphere Hotel. But being that I was in a wedding dress with a corset, I couldn't eat much.. :\

  18. Jaded,
    Hmm. I've always meant to make my way to the Stratosphere, if for nothing else but to go on a ride! Ha! If you do another wedding with the Chinese banquet then get an elastic dress! :)


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