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Friday, December 05, 2008

Regent West Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Santa Ana (Little Saigon)

I know I tend to blog thematically, now I wonder if I'm starting to blog by color? Is it too much of a segue to say that the cranberry posts reminded me of a recent wedding reception?

Regent West Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Santa Ana (Little Saigon) 1

A few weeks ago, one of my third-cousins got married. What's a third-cousin? Her maternal grandfather was first-cousins with my ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandmother). So her mom and my dad are second-cousins. Hence, she and I are third-cousins.

The wedding reception was held at Regent West Restaurant in Santa Ana. It's located on First Street, right after it changes from Bolsa Avenue as you cross the border from Westminster. So still in the heart of Little Saigon.

I was subbing for my parents so I was seated at a table with my youngest and second-youngest uncles and their wives. The other half of the table were people from our hometown. There were 31 tables altogether.

I really liked the autumnal effect and simplicity of this centerpiece. It was located a little bit inside the entrance. As you enter, to the left of the entrance was the picture-taking area with columns and huge floral bouquets.

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Yes, the flowers were real. :)

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The centerpieces. The bride made all the centerpiece arrangements herself.

Of course, no Vietnamese wedding reception is complete without cognac. I've eaten at Regent once before, long ago, so memory escapes me of what the food was like. The walls were all draped in white, which created a bit of a tent-effect.

Regent West Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Santa Ana (Little Saigon) 4

Since Vietnamese are notoriously late to receptions, I've noticed a trend to serve appetizers and cocktails. Also, this was the night the most recent wildfires had broken out so several freeways were closed. My youngest aunt and oldest uncle set out at the same time I did but took another route and ended up arriving 45 minutes later.

Anyway, so while I was waiting for the reception to start, I moseyed on back to get a look at the punch fountain.

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Fruit, Vietnamese coffee gelatin, and cassava cake.

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There were mini pa te so (Vietnamese pate chaud) too.

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When it was time for the bride and groom to come out, the restaurant coordinator rolled out the walkway and sprinkled fresh rose petals.

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Notice the big red balloon on top?

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The balloons were all along the walkway and when the bride and groom walked underneath, they popped confetti.

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OK, time to eat! That's all you really care about right?

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The eight flavor cold cut platter with jelly fish, squid, pork, headcheese, preserved duck eggs, and clams.

I sat at a table with a bunch of hams. Almost everyone wanted to take pictures with the cold cut platter, including my second-youngest uncle who posed with a big grin.

The clams are the long white strips on the bottom left. Mini razor clams? They were awfully good. I like bi-valves. The jelly fish were excellent as well, but I've never met a jelly fish that didn't taste good. And loads of cilantro. That seemed to be a constant theme throughout the night.

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Crab and shark fin soup. Excellent.

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Boneless chicken with shrimp paste.

Regent West Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Santa Ana (Little Saigon) 14

I've never seen this dish before so that was pretty unusual. The shrimp paste with just a little bit of chicken meat was good. I didn't care for the breading though. It was a harbinger of breaded dishes ahead.

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House special lobster. It's really hard to ruin lobster for me. The whole table attacked this.

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Combination stir-fry in bird's nest.

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Here's another angle so you can see the effect. The noodles were too thick and crunchy, the stir-fry was too bland. And they used imitation crab. This dish wasn't too popular and there was lots left over.

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Crispy duck with steamed buns.

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Crispy duck? Yup, it was breaded. I want crispy skin! This dish was too heavy and didn't go over so well with the other guests either.

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Fried fish fillet. I think I tried a piece of this but the breading was just too much. I liked the sauce though. Individually, the breaded and fried dishes wouldn't have been bad, but as part of a multi-course meal, it's just too much.

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Fried rice. I had no room for any more food.

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Taro paste, gingko nuts, dates, and lotus seed dessert. One of my favorite Trieu Chau desserts, but not the best rendition of it.

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The wedding cake. It's hard to tell from this picture the immense size of the cake.

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And party favors. The boxes were filled with various candies.

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The setting was quite nice. The staging area was great for photos. The rolled out walkway with rose petals was a nice touch. The restaurant also generously donated the two big bouquets on the stage to be given away.

The food had some hits and misses. I really liked the cold cut platter and soup. While nothing was bad, nothing stood out either. I don't think the breaded duck and breaded fish were very well-executed though. Nonetheless, my expectations weren't too high anyway since I don't venture to Little Saigon, or Orange County, for Chinese food.

And really, I don't go to weddings for the food. That's just a side benefit. :)

My other wedding banquet posts:
Capital Seafood Chinese Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Monterey Park
Empress Harbor Seafood 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
4717 W. First St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703
714-531-5798 or toll free 877-936-8432

1 year ago today, bok choy kimchee (Korean pickled bok choy).


  1. I love Chinese wedding food, especially lobster! However, I have to say that seeing shark fin soup angers me after learning that fishermen only cut the fins off sharks and throw the sharks back into the water to sink and die... I think if more people realized this, they would not be as willing to eat it. In fact, CNN featured this yesterday.

  2. I think about 99% of the population must be third cousings. Does this mean I'll be invited to your wedding? ;)

    Man, we lucked out with the food at our wedding. I can still taste that tomato soup from 6 years ago. My wife's veil even loved it (it blew into her bowl).

  3. I never been to a Vietnamese wedding, I am sure the food was yummy! Cassave cake......I want some!!!
    Thanks for sharing it w us.

  4. Nice write up! I felt like I was right there with you. I think that Vietnamese American weddings ought to include the Vietnamese tradition of drunken keroke.

  5. Hey WC - You have a huuuge family.... we should figure out the 6 degrees of seperation from WC! I'm set to go to a pretty large Vietnamese Wedding in a week. So thanks for really giving me something to look forward to.

  6. I love that you say cognac is essential to any Vietnamese wedding--it is, right after the presence of the bride and groom! :)

  7. Interesting with the appetizer trend. Wouldn't that fill you up too much for the rest of the night, especially the pate so? I still remember how my Viet/Chinese caterer took our 500 dollar deposit, went out of business and disappeared forever. Luckily we found a good replacement.

  8. Hmmm...don't remember having that duck with steamed buns dish in any of the Chinese wedding dinner I attended before.

  9. Oh I've becoming familiar with this restaurant. My brother had his reception there, and his wife's two brothers decided to have theirs at the same restaurant.. lol .. I agree with your observation, the decor and coordination are nice, the foods can be hit and miss, but overall the restaurant offers good wedding packages. Funny, I took the same picture of that "seafood birdnest" dish :-)

  10. Miss.Adventure,
    Yes, shark's fin has been controversial for quite a while for that reason. But all delicacies seem to be controversial, take bird's nest for example.

    Jan Frederick,
    Haha. That's not gonna happen for a while. :P Tomato soup while wearing white? Your wife is one brave woman.

    Yeah, I didn't get a close-up of the cassava cake b/c by the time I turned around to take a photo, my aunt and uncle both ate a piece.

    I left a lot out, including karaoke commentary. ;)

    I've got to go to another wedding next week. Wouldn't it be funny if we ended up at the same one?

    Cognac and karaoke seem to be VNese wedding essentials indeed!

    Oh, that's awful. I'm glad you were able to find a replacement. Since the food didn't come out until an hour after the invitation's starting time, the appetizers were good to hold off hunger for the people who came on time. The pate so were bite-sized.

    I had Peking duck at a recent wedding reception and that was much better!

    My College Kitchen,
    That sounds like a friend of mine. Her reception and her husband's two siblings' receptions were all at the same restaurant. I guess it's easier to go back to the same place since you know what to expect. I looked at their wedding packages, seems pretty good since they include flowers and cake. Weddings are so stressful to organize, I'm sure there's lots of people who like that it's all coordinated for them.

  11. I too felt like I was right there at the wedding.

    It was interesting to see the soda and booze bottles right on the table. I noticed this in the photos of previous wedding reception posts too. Makes sense - cuts down on a bartender and lines for drinks. But it does become a design element.

  12. I don't really care for shark's fin, it really has no taste on its own and just soaks up whatever the broth its in. But very traditional Asian "show you I got money" celebration dish. I'd be just as fine with the fake vermicelli shark's fin.

    For better or for worse, I've only been to one wedding in my entire life. It's great that folks/friends are tying the knot, but I get bored so easily!

  13. hi wc!
    i've only been to one Vietnamese wedding reception. One of my friends, who's Filipino American married a Vietnamese woman. Their wedding reception food was amazing! It was 9 or 10 courses! They also had 2 litre soda bottles on their tables. What's with the cognac? Sorry for my ignorance.

    One thing my friend told me was that because half the wedding guests were Filipino, he had to convince the restaurant to serve the rice (to the Filipinos only) along with their courses since rice is normally served last in Vietnamese(and I found out, Chinese too) wedding receptions. He was met with some resistance but they did it. Is it because rice is considered the crappiest dish and they want you to fill up on the good stuff first? School me here. :)

  14. WC,

    Was just browsing unread articles I had in my rss feeds and noticed this one. Incidently, I had my wedding at Regent West the day after you posted this!

    I agree that nothing stood out with the food and that nothing was terribly bad either. I was happy with that because as they say, as long as nothing is bad, the guests won't complain. One plus is that everyone I talked to mentioned that each platter that was served had a LOT of food.

    Considering all the extras that were included in the wedding packages (great cake, flowers etc) and how much the restaurant coordinator was willing to work with us, my wife and I thought that Regent West was a great and affordable place to have our reception at.

    Just wanted to put out the good word. :)


  15. Susan,
    I think people are more practical. With 300 to 500 guests, the bar is usually only reserved for alcoholic drinks. Imagine if all the guests had to go up repeatedly just to get refills on water and soft drinks. The servers are too busy bringing out 8 to 10 courses to refill drinks too.

    Shark's fin has a texture that I can tell from the fake stuff, although I don't mind the fake stuff either if it saves the sharks. Only one wedding? I've been to a handful and have usually enjoyed myself.

    Canine Cologne,
    Yup. Rice is a cheap filler and while the restaurant could certainly serve plain rice along with all the courses, people don't want to fill up on the cheap stuff. And you don't want to give the impression that you're feeding your guests the cheap stuff. Cognac is also pricey and many people go to weddings to celebrate, so again, gotta bring out the good stuff.

    Congratulations to you and the missus! What a coincidence huh? I think their package deals are really what pulls in people. It's so much easier to have a place that coordinates that all for you. I've been to weddings with worse food so it was good enough for me. Of course, I've been to weddings with much better food too. ;)

  16. thanks wc - yes, that makes perfect sense about the rice...i've been trying to lay off on white rice for a while now. gotta eat healthier, so i've been doing brown rice but not every day. i find that i don't really miss white rice.

    i remember cognac was on every tables for my husband's co-worker's mom's 71st bday (he's Vietnamese). she had a 9 or 10 course banquet as well for her celebration.

  17. Canine Cologne,
    Oh yeah, a 71st bday would warrant some cognac. Although, women usually water it down with 7-up or Sprite. ;)


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