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An anglo view of a Vietnamese Wedding Reception

mc michael | Sep 8, 200312:20 PM

Got to Garden Grove for the 6 pm reception at the Hyatt. Interestingly, there were 3 other Vietnamese receptions going on simultaneously (a fellow diner speculated that Sept. 6 was a lucky or good day for a wedding.) The first thing we learned is that such receptions don't really begin for 1-2 hours after the announced start time. We passed the time having our photo taken with the bride and groom, exchanging pleasantries, and eating some overcooked won tons and egg rolls from the steam table. Around 7 the ballroom opened. At the front of the room a Vietnamese rock band, Temptation, began pumping out tunes in Vietnamese and English. The band was fronted by 2 female vocalists in floor length traditional tunic like gowns and (for want of a better word) headpieces. The rest of the band was dressed in a sort of contemporary/disco style. After 2 or 3 numbers the vocalists departed and were replaced by a string of others, both male and female. Around 7:45, introductions of the wedding party and families began (visitors came from as far as Vietnam and Connecticut). A few minutes later, to much fanfare, servers paraded in and around the room holding aloft the first course, the Seven Star Cold Platter, which was eventually placed on the lazy susan on each of the many tables. Already on the susan were soup bowls, pitchers of Pepsi and Sprite, ice and a bottle of Remy Martin. The platters and all the other food were from Furiwa Restaurant, somewhere in The OC. The Cold Platter was basically a selection of cold cuts and the required jellyfish, which tasted to my Western tongue like consumme flavored rubber bands, not bad actually. Next up (without the parade) was the Shark Fin with Crabmeat Soup. (Sadly, I must report that the puzzle of how to serve multiple dishes to 200 guests simultaneously at optimal temperature from a remote kitchen was not solved this evening--most items save the chilled first course arriving at roughly room temp.) This was tasty but just didn't grab me. This was followed by Candy Walnut Shrimp and Shrimp Rolls, definitely a dish that would have real possibilities in a more intimate environment. The departed female vocalists made their return now with their hair down, attired in spangly mini skirts, bare midriffs and high platform shoes. They sang and shimmied their butts off for as long as we were there. Serving temp again worked against the next course, Seafood Braised Duck. Served warmer, this would have been a winner as the duck was quite tender and moist. During this course, members of the wedding party strolled from table to table exchanging toasts (hence the Remy) and collecting the gift envelopes. Next was Furiwa House Special Lobster which was lobster in the shell breaded and cooked in chopped pieces. Not bad but a little overcooked and not easy for me to extract from the shell in the absence of "lobster removal tools." At this point having eaten quite a lot and feeling strong and increasingly vocal urgings from our toddler, we said our goodbyes before the arrival of the Spicy Braised Whole Fish, Lotus Leaf Fried Rice and Sliced Oranges (and presumably wedding cake). All in all, quite the cultural eye opener and palate teaser.

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