Chapter 6. Selecting the Restaurant.
The growing guest list had me
considering which internal organs to sell on ebay
considering how I'm going to afford to pay for the meal. I know the odds are that a significant part will be covered by hongbao delivered by the guests, but I didn't really want to be sitting there ripping open each envelope as it was handed over and be calculating if I would have enough cash by the time the bill was due.
On Thursday, I was discussing restaurants with my intended, and suggested we need to pick one during the weekend. She asked what the rush was, since the wedding isn't for 6 weeks. I pointed out that we can't send the invitations out without having a location selected. I also mentioned that other couples would be booking restaurants about 5 or 6 weeks out, so we could end up not having a room even if we found the perfect place. She agreed we'd go hunting on Saturday morning.
One of the first places she'd been considering was the Dongguan Family Restaurant (family members cooked any way you like) at 13 Bowls (a large collection of restaurants in DG). I suggested we get dropped off at the other end of 13 Bowls just so we could walk past the other places and see if any of them were big enough. There was one Hunan place that looked like it could handle it, but sadly she vetoed that suggestion.
We got to the other end and managed to get the official "party menu". Prices per table ranged from "not too bad" up to "I guess I can sell both kidneys." When I asked, I was told the main price difference had something to do with the higher end selections having more expensive ingredients and (MUCH more importantly) more auspicious names for the dishes.
The bad news was that my dearest one had for some reason decided she really wanted to check the options as a super-expensive hotel. The good news is that she'd heard of a buffet place closer to the shopping district that we could check on the way to the hotel.
The buffet place had 2 HUGE advantages. First, they charge per person, not per table. One of my big worries is that I'll end up with a bunch of no-shows and people will spread out over the full number of tables anyway. The other advantage is that it's less than 70 RMB per person for lunch. That's more than I usually spend on a meal in China, but far less than a typical wedding banquet. There was a private room that can easily hold 80 people. They offered to throw in a wedding cake.
My darling did seem to like the buffet place, but still wanted to check out the hotel. The hotel had a buffet option - for about 190 RMB per person. The private room was long and narrow, had glass walls, and went down one side of the restaurant for that full fishbowl effect. It was also already booked. The hotel had a Chinese restaurant. We checked their party menu. Prices started from "I guess I can sell both kidneys" and went up to "If I rob a bank, I can then afford the deposit and should have just enough money left to build my own meth lab. If I can get my friends to all work for free as street level dealers from now until the wedding, this just might work out." Happily, my darling decided that Breaking Bad
was far better to watch on DVD than to act out in real life and decided to skip the hotel.
This left us with the buffet and a Hunan place as a backup. My darling was leaning pretty hard towards the buffet, but I did point out that there was one thing we should carefully check out first. Just because there's a great variety of food doesn't mean that it's good. After some debate over "what if I like it and you hate it?" we decided we'd need a tie breaking vote. We collected our lovely daughter from her other parents and went to the buffet for dinner.
I've had better food, but it wasn't bad overall, and there was a huge variety. That evening, my darling and I decided to discuss the advantages/disadvantages.
Price. My wallet sees this as a huge advantage. The danger is that guests might interpret it as being too cheap.
Due to price, I can go for some much nicer baijiu. Some special, famous, auspicious brand to make up for the lower price of the meal.
At a normal party with all the food/drink being served per table, I'd have a bottle of baijiu and a bottle of hongjiu on each table. In the end, I'd have a bunch of opened bottles ranging from empty to almost full. Also, each bottle needs to be the same type. With this setup, I can designate a side table as the wet bar, have several different types of baijiu and hongjui, and still end up with fewer partial bottles by the end of the meal.
There are two entrances to the restaurant. This could make greeting guests a little complicated.
Everyone would continuously be running in and out of the room to get food.
Lunch ends at 3 PM with no option to linger. Oh wait, maybe that's an advantage.
We went back on Sunday afternoon and booked the room.
There's another advantage to the location. There's a hotel about 150 m away. We went there and checked out the suites. Looks like it will do nicely for the wedding night.
And one more. There's a KTV within walking distance. For those who just haven't had enough partying when lunch ends at 3, the after-party can be at the KTV room.