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Wedding Banquet Redux at New Capital Seafood

New Capital Seafood - San Gabriel

In the months leading up to our wedding, The Astronomer and I worked closely with New Capital Seafood to plan an exceptional banquet for our guests. The restaurant has a dozen set menus that most brides and grooms choose from, but we insisted on selecting  each of the ten courses individually. Food might be an afterthought for some couples, but we wanted our guests to eat ridiculously well.

When the big day rolled around, The Astronomer and I were so caught up in laughing, dancing, toasting, and reveling that we ended up not eating much of the feast that we had thoughtfully planned. We stole a couple bites here and there in between making the rounds, but the party superseded the meal that evening.

New Capital Seafood - San Gabriel

We recently returned to New Capital Seafood to celebrate our first anniversary. Since we missed out on the ten-course banquet the first time around, we decided to order the whole shebang to share between the two of us. It was an over-the-top endeavor, but also incredibly festive and quite romantic.

The kitchen here has a tendency to rush things a bit, so we ordered three dishes at a time to control the pace and to avoid eating cold food. To start, we shared a luxurious platter of cold appetizers. The “house special combination” ($29) included jellyfish, pork hocks, beef brisket, roasted duck, and cuttlefish. Our favorites were the cinnamon- and anise-tinged brisket, as well as the glistening pieces of fatty duck.

New Capital Seafood - San Gabriel

The next dish to arrive was a super-sized bowl of hot and sour soup ($8.99) that our waiter messily dished out into two smaller bowls. Brimming with soft cubes of tofu, snappy woodear mushrooms, tender pieces of pork, and wispy curds of egg, the soup was soothing, well-balanced, and true to its name.

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Justin & Laurie's Wedding

I timed my stateside arrival perfectly to witness Justin ‘My Last Name Means Lover’ Amador marry Laurie, the girl of his dreams. Justin and I met in algebra class the summer before our freshman year of high school—I can’t believe that was over a decade ago! We also ran cross country and track together, which seems to be the common thread that runs through some of my greatest friendships. Pun acknowledged.

The ceremony took place on a warm summer evening in late August at a country club in Rancho Santa Fe. I was tickled pink to see Justin and Laurie so happy—I even shed a few tears. I’m not much of a public crier, but their vows were genuinely beautiful.

After the lovely ceremony, guests indulged in stiff cocktails and small bites while the wedding party took part in a photo shoot. Compared to the last wedding I attended in Saigon, this affair had dramatically less brash drunkenness, even though there was plenty of booze around. The bartender created a special drink for the evening dedicated to J&L named Love Potion #8.31.08. It was a strong pink number made with vodka and blueberry liquor and garnished with a lemon wedge.

Little nibbles included a savory bread pudding that tasted like toasted stuffing (above, left) and tri-colored chips with salsa.

My favorite offering was the baked brie paired with fresh fruit, buttery crackers and a mango chutney.

After the cocktail hour, The Astronomer and I, along with a horde of guests, piled into the dining room for the reception. Here’s J&L being introduced to the crowd as Mr. and Mrs. Amador. Woot!

I snapped this picture of the gloriously stoked couple when they made their rounds to chat with guests. Justin and Laurie’s happiness was contagious this evening.

After the couple danced their first dance, and the bride and groom waltzed with their father and mother respectively, dinner was served. The first course was a simple salad comprised of romaine and spinach leaves, tomatoes, carrots and red cabbage dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Our main courses were chosen months ago when we RSVP’d for the wedding—choices included salmon, chicken and vegetarian. I went with the vegetarian option out of curiosity. I was served a plate of grilled vegetables (broccolini, eggplant, carrots, yellow pepper, portobello) accompanied by a tart tomato puree.

The Astronomer’s salmon was sauced with hoisin and an apple compote, and served with a sweet potato mash. Justin recently told me that the food tasted better at the tasting than on the actual wedding day. No matter, The Astronomer and I were pleased with everything we were served on the big day.

In between dinner and dessert, guests danced up a storm, the bride and groom were toasted, garters were flung and bouquets were tossed. By the way, I wasn’t aggressive enough to catch the bouquet and The Astronomer failed to grab the garter. You know what that means…

The wedding cake was not only pretty, but delicious as well. The layers alternated between chocolate cake with Bavarian cream, and white cake with strawberries and Bavarian cream. By the time we made our way to the cake table, the chocolate slices were already gobbled up, so we went with the strawberry, which was good enough to garner a second helping. Oink.

Justin and Laurie cutting the cake. I was hoping for some cliche cake-in-the-face action, but Justin and Laurie played nice.

Cheers, friends! Thanks for letting us share in your momentous celebration! LOVE!

Mien & Dung's Wedding

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Vietnamese weddings are so damn cool.

I attended my first one, and sadly probably my last, a couple weeks ago at the Saigon Star 2 Restaurant. Mien, my grandma’s sister’s son’s daughter, got hitched to a fellow named Dung and they were nice enough to invite me to the celebration. The couple officially tied the knot in a Catholic ceremony a day earlier, so this evening was dedicated to partying.

The two hour reception was filled with great company and plenty of cold beers—Heineken was the bia of choice.

I arrived a bit on the late side and was greeted by the bride and groom on the staircase leading up to the banquet hall. I congratulated them on their big day, we snapped a picture with the professional photographer, and then I made my way into the dining room. I’m pretty bad with estimations, but I’d say there were somewhere around 200 guests at the shindig.

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The evening began with dancers performing a little number in silky, all-white ensembles. I initially thought they were Mien or Dung’s friends, but my aunt informed me that they were hired by the restaurant.

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Following the dancers, the bride and groom were introduced to the enthusiastic crowd.

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Next, came the in-laws—here is my Uncle Hai and Aunt Phung.

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Following the introductions, the bride and groom performed a champagne ritual. Ten minutes and three bottles of champagne later, the glasses were finally filled. Unfortunately, the bride, groom, and in-laws were the only ones who got to drink the bubbly. The dry ice brought about a mystical element to the ceremony don’t you think?

After the champagne came the food! The six-course feast was served family-style and was very tasty as far as wedding food goes.

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Appetizers: Onion Salad (goi hai san kieu Thai), Stir Fried Vegetables with Cashews (so diep xao hat dieu), Crab Dumplings (cang cua bach hoa)

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Seafood Soup

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Steamed Shrimps in Young Coconut

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Banh Hoi

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Thit Heo Quay

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Seafood Hot Pot – lau Thai hai san

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Tropical Fruit Gelatin

The last wedding I attended had a buffet dishing up seven layer dip and crudités; this was definitely a giant step up. Although palatable, the food was far less memorable than the festivities. Standouts include the crab claw dumplings on the appetizer platter and the tropical fruit Jello dessert.

As guests dined, the happy couple made their rounds and greeted each table. They must have been smashed by the end of the night because every table raised their glasses.

And somewhere between all the boozing and food, the Karaoke started up and went on for the rest of the evening. My Uncle Minh sang the first song—he was completely toasted.

Saigon Star 2
Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone: 088117844

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