OC: Vietnamese Wedding Reception at Grand Garden

ze cake

When I told a friend of mine I was going to London in March, he panicked and said “but not during my wedding, right?” As it turned out, I actually had scheduled my trip after his wedding.

People in L.A. recognize that Orange County has the better Vietnamese food but we tend to still not go past the Orange curtain. Drive 50 miles south? I rather go to the Valley…not that I really want to go to the Valley. Just sayin’.

As it were, the wedding and reception were in OC and since I am the kind of person who schedules her vacations around others’ happy moments, I made the trek down. I’ve been to plenty of weddings but none that featured Vietnamese food for the reception. I was excited to try Grand Garden in Westminister.

golden appetizers - fried shrimp, beef, jellyfish, chicken, fried cuttlefish

Situated in a giant strip mall with a nearby Bank of America, Grand Garden is tucked in the corner. The reception activities were planned with military precision. I received a ticket, took a photo with the wedding couple (no date? No problem, we’ll get a bridesmaid to stand in on the other side to balance the photo) and then was immediately directed to the bar.

While nursing a Cape Cod, I admired the statuesque floral displays, the bride’s dress and was bemused by the entertainment (songs were mostly in Vietnamese). The our first course of nine landed on our table.It almost immediately reminded me of a Chinese wedding banquet appetizer plate. Except the Chinese wouldn’t usually have fried shrimp and cuttlefish. I ate most of the jellyfish as none of my table even bothered with it.

fried fish with special sauce

We also had crab and asparagus soup and honey walnut shrimp but I neglected to take photos. The soup was okay but considering all the controversy over shark fin’s soup, this was a better alternative. I was left wondering if honey walnut shrimp was a Chinese invention and if so, why was this part of a Vietnamese wedding reception? But all the wondering stopped because the plate was actually really good. It wasn’t gloopy with heavy mayo and the walnuts added to the overall crunch of the dish.

As for the fried fish, I was delighted it was greasy but could leave off the sweet and sourish sauce.

special Grand lobster

After a course of fried rice (not pictured), we were given a huge plate of lobster. I’m fairly certain I was the only one who tackled the thing and I was even encouraged to take home the leftovers.

crispy roasted chicken

I could barely eat the chicken. My table was groaning. Actually, I think people were full from the fried rice. Note to self- don’t eat carbs with more courses coming!

the hidden course- broccoli and mushrooms

Hey! There were no stinkin’ veggies on the menu! We called this the bonus or hidden course. I was happy for the fiber.

crispy boneless duck with buns

Oh duck, I love you duck. I only wish I had the room. I carried out four take-out boxes.

We ended up with wedding cake and lychees (a dessert I could live with) before the young people descended upon the dance floor. I collected my souvenir photo with the wedding couple and headed north homewards.

Congrats to my friends N & J. May you have a long and happy marriage!

Grand Garden

8894 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, CA 92683 — (714) 893-1200