Sunday, December 04, 2005

It will be my turn

4th December 2005, Sunday

Came back around midnight after Weiliang's banquet at Holiday Inn Parkview which serves more than just a reunion with my SRJC friends... The procedures and experience is invaluable as how I would plan my banquet in less than a year away...

Earlier in the afternoon my mom, my bride-to-be and myself move southwards first to Clarke Quay where our first scouting candidate, Tung Lok restaurant which is located in an obscure corner of the 4th level of Liang Court.

From the entrance you would notice that the restaurant itself is been restricted by space, but the facade I believe is in theme with the high standards the Tung Lok group has been upholding. We were been served by a manager named Susan who was taken aback that we came in without their notice but I was even called earlier on from the headquarters to confirm my appointment. SOme miscommunication thing. The restaurant's floor plan is been seperated into 3 parts, the main hall, a small compartment for 4 tables and another slightly bigger room which accumulative area is enough to squeeze in 30 tables. However none of us was too comfortable with the multiple walls from the compartments as well as 2 large glass dividers in the main hall, meaning in case when a video or announcement is made on the stage area, some guests would sure been obstructed by the walls. Other shortcomings include there is no free flow beer, no video projector and the changing room is situated in the complimentary hotel room within Novotel, It was quite blatant that it was convincing enough for us to make the decision there and then and I only placed my name which allow me to make my final decision within a few days.

Next stop for us was Chengdu within Hotel Grand Central (大中酒店), by Cavenagh Road, behind Le Merdien Hotel which is quite accesible from both Dohby Ghuat & Somerset MRT station. The first impression when we stepped into the prehistoric looking hotel was that the lobby area looks really foreign, much like those in China if I have been one before.I had a tinkling feeling that the restaurant by be shitty looking as well and started to worry. The poorly ventilated elevator did not help my mood as well.

However as we stepped out of the 2nd floor and look at the big sign of the restaurant by a flight of staircase, and see the oriental large wooden door at the main entrance, my mood sudden surged to be more optimitsic. The restaurant was pretty huge even in the darkness, as it was like 4 plus and they were in process of preparation for the dinner crowd. Then at the end of the restaurant were seated an auntie, who is the manager of the place named Serene. Hospitable as she could be, she first brought as to the side ball room which can accomodated 28 tables which is the number we are looking for.
But the entrance of the ballroom looks scrawny at best and the place smells stringly of fresh paint due to renovation and there was divider within the ballroom as well. My lass wasn't a bit impressed as I could tell.
Fortunately she had a spot at the main restaurant which is huge enough to host 57 tables on a good day. We could host our banquet there with the catch that we need to increase to 30 tables for our banquet. After a brief consideration and taking the price into consideration, we felt we might be able to get 2 more tables of guests; the most important aspect is that all 3 of us actually really like the ambience of the restaurant, the food they can offer is splendid on paper and the location is very accessible. The beer would be free flow as well and no corkage fee. There would be a complimentary hotel room (suite) in Hotel Grand Central as well which I wasn't too interested at first but then felt it would convenient just to stay there for that dinner night and if we wanted to basks in the luxury of other hotels, we could always proceed upon checking out the following day.

Out of the blue, we enquired what if take the lunch slot for that day. The enuiry was met by very positive resoponse from Serene who was enthused enough to throw in a lot of goodies just for us to take the afternoon slot which is pretty popular nowadays. As it been on a Sunday, it would be advantageous for the guests to finish the banquet and make it back early to prepare for work or school the following day. We are also given the main restaurant this time even we have only 28 tables just because we take the afternoon slot. So it was a well deal struck on both sides with all the positivity and an accomodating spirits in the air and I immediately made the reservation and placed the deposit (which was a fraction of that I had to pay in Tung Lok by the way).

We left, feeling very satisfied, after managed to get this big agenda settled, we can have all the time we could to plan for other affairs. Most importantly the bride seems happy enough.

I dropped by La Tendo for a while after that before galloping to Holiday Inn by 7 plus where the likes of Wenhe, Weiyao, Angela and Benny were seen sitting comfortably by the main lobby area. We were later joined by Yonghan (known as Weng Hon in NUS Sci Fac and more affectionately as Ang Mo Kio back in our SR days due to his secondary school affliation) and Guozhong.

We first seen Weiliang he was dressed in this oversize swallow-tail suit and I immediately teased him to park my car at the main entrance as I thought he looked a bit like a valet. Of course, knowing his nature, he took it light-heartedly despite he is the star of the night.

The bride looked really young, much younger-looking than my lass and was actually quite surprised to know that she was the same age as all of us before recounting the fact that she and Weiliang were JC friends before the latter braced up enough courage to woo her after their schooling days. And finally it bore fruit as the happy couple completed holy matrimony on this night.

Our table was joined by a couple whom actually was Peipei and his husband who look years our senior with that moustache, stern and staunch look the whole night and the gold watch of course; only to be shocked once more when Angela told us that he was actually Peipei's secondary schoolmate whom had been together on and off over the years before they settled down years back.

The banquet started pretty late by around 9 after the couple graced the red carpet and the crew danced their way with the opening cold dish and our appetite was slightly thwarted when a round belly Indian chef came dancing in, caressing his tummy along the way and went around the guests, beckoning them feel the well-impregnated abdomen as well with Guozhong beside me kept bugging with the question is the tummy real.. Oh yes they danced Macarena as well which is 8 years out of fashion...don't they play "Dragostea din tei" these days?

There was a video showing the morning procession of Weiliang off to pick his bride from the ladies' manor only to be played like a puppet on a string by the bride's army of "sisters". He was let off easy when only asked to wear a red undie as well as singing by the door of the bride. But we felt the video was a bit too long as they should have just show excerpts of everything. Which struck me whether in my case when my banquet is held in the afternoon that I have the time to get the video done.
The music was blasting all along as well as we were seated beside the only speaker of the entire ballroom which supposed to deliver the music to the entire crowd to the suffering of those beside it as we could barely talked to each other. The songs repertoire was the usual "At the beginning" from Richard Marx and Donna Lewis, "Because you love me" by Celine Dion and "From this moment" by Shania Twain. I was hoping to dish out some J-pop tunes in my own wedding which i feel may not be well taken by many of my guests who don't share the same taste as myself...

By the end of the night all of us were well full as we were eating the share of 10 with Boon Seng didn't made it and Peipei and hubby left halfway through.

We then made a final congrats to the family and the newly-weds and wished him all the best especially for the "long" night ahead.
I got a lift from Yonghan who lived in Ang Mo Kio naturally and made me ponder seriously that I should invite this group of friends whom I had maintained a close relationship for so many years, as I did not include them in the first place.
Japanese word of the day: 遅い~o-so-i~(late) Knowing the nature of guests attending Chinese wedding banquet, you would be glad even 5 of them made it on time stated on the invitation card.


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