Anniversary Dinner

I mentioned previously that Mr. K and I recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Of course we wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion.

We’ve actually known how we wanted to celebrate it since our wedding day.

I draw a lot of inspiration from Cathy of gastronomy blog. A few years ago, she shared a post on how she and her husband celebrated their first anniversary: revisiting their wedding reception restaurant and ordering their banquet menu again just for the two of them. I thought the idea was crazy and brilliant and I secretly wanted to do just that. When I showed the post to Mr. K, he just thought it was crazy.

Fast forward to the day of our banquet. Mr. K had never experienced a Chinese wedding banquet and it was the one thing I really insisted we have even though it took up a significant chunk of our budget. Well, he enjoyed the banquet so much that he whispered to me in the middle of it that he wanted to relive it again. I immediately knew he was thinking of the gastronomer’s post.

So one year later and we both agreed that we still wanted to do it. Now, in some ways it’s not completely insane. We didn’t actually order a banquet. We just ordered the majority of the dishes served during our banquet which is also available on the regular menu, in normal family sharing entree portions rather than the feast portions served during a banquet.

Still, it was a lot of food, especially for two people, and we actually were barely able to make a dent into our meal. But we had a lot of leftovers to enjoy for a few days. As a reminder, here is a summary of our wedding banquet.

We skipped the traditional cold plate appetizer that we had served our guests during the wedding banquet.

Stuffed Crab Claws

A regular order comes with only two crab claws, which was just perfect for us. I don’t think the photo shows just how large these crab claws are. They are handmade and stuffed with shrimp. They take a while to make, so these actually arrived near the end of our meal.

Seafood Vegetable Soup

We had a crab meat seafood soup at our wedding. We decided to try the seafood vegetable one this time, but we didn’t like it as much. Next time we’ll go back to the crab meat seafood soup.

Cubed Filet Mignon

For the wedding, this was served in a bird’s nest. I really liked the tender chunks of filet mignon. I did miss the nice presentation from the wedding and the meat was a little too salty.

Sauteed Broccoli and fish fillet

The next banquet dish was a mushroom and vegetable dish that we decided to change because Mr. K didn’t like the bitter vegetable in it. Instead, we ordered a broccoli and sauteed fish fillet.

Scallion Lobster (skipped)

We had been all set on getting this one again, but we found the market price for the lobster to be too high. Also the live lobsters they had were all enormous and so the dish would have cost more than I was willing to pay. Since the opening of H Mart, they often have lobster on sale for $6.99/lb and Pearl was charging $28 per pound. We joked that we should go buy our own and ask if they can cook it for us.

Garlic Roasted Chicken

This was exactly how I remembered. We loved the crispy skin, though the meat is a tad too salty.

The next dish was supposed to be the Tea Smoked Chilean Sea Bass. We had barely tasted this at our wedding and our guests raved about it, so we were really looking forward to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunately, this dish needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance which we didn’t know. Next time.

Seafood Fried Rice

This looks sad compared to the presentation I remembered from our wedding, but it tasted better than it looked.

Mango Pudding

Once again, our meal ended on a sweet note with mango pudding.

We had fun reliving our wedding reception again and this time getting so many leftovers to take home. Without realizing it, we ended up with a meal of seven dishes, which is a lucky number for us. Despite eating a ton, it looked like we barely made a dent. I captured this photo which was a little more than halfway into our meal.

Obviously the entrees lacked the presentation from our wedding banquet. The dishes also were not executed nearly as well as our banquet, which is something I was afraid of. The manager had explained to us when we were planning our wedding that it’s a completely different set of kitchen tools and staff for wedding banquet food, and it definitely shows. I’ve always enjoyed Pearl’s food and it’s pretty good compared to other San Diego options, but pales in comparison to what can be found in LA or the South Bay Area. When we had the banquet, I thought the food had been just as good as any other banquet I’ve experienced in the US, but the food for our anniversary meal was more of the ordinary Pearl experience. Nevertheless, it was a memorable way to spend our first anniversary.

Afterwards, we defrosted the first tier from our wedding cake and dug in. Surprisingly, the cake had held up quite well. We were worried, as we’ve never eaten something after having it in the freezer for a year. The cake tasted quite good and not at all like it had been sitting in the freezer for a year.

If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear what others did for their first anniversary!

Pearl Chinese Cuisine
11666 Avena Pl
San Diego, CA 92128
(858) 487-3388

16 comments on “Anniversary Dinner”

  1. Wow, it’s been over a year already? Time sure does fly. Happy Anniversary to the both of you!

    • Thanks Kirk! Yes it does go quickly! I just met up with someone who I hadn’t seen since before our wedding and she was actually congratulating us on getting married–not realizing it had already been over a year!

  2. That’s such a cool idea and sounds like a lot of fun! I’ve always wondered how that “freeze the cake for a year” thing went. Glad to hear the cake still tasted good after all that time. Congrats again on your first year 🙂

    • I never gave the cake much thought until we were able to eat it. Then Mr. K said “do you think it still tastes good?” And I thought about it for the first time. And then I made him eat it first. Lol. But yeah, actually tasted just fine

  3. Wow – 1 year already!? I still remember your beautiful engagement photos from Taiwan! I think it’s awesome you guys ordered all that food – left overs are underrated 🙂

  4. Happy Anniversary, guys! To many, many more happy years.

  5. How lovely that you were able to recreate your wedding banquet meal! 🙂 Once again, congratulations on your first anniversary!

    As for our first anniversary, we went on a road trip to the Bay Area. We had our anniversary dinner (and dessert) at the Tonga Room at the Fairmont in San Francisco (We didn’t stay at the hotel though!). The restaurant has a “fake rain” and “thunder” feature and a band that played on a floating platform. It was pretty fun and cheesy. Our dessert was a chocolate treasure box filled with tiny chocolates and berries.

  6. For our first anniversary, I cooked for my husband — chicken parmesan, spaghetti, garlic bread. I’d like to be able to say that we had a vegetable, but I’m pretty sure that back then, I was still “side dish challenged” (as I used to call it).

    I worked M-F, 8-5 and he worked nights, weekends, and holidays. So for us to be together for dinner was special in and of itself.

    And we, too, had the defrosted top tier of our wedding cake. It was actually really good — moist and sweet.

    We’re about to celebrate 18 years this fall. If I cook, this time, we’ll have a vegetable!!!

    • Aw, how sweet! Thanks for sharing. That must have been tough with those opposite schedules. Happy almost 18 years!

  7. Happy anniversary to the both of you!
    Your post got me thinking how often I would have the Chinese banquet style dinner if I were to live near my family in Hong Kong. And that would be once to twice per month. Now I’m really missing it, both the food and the company.
    For our one-year anniversary, we went on a Baja Mexico cruise. It was especially fun because it was my first cruise experience. Hubby and I were stuck together 24/7 for 5 days on the ship lol.

    • Oh, cruise is one of the things we considered! Mr. K has never been on a cruise. I’ve only been once when I was really young and I loved it. We hope to go soon on one. These big meals make me miss my family too.

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