A DOWNTOWN TANTILIZING TROPICAL TREAT
Credited with creating the potent, yet extremely tasty, Mai Tai cocktail, you always know you’re in for a festive time whenever you find yourself at Trader Vic’s.
Kitschy in 2010, Trader Vic’s style was all the rage during the Tiki culture fad of the ‘50s and ‘60s in the popular chain’s heyday. Loaded with Polynesian artifacts, unique cocktails and exotic cuisine, our recent night out at the L.A. LIVE Trader Vic’s proved sensational and extremely satisfying.
Voted the 2010 OpenTable.com Diners’ Chose Winner, you just can’t venture to Trader Vic’s without sampling at least one Mai Tai rum cocktail. And special to the L.A. LIVE location is the signature Big Kahuna with its light rums blended with fresh fruit juices, passion fruit, grenadine and brandy. Tasty, but you’re better off sticking with the classic Mai Tai. They’ve been making them since 1944 and there’s a reason why it’s the world’s most popular rum drink.
Trader Vic’s four cornerstones are Decor, Food, Drinks and Service, and on the night we visited all four where in fine fashion. With cocktails in hand we started with the Cosmo Tidbits that aptly serves two. A sampling of the Tidbits and Pupus menu, appetizers if you don’t speak Polynesian, it comes with spareribs, crab Rangoon, crispy prawns, and Char Siu pork. It’s a great starter and a good way to sample their most popular appetizers.
We also tried the Beef Cho Cho, seared steak with soy sauce finished on your own flaming hibachi. This is a fun order that lets you get involved as you cook your own meat on skewers over the fire. Extremely savory!
I also need to make mention of the magnificent peanut butter spread that comes with the bread they bring you before you order. Oh my God! It’s reason enough to pay a visit. It’s the most indulgent thing imaginable. Wow, so good. Be careful not to fill up on bread or the spread itself.
For our entrees we opted for the Wasabi Crusted Filet Mignon, cooked in the enormous and impressive wood fire oven, served with Hawaiian spiced fries and smoked Asian ratatouille. The steak is so tender and tasty.
The Miso Sea Bass, another wood fire oven entrée, is prepared with a divine Miso orange glaze, Asian greens, shitake and Yangzhou rice. This is a must order if you’re a fan of seafood. It’s light and delicious, and every bite of the Miso glaze is a wonderful treat to the taste buds.
If that wasn’t enough we just had to order the Signature “All In” Fried Rice prepared with Char Siu pork, BBQ chicken, prawns, poached egg, and crispy shallots. This is another must-have item. It’s hearty, filling and just out of this world. It’s a wonderful meal in itself but I found it just added to the experience with the tantalizing Miso Sea Bass. An excellent combination!
Round Two for cocktails included the Queen’s Park Swizzle, loaded with dark rich rums and tropical fruit, a potent yet palatable drink. This one almost rivals the Mai Tai as a favorite.
The Samoan Fog Cutter, a vase full of rum, gin, brandy and sherry wine with orange juice and orgeat (a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water) was too sweet for my liking. The menu reads “let the drinker beware” (good advice with any drink) but I think you’re better off with a stiff Mai Tai.
Dessert started with a Black Stripe, fine Jamaican rum, honey, crushed cherries and spices served steaming hot. You even get quite the entertaining show at your table as your server prepares the cocktail, rising flames included, right in front of you.
The Chocolate Lave Cake, prepared with mango and pineapple chutney served with almond ice cream is a decadent delight. The Polynesian Snowball, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, toasted coconut and bittersweet chocolate sauce, is also a fine selection but I say you just can’t go wrong with the Chocolate Lava Cake as you might as well go for broke when it comes to the sweets.
Make sure to check out Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3 PM - 6 PM and enjoy a special menu of 5 drinks for under $5 and 6 appetizers for $5 each in the Trader Vic’s tiki-themed lounge.
Offering live music on Friday and Saturday nights, the Polynesian party really gets into high gears on the weekends but with a couple of Mai Tai’s the party will definitely be at your table nonetheless.
Trader Vic’s at L.A. LIVE is located at 800 W. Olympic Blvd. Call 213-785-3330. Open for Lunch Mon – Fri 11AM – 3PM; Saturday at Noon. Happy “Tiki” Hour 3PM – 6PM. Open for Dinner 5PM.