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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Tonga Hut, North Hollywood, CA (bar)
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Tonga Hut, North Hollywood, CA (bar)
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 28, 2002
Posts: 712
From: santa monica
Posted: 2007-01-08 04:27 am   Permalink

Tikibars, I was calling myself a dumbass for listening to the review and missing out on the place, not you!!. Sorry for the improper english.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3836
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2007-01-11 12:05 am   Permalink

TwT, the transformation of the Tonga Hut is amazing.
You gotta go!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 28, 2002
Posts: 712
From: santa monica
Posted: 2007-01-13 08:33 am   Permalink

We will be back there again, my wife loved the mai-tai's.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3836
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2007-02-18 12:46 pm   Permalink

I went one week early to check it out on a regular Saturday night and by 11:30, it was completely packed. Good to see.

[ This Message was edited by: christiki295 2007-02-18 12:52 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3836
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2007-02-18 12:50 pm   Permalink


[i]On 2006-09-18 15:26, Ojaitimo wrote:

So good to see the fountain working again, after all these years.

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 20, 2006
Posts: 24
Posted: 2007-02-24 08:39 am   Permalink

Hey Everybody! We have our first official website up (not a MySpace page)! Check us out at www.TongaHut.com. We just launched yesterday and will be adding more content and photos of our events. Get ready for your close-up; we'll be taking lots of photos tonight at our first Tiki Night featuring Atomikitty behind the bar and DJ Lee behind the turntables.

If you would like to contribute photos please email me at tongahut@gmail.com. Please make sure to include your name so we can give you credit.



Ana aka Mulatiki

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 17, 2005
Posts: 113
From: Sandy Eggo, CA
Posted: 2007-04-09 10:31 am   Permalink

Went to Tonga Hut for the first time last Saturday night and I gotta say I love this place. It was a slow Easter weekend night but even on a slow night the vibe is swell. Outside of some drunk betties playing the entire Tom Jones and Killers albums back to back the music was an eclectic mix that fit the crowd. The decor has just enough dive left in it to suit my tastes along with its vintage tiki stylings. The fountain behind the bar is incredible - my wife is pissed that it gave me more ideas for the home lounge.

Had a chance to visit with the bartender - I'm such a schmuck I forgot his name already...Trevor maybe - and he was a stand up guy - Made a mean drink and took the time to chat with our table. I wanna pick this bar up and move it to Sandy Eggo - you local kids are lucky.
|< | |\| [- '|' | |< |

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Sep 07, 2005
Posts: 19
From: Hollyweird
Posted: 2007-08-04 8:31 pm   Permalink

Having finally gotten my arse over to Tonga Hut, I must repeat some of the others' comments.

I just my head in the place a long time ago, maybe 7 or 10 years ago, and it was a stone dump. The tiki element was severely neglected.

Having gone last Saturday, I can say that the new owners have done a great job restoring the place to its former glory. 1000% improvement.

Everyone in L.A. should head over to this place once in a while and give the owners your well-deserved support.

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Tiki Lew
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 12, 2008
Posts: 26
Posted: 2008-01-12 10:53 pm   Permalink

Wow! I was in LA on vacation this week and went to the Tonga Hut for the first time. Absolutely loved it. Great decor, very laid back, and incredible jukebox. Tried 4 of the 15 or so Tropical drinks on the menu and all were great. It looked as if most of the other 10 or 12 patrons there were regulars, all drinking beer and highballs, but the bartender (Megan?) whipped out the tiki drinks like a real pro. My only points of reference are the Honolulu in Virginia and a couple of Trader Vic's, but Tonga Hut fit my vision of what a tiki bar should be.

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Joined: Mar 22, 2008
Posts: 10
Posted: 2008-03-25 1:54 pm   Permalink

Tonga Hut

The Tonga Hut cocktail lounge located on Victory Boulevard (east of Atoll Street) is one of the few remaining relics from the late 1950’s Polynesian craze. Have you noticed Tiki is “in” again? Even Martha Stewart has a chapter in her book on “Throwing a Tiki Party.” Finding the Tonga Hut is like discovering a rare jewel. Like the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, it has Tiki carvings, masks, and artifacts from every far-flung archipelago. The bar’s facade features a huge Easter Island head carving (moai). And yes, there are objects from the Kingdom of Tonga, including an antique tapa cloth fan and the royal coat of arms of Tonga. Similar to an authentic Polynesian hut, the walls are covered in woven mats, while the ceiling is covered in bamboo. And that’s not all—there are waterfalls, dart boards, and of all things a stuffed CROW--the emblematic bird of prophecy with power to foresee the future. These original Tiki cocktail lounges are becoming rare, and the Tonga Hut is like ground zero of Polynesian pop culture. It should be preserved as a historical monument. As Mr. Otto von Stroheim, publisher of Tiki News says, “When you go to a place like the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood, you’ll notice details like the hand-made lighting fixtures, a kidney-shaped dropped ceiling—the place is artistic and it was all built by the owners.” Go on in—order a Zombie and enjoy the ambiance.
Tonga Hut, 12808 Victory Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91606, (818) 769-0708

The Polynesian kingdom of Tonga consists of a chain of 171 islands, 45 of which are inhabited. Tonga’s total land area is 290 square miles with a population of just over 100,000. According to the U.S. census of 2000, over 12,000 Tongans live in California. Tongatapu is the main island in the group, on which the capital city Nuku’alofa is located. The Kingdom is located west of Tahiti and northeast of New Zealand, bringing the chain near the international dateline. Tonga is one of the few remaining constitutional monarchies and the only county in the South Pacific never to have been colonized by a foreign power. Tonga accomplished this great feat by building an impressive royal palace and when various foreign dignitaries arrived, they found the King of Tonga dressed like the King of England. Tonga was left untouched. That is why many traditional art forms and rituals remain intact. His Majesty the King of Tonga Taufa’ahau Tupou IV is an impressive man. He holds the Guinness world record as the world’s fattest ruler, tipping the scales at 462 pounds. He is also the only king that surfs. He has a custom 12-foot surfboard made in Hawaii. His Majesty prefers the waves of ‘Eueiki Island, three miles east of Tongatapu, comparing the surf to Waikiki.

The traditional Tongan hut is called a fale. The oval-shaped hut’s average size is 30 feet long, 20 feet wide and 12 feet high. The thatched roof is made of woven coconut palm leaves (‘ato) supported by posts (pou) set slightly under the eaves. The fale’s sides are made of overlapping plaited coconut fiber mats resembling large Venetian blinds. The floor, raised approximately one foot off the ground, is made of well-trampled earth. It is often covered by a loose layer of dried grass and flowers, then topped with fine mats. The underside of the roof is decorated with colorful, beautifully woven coconut fiber. Spears, tools, household utensils, and ritual objects are hung from the rafters. The hut has two low doors at opposite sides to let the breeze flow through the structure. (I am very fond of the Tongan fale, as I stayed in one when I went to Tonga to have an audience with the King.)

In Tonga, a bar is called a fale kava. The traditional narcotic drink of Tonga is kava, made from the roots of the pepper shrub (Piper methysticum). The psychoactive effects of the beverage include a pleasurable numbing of the lips, a quiet friendly lethargy, then euphoria, followed by drowsiness, stupor, and sleep. Overindulgence causes slurred speech, lack of coordination in leg muscles, red watery eyes, and bad skin. (Sound familiar?) But there is no hangover from partaking of kava! In the traditional kava ceremony held in a large fale, participants sit in a kava ring (‘alofi), with the high chief at one end of the oval, and individuals on his right and left seated in progressively decreasing status. Directly opposite the chief in the middle sits the kava mixer, who prepares the drink with a flourish of aesthetically pleasing arm and wrist movements—regarded as an art form in Tonga. The server calls out the name of the participants in order of rank, who in turn clap their hands two times, then gulp down the tingling, mud-gray liquid. Among world dignitaries who have participated in the kava ceremony are President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Hilary Rodham Clinton, and His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Early missionaries to Polynesia called kava “the brew of demons” and banned its use. Don’t get too excited about the kava herb, as the intoxicating qualities of the narcotic are only produced in kava made the ancient way—with virgin girls masticating the fresh root and spitting out the wad mixed with their saliva. It is the salivary enzymes that activate the psychoactive compounds (kavalactone) in the root, producing a fully intoxicating substance. In modern times kava is produced in a dry powdery form available in your health food section. I take kava capsules as a sleep aid. It’s known to increase REM sleep, and I’ve had many vivid dreams lately. By the way, kava is also effective in treating gonorrhea and diarrhea, and has been used as a contraceptive and an abortive.

The Tonga Hut cocktail lounge is similar to a Tongan fale in several ways. Both have walls and ceilings decorated with finely woven mats. Each has front and back doors situated opposite each other. Each is a place to drink intoxicating beverages—in Tonga they drink Piper methysticum, in the U.S. they traditionally consume alcohol. In the kava ceremony, the kava mixer uses elaborate gestures to prepare the kava, while in the States bartenders often have a certain charisma and use skillful, stylistic embellishments. In Polynesia, kava drinking involves much ritual, requiring strict seating arrangements, and in our bars “regulars” have their own favorite perches. In Polynesia they sit in a kava circle, while in North Hollywood they sit around the kidney-shaped bar. ALOHA! Or in Tongan, ‘ALU A!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11594
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-03-25 2:01 pm   Permalink

Right on, Jeffrey! If the Tonga Hut would have a full scale illustrated cocktail menu, this would make the perfect menu back text! I can see it now, framed by a border of Polynesian and nautical icons!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 3192
From: Las Vegas, NV
Posted: 2008-05-15 9:26 pm   Permalink

Hopefully Inky and I can squeeze in another visit here this weekend! It is ZAZZ!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 18, 2007
Posts: 216
Posted: 2008-07-13 07:49 am   Permalink

Okay -- first of all, I gotta say right up front that I usually LOVE this place. I mean, drinks-wise, it's not the Ti, but, hey -- what IS, except the Mai Kai and perhaps the new(ish) Forbidden Island? Still, the current owners (I've met Ana, and she's super) have done a wonderful job with the place these last couple (few?) years, and I've had some great times there.

The decor is now terrific and the regular bartenders are pretty darn wonderful. Also, the music usually isn't too bad, depending, of course, on who's making the selections. But the juke has a decent selection of classic Exotica, so it's really your own fault if ya don't put your own two (or more) cents in!

Anyway, last Sunday night I found myself in the neighborhood after a film-shoot and stopped in once again...

I wish I hadn't.

Normally the vibe, while not strictly Tiki (unless there's a tiki-related event there), does have a pleasant hipster/old neighborhood element, and I usually feel welcome and at ease. But this time I found myself in some very strange company indeed, of the sort usually found in the seedier/rougher sections of downtown L.A. or Hollywood. And I was soon being regaled by crude and embarrassingly phrased descriptions of one patron's description of his -- now HER -- transsexual surgery, interrupted by periodic, gravelly-voiced admissions by this same patron of "Man, I am SO stoned!" (Thanks for sharing your great secret, I thought, but remained silent.)

And the other customers were no more enjoyable to be around, though another very drunk fellow, seated on my other side, and at least making an effort to be convivial, insisted on droning on and on about how he'd managed to grow up without really being aware of Bob Dylan and now felt like an idiot. (And this revelatory sentiment took him a looonnng time to express.) And the remaining customers were simply classic, highly intoxicated, "don't-screw-with-me" bad-asses.

And then the poor bartender... I don't remember her name (she only started there recently), but she deserves a MEDAL -- not for her mixology, unfortunately -- but for her TOLERANCE. I found myself wincing on her behalf, again and again, as she gamely fielded various crudely sexist remarks from the exclusively -- or, in one case, formerly -- male customers, and tried to seem pleasant and unruffled nonetheless. (I remember she had some friends due to arrive soon and clearly couldn't WAIT. Gee, I wonder why?)

Now, normally -- especially since it wasn't crowded -- I would have just taken my drink to one of the nicely dark n' cozy leather booths and finished my drink in relative peace. But since a third of the nasty concoction was the most I could force myself to choke down, I simply gave the bartender a tip and made a speedy exit, making an excuse about not wanting to be too buzzed to drive.

Wow... My experience that night just shows A) what a huge difference a particular crowd can make on a given night to the overall vibe of a lounge/bar, and B) what a difference a bartender experienced with tropicals can make.

To be fair, I'm sure this new girl will learn, given a little time, and she didn't have all the ingredients she needed that night, either. Megan, who's a particular Tonga fave of mine, is more than happy to mix up another for me, free of charge, if the particular drink I ordered didn't come out as expected. Very cool. And it's very possible this newest Tonga-tender might have done the same. But I just didn't want to chance making waves that night or adding more tension to the poor girl's already hefty dose of it!

So I can only say this was a very off night for The Tonga Hut, and not at all typical of my many previous experiences there. In fact, I had a very similar experience with The Purple Orchid one rainy night a while back. And I have come to this particular conclusion: Brand New Bartender + Creepy Crowd = Bad News.

But here's to the GOOD TIMES at The Tonga, in the past AND in the FUTURE!

[ This Message was edited by: KreepyTiki 2008-07-13 10:11 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 17, 2008
Posts: 798
From: Satellite Beach, FL
Posted: 2008-07-13 09:26 am   Permalink

I forget the new bartender's name too, but she sure gets an A for effort from me. I think I was there a week ago on Wednesday evening. She was trying to make some drinks via The Book, but The Book had a few typos. I remember seeing here trying to mix a Rhum Boogie (my favorite drink there) then pausing, "I can't fit all this into a Collins glass!?"

I like people watching, so I prefer sitting in the larger area just next to the front door. I like seeing people enter blindly due to the low lighting. Good times.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 18, 2007
Posts: 216
Posted: 2008-07-13 11:21 am   Permalink

Aloha, Tonga fans!

I just gathered a bunch of shots I took a while back at The Hut & thought I'd share them with my TC Ohana!


Arranging these pics as a front-to-back-door tour, we enter the appropriately darkened space...

...and see, to our left, the Hut's unofficial Moai "doorman", and, next to him, one of the comfortable leather booths with framed tapa backing.

This cheery Cook Island-style denizen is usually near-invisible in the shadowy corner near another booth.

Once again, pardon my flash, but I wanted to capture the details of these leopard-topped stools.

And now, on to the BAR!...

And what a bar it is!

Just feast your eyes on that (now WORKING) fountain!

Pretty, eh?

As are the LIBATIONS!...

And the hard-working & dedicated Bar-Keeps who mix and serve them aren't a bad-lookin' bunch either!...

Say "Aloha" to (from left) Maria, Trevor, and Megan!

And now, here's one of their bosses -- the lovely Ana...

...a proud co-owner, with Jeremy, of the TH.

No, that's not Jeremy! That's Eddy, the not-actually-as-mean-as-he-looks Bouncer! (No "Beauty And The Beast" jokes, please!) And see that colorful FOUNTAIN there, behind him?...

Well, it'd sure be nice if they finally got THAT one workin' too, eh?

And so we exit through the Hut's back door and find ourselves, once more, in the drably prosaic San Fernando Valley night.

Wanna go back inside for another round of tropical magic?...

Me too!!! See ya inside!...


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