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Trader Vic's Tokyo
Michelle66
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2011
Posts: 65
Posted: 2011-12-23 06:15 am   Permalink

Well....'tis the season for Trader Vic's Tokyo to get gussied up in its holiday finery!

And today was the first of three special Christmas brunches which feature live Hawaiian music and dancing - in addition to all of the delicious food and drink.

The nicest thing was being able to get some sense of the holiday spirit that is usually missing from the way Christmas is celebrated here.

Christmas Day (December 25th) is not a national holiday in Japan. (But, December 23rd - the current emperor's birthday - is.)

Japan is not a Christian country, so Christmas is celebrated quite differently than in other countries. Stores have seasonal decorations and play Christmas music. But come December 26th, all of it will be gone as the Japanese gear up for New Year's, which is the most important holiday here (and it lasts for a few days).

The usual customs Japanese folks have adopted for Christmas (actually Christmas Eve) are eating "Christmas Cake" (often white Cake with strawberries on top), eating chicken (with LONG lines going out the door at KFC), and even couples taking in special dinner shows at fancy hotels on the 24th.

So, even though the image of Christmas is here in Japan, it's often hard to catch any true feeling of Christmas spirit.

But, you can get that feeling at TV's, and here's a report.

As you step out of the elevator, a big Christmas Tree greets you at the entrance:


This is the poster advertising today's festivities:


Here's a poster for the upcoming New Year's special. (The tiki is now sans the witch's hat he had on for Halloween!):


A bigger shot of the tree:


Today being a national holiday, the restaurant was PACKED! It was busier than I'd ever seen it before. You even had to wait in line at the different buffet tables.

The staff had warned me long ago that the 23rd would be crowded, so I was able to reserve a nice U-shaped booth in a small alcove. It gave me a different vantage point than what I was used to, but with the scent of the Chinese oven in the air, it sure was cozy.


The counter above my booth's sofa had some thin Santas:


..and this too:


Tried a Honi-Honi for the first time today. (Nice, but I think I prefer rum to bourbon.):


Today's special live Hawaiian music soon started, with the musicians standing next to the alcove my table was in (hence the less-than-ideal pics).






If you'd like to hear how it sounded, I switched on my iPhone's voice recorder and captured about six minutes of the performance. You can download the audio file here:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=R739MYKW (It's not the highest fidelity, but it will give you a taste of the nice atmosphere TV's had today! )

Some of the seasonal decorations:










Well, all good things must eventually end, and the end of my most wonderful meal were these cute and yummy Christmas cookies! (Yes, COOKIES! [I've never been able to get into Christmas cake...]):


Here are some Christmas Menehunes wishing everyone the most happiest of holidays!


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fez monkey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 10, 2006
Posts: 205
From: San Francisco Bay Area
Posted: 2011-12-23 9:54 pm   Permalink

Nice photos as always.

Christmas in Japan (like a lot of things) does lose a bit in the translation doesn't it? It'a all part of the weird charm. It's good that you've found an oasis.

- fm


 
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Michelle66
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2011
Posts: 65
Posted: 2012-02-11 03:00 am   Permalink

Today was a national holiday in Japan, so there was a rare Saturday brunch at TV's.

And since Valentine's Day is fast approaching, the restaurant is currently dressed up with decorations and the brunch had some nice surprises (which I'll get to in a minute). (Unfortunately, I forgot my digital camera today, so all I had was an iPhone to take pictures with.)

Here's the entrance as it looked today:


This is an old-school tiki I don't think I've photographed before:


And a mask:


Larry, TVT's GM, loves to add special dishes to each brunch that are themed to the season. Since chocolate is the most-popular gift for Valentine's Day in Japan, today's brunch featured a VERY delicious Mexican chicken mole. (Larry is from San Diego, so he likes to celebrate the cuisine of Mexico quite often.)

I had never had a mole sauce before, so I was a bit apprehensive. (For me, chocolate sauce meant something to pour out of a can with "Hershey's" written on it...) By chance, the head chef was standing at the table when I was looking at the various foods and he cajoled me into trying the special dish.

He then explained how to prepare one, and I when I ate it I was stunned at how good it was!

Definitely not Hershey's syrup!

And definitely my favorite dish at today's brunch! (I ended up eating four of them!)

Here's the chicken mole station - with chicken covered in chocolate mole sauce, toppings, and steamed flour tortillas:



Another standout special dish today was a pork dumpling soup. The dumplings' filling tasted like the pork-based Peking Ravioli/pot-sticker filling served at Chinese/Polynesian restaurants in the USA, not the cabbage-based "gyoza" filling served everywhere in Japan. Fresh cilantro was available to add as well.

If you happen to be in Tokyo right now, get to Trader Vic's for tomorrow's (2/12) brunch. The chicken mole and pork dumpling soup were amazing! (Everything else was great too.)

Another positive development in Japan is it looks like Lemon Hart demerara rum is being imported again! So, Trader Vic's will soon be able to go back to the original recipes for drinks that call for Lemon Hart (like "Navy Grog", "Tiki Puka Puka", and other favorites).

In fact, as I was on the train heading to the brunch, I got a call from my local liquor store to tell me the bottle of 151 I had ordered was in.

And here it is - new label and all:


This is great news because sellers at Yahoo Japan Auctions were trying to get upwards of $100 per bottle of dead-stock Lemon Hart 151. (Maybe a "Hell In The Pacific" would be a great way to celebrate Lemon Hart's re-availability here...)



 
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Wayfarer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2009
Posts: 329
From: Japan
Posted: 2012-02-12 03:12 am   Permalink

Visiting Trader Vic's is now on my To Do list for my visit to Japan this spring.
_________________

"I could be a professional writer if I put my mind to it. A bitter, angry hack that starts fistfights at cocktail parties- I could do that job."
-Daria M.


 
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fez monkey
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Joined: Jul 10, 2006
Posts: 205
From: San Francisco Bay Area
Posted: 2012-03-05 5:29 pm   Permalink

Last time I was in Tokyo I had an inadequate camera and lens which was very limiting. Equipped with better gear this time, I strove to take some pics that do this place justice. This is one of the nicer existing Trader Vic's in my opinion as it has kept the old-school feel. It reminds me a lot of the Munich location in that way.

The first pic is a special setup in the foyer to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Tokyo's gift of 3,000 Sakura (Cherry Blossom) trees to Washington D.C. I have memories of when I used to attend the annual Cherry Blossom parade in D.C. back when I was in high school. Special menu items and brunches will be part of the commemoration.




The secret party rooms. Okay, maybe not secret per se but I had never seen them before and they generally aren't visible when you walk in. I guess private is a better word.






It's strawberry season in Japan and many establishments have strawberry-themed specials. Trader Vic's has this great strawberry mojito in an ice cone right now. The wife really enjoyed it.





A number of photos that explore the elaborate decor. Note: every one of these was done hand-held without a flash.



































Sure, it's pricey eating here but it's hard to get this experience anywhere else and every other restaurant in the New Otani is just as expensive if not more. The crowd at this hotel is typically well-heeled and the parking garage reflects that as it is full of Mercedes, Porsches, and the occasional Bently or Ferrari. The beef they use, even for their burgers, is Japanese grade A4. This is above USDA Prime. So, you get what you pay for in the food department.

- fm



 
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Wayfarer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2009
Posts: 329
From: Japan
Posted: 2012-04-29 09:23 am   Permalink

Just had an amazing meal there! Spent $200 and it was worth every cent of it! I shared mai tai with a non-drinking friend who really enjoyed it despite his usual disdain for booze and even though it wasn't out on the menu or out front they made me a sakura mai tai (which is 300 yen cheaper than a regular mai tai), thanks Michelle66 for posting about that. Both drinks exceeded my expectations and the food even had my friend, a gourmet chef himself who always nitpicks, happy and complaintless. Without a doubt one of the top two meals I've ever had, the other was from One Harbour Road in Hongkong.



It's finally happened- Mai Tai in Trader Vic's!
(I live on a small island in the middle of nowhere, getting to a TV is hard to do)

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[ This Message was edited by: Wayfarer 2012-04-29 18:23 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11602
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-04-29 10:51 am   Permalink

Wow, that and fezmonkey's stunning photos prior really make one gonna go! Not that I had any other reason why I would wanna be in Tokyo...

 
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forgotten tikiman
Deleted

Joined: Aug 18, 2011
Posts: 0
Posted: 2012-04-29 3:35 pm   Permalink

Awesome!!!!! Great photos. Place looks great.

    
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fez monkey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 10, 2006
Posts: 205
From: San Francisco Bay Area
Posted: 2012-04-29 5:23 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the compliments on the photography folks. It's much appreciated and provides incentive for me to do more of the same.
I don't make mugs or paint so this is my way of contributing.

[I just wish it were easier to upload photos to TikiCentral. Multi-image uploading would be exceptional and allow me to share a lot more imagery.]

- fm


 
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Michelle66
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2011
Posts: 65
Posted: 2012-05-01 04:46 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2012-04-29 09:23, Wayfarer wrote:
Just had an amazing meal there! Spent $200 and it was worth every cent of it! I shared mai tai with a non-drinking friend who really enjoyed it despite his usual disdain for booze and even though it wasn't out on the menu or out front they made me a sakura mai tai (which is 300 yen cheaper than a regular mai tai), thanks Michelle66 for posting about that. Both drinks exceeded my expectations and the food even had my friend, a gourmet chef himself who always nitpicks, happy and complaintless. Without a doubt one of the top two meals I've ever had, the other was from One Harbour Road in Hongkong.



Glad you had such a great time! (I can see you've got a Sakura Mai Tai in one of the pics! Since they're only served from 3/1-4/30, you lucked out!)

And speaking of the Sakura Mai Tai, last year I tried making one at home and it was a disaster...

But, I tried again last night, and got it right! So, for those of you who'd like to try one of these things, here's the recipe (straight from TVT):

1.5oz Bacardi Superior white rum
1oz Dover Sakura Liqueur
1oz cranberry juice (I use Del Monte 20%, which is generally what liquor stores sell here.)
3/4oz fresh lime juice
1/2oz sugar syrup
2 shiso leaves (1 for the cocktail, and 1 for the garnish)
2 cups of crushed ice

TVT uses Bacardi Superior for this cocktail, so I recommend the same. Last year, I tried using Havana Club 3-year, which ruined the drink as its rather strong flavor totally overpowered the sakura liqueur.

Be sure to mince one shiso leaf until it's almost a paste. (Really chop the heck out of it!)

Also, prepare this drink in a blender. The blender will evenly distribute the tiny pieces of shiso throughout the crushed ice. (I used a shaker last year which resulted in a mess, with bits of shiso stuck all over the place. (5 seconds is a enough to mix the drink.)

Garnish with the second shiso leaf, lime shell, and a fruit stick.


Here's what you need!

And the finished drink (There should be a chunk of pineapple on the stick, but I was all out.):




Enjoy one at home today!


 
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Vince Martini
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Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 277
From: Iki Pohaku, Arkansas
Posted: 2012-05-01 09:16 am   Permalink

Great pics! The Japanese do everything with such a zeal for style!!!

 
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Wayfarer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2009
Posts: 329
From: Japan
Posted: 2012-05-02 01:34 am   Permalink

Thanks for the recipe! When I asked about it the bartender mentioned the ingredients but wouldn't say how to make it. I look forward to making one if I can find sakura liquer on Guam. (Fat chance, if it's not Bud Light Guam doesn't want it.)

We're going back tomorrow to try the burgers on the lunch menu, and of course more crab rangoons (my friend is still talking about them) and another round of cocktails for me.
_________________

"I could be a professional writer if I put my mind to it. A bitter, angry hack that starts fistfights at cocktail parties- I could do that job."
-Daria M.


 
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Michelle66
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2011
Posts: 65
Posted: 2012-05-02 5:27 pm   Permalink

There probably won't be a lunch menu tomorrow, as it's a national holiday and TVT will be having one of their amazing brunches.

You really should try to make the brunch. Fantastic food and lots of it!


 
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Wayfarer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2009
Posts: 329
From: Japan
Posted: 2012-05-05 12:27 am   Permalink

We did the brunch Thursday (Thank you Golden Week!), originally planning to drop by for burgers and more rangoons since my buddy couldn't get their flavor out of his head. The meats floored him, said it was the best roast beef he'd ever had, which as a fourth generation gourmet made him need to call his parents the next morning to inform them that the impossible had happened and he'd found a better roast beef than his father's. I thought the lvie music and Hawaiian dancing was a nice touch.
_________________

"I could be a professional writer if I put my mind to it. A bitter, angry hack that starts fistfights at cocktail parties- I could do that job."
-Daria M.


 
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Michelle66
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2011
Posts: 65
Posted: 2012-07-28 06:45 am   Permalink

Well, the dog days of summer have arrived in Japan, so it's really HOT and humid here right now...

Just the excuse to visit Trader Vic's Tokyo!

I went there today as I was craving the shrimp fritters that are part of a four-course ladies lunch special the restaurant is now offering. (And for those folks saddled with a "Y" chromosome ( ), you can still get the lunch, but at a slightly increased price.) (Many hotels in Japan offer special lunch deals for women in order to lure in groups of ladies who like to dine together. This type of promotion is quite common here.)

Instead of eating in the main dining room, I decided to sit at my favorite table in the bar area and look out at the trees:


Since I planned to do some shopping in crowded Shinjuku after lunch, my cocktail today was the high-octane "Tiki Puka Puka":


The first course is a bowl of wonton soup, which I forgot to photograph until it was half gone... (guess the 151-proof rum had started to work its magic on me!) The soup has bamboo strips, water chestnuts, slivers of pork, and a meaty wonton dumpling. It's REALLY good!:


Up next is a green salad that's covered with TV's delicious Javanese dressing!:


The main course is a special plate with four different items:
1. Two big shrimp fritters that are covered in sweet chili sauce and fresh cilantro. (It's soooo good!)
2. Chicken, onions, snow peas, water chestnuts, (and usually shiitake mushrooms, which I have them hold), all inside a small crunchy cup. (Another delicious favorite!)
3. Fried rice
4. Steamed veggies.
(It's hard to judge scale in the picture, but the plate is quite massive. The portion size is more than enough(IMO).


Dessert is mango sherbet and coffee:


The price for this meal is 2800 yen for women, or 3500 yen for men. (The lunch special is available Monday through Saturday.)

For the service and the quality of the food, it's really a great deal! (Those shrimp fritters will keep me going back again and again!)



 
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