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Trader Vic's Tokyo
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2011
Posts: 66
Posted: 2013-11-09 01:16 am   Permalink

Well, I'm sad to report that TV Tokyo's long-time general manager, Larry Murakami, has left the company...

Larry's final day was 10/31/13 and his departure is sure to leave a void.

The reason Larry had to step down is because he reached the New Otani Hotel's mandatory retirement age of 60... (If any of you have ever met Larry, he looks and acts much younger than that.)

I'm not privy to any more details, but apparently if he had continued, it would have set a precedent with the hotel which they obviously didn't want to deal with.

There are bound to be changes to the restaurant now that Larry's gone. He championed things like classic Trader Vic's recipes, as well as special seasonal events (like the amazing Cinco de Mayo brunches in May and June), so the new manager will need to be on his toes if he wants to balance the classic and the modern as well as Larry did it for more than 20 years.

Most of the decorations that the restaurant was decked out in for the holidays were Larry's own, so with him gone, things are sure to be less colorful and festive from a visual standpoint.

The New Otani Hotel also used Larry's departure to make changes to the staff, and some of the long-time waiters and waitresses have been reassigned to other areas of the hotel.

I'm very leery of how things will play out at TVT now that Larry is gone.

Most American restaurants that open branches in Japan will sooner or later adapt their menus to Japanese tastes - often becoming nothing like their US counterparts, apart from the name.

I've seen this play out countless times before, and I just hope that TVT bucks the trend and continues to offer the same food I occasionally crave and can only get there.

[ This Message was edited by: Michelle66 2013-11-09 01:17 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Michelle66 2013-11-09 01:17 ]

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fez monkey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 10, 2006
Posts: 205
From: San Francisco Bay Area
Posted: 2013-11-15 7:47 pm   Permalink

That's a shame. He's a nice guy and was always happy to talk about TV's. It was clear that is more than just a job to him.

- fm

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 8205
From: Las Vegas
Posted: 2014-02-19 5:30 pm   Permalink

Found this postcard today

Worst sound ever, slurp of an empty tiki mug through my straw!!!

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 05, 2011
Posts: 66
Posted: 2014-03-08 06:21 am   Permalink

As you can see from an earlier post, Larry Murakami (Trader Vic's Tokyo GM for more than 20 years) left the company at the end of October.

While I have missed Larry, the food and atmosphere at TVT is still top-notch.

This past Thursday night I dropped by for the first time is about a month, and met their brand new general manager!

His name is Karim Belgnaoui, and he's been working at Trader Vic's locations around the world for the past 18 years.

We chatted for a little bit and he's very friendly and warm. I think TVT is in good hands.

TVT has also started a new promotion that is an AMAZING deal - Tiki Hour!

Tiki Hour is TVT's new happy hour promotion and runs from 4:00pm to 7:00pm Monday through Saturday (until at least July 31).

For 2,400 yen, you get a cocktail (any one from the menu!), plus a Cosmo Tidbits for one (pork strip, pork rib, fried shrimp, crab rangoon).

Some of the cocktails go for upwards of 2,000 yen each, so the promotion is a great way to save some money in light of the new increase to Japan's consumption tax.

Karim also told me that their is an upcoming Senior Pico's lunch special that will begin in May, so I'm looking forward to that as well.

BTW, the Sakura Mai Tai is now available again! This delicious concoction is only made in March and April, so I suppose the next two months are going to see me eat lots of Cosmo Tidbits as I enjoy Trader Vic's springtime cocktails.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1115
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2014-05-18 11:28 pm   Permalink

Hadn't looked at this thread in a long time, but it's great to see how current it is, especially with all the great updates from Michelle66 - thanks for all the pics you've posted! Fun to see all the seasonal stuff and the spirit there.

In April we had a return visit to the Tokyo Vics and had a great time. They've got the chinese ovens (my favorite!), they've got the bar and the drinks, and they've got the hospitality! Talked to the new manager Karim while we were there (more below), and apparently Tokyo Vics is coming up on its 40th anniversary. He mentioned plans for Vics VIPs coming to town for that celebration, including Claudette from the Emeryville location. I took a ton of decor photos, so I'll post some here, but most of the views may have been covered already.

We got there kinda late in the evening, this is the New Otani from the outside as we came up.

The New Otani has two towers; Vics is in the Garden Tower.

Entrance off the elevator.

Starting down the hallway, looking back toward the entrance.

Continuing along, the Boathouse Bar is just around this corner.

Looking back to where we came into the bar area.

Other side of the jade tiles, in the actual Boathouse Bar.

Starting down the hallway to the dining area, and looking back at the bar.

I think that's the Puka Room on the left, and the Menehune Room further down.

Friendly staff girl said hello, curious about all the pics I was taking.

Inside the Menehune Room, looking out across the hall to the chinese ovens.

Outside the Menehune Room, and its lattice dividers.

We ate in the Captain Cook Room - this is looking out from there to the main dining area with its amazing shell chandelier.

Eastern Sour - east meets west!

One of our favorites Vics traditions the Coffee Grog, presented spectacularly!

After dinner, took some more pics. This is in the main dining room looking back toward the Captain Cook Room.

Heading back down the hall toward the bar, Menehune Room on the right again.

Puka Room again.

In the bar area, the general manager Karim Belgnaoui warmly introduced himself when I was loitering around with the camera. Absolute pleasure talking to him - lots of interesting info about the Tokyo Vics, and also other locations where he's worked before and visited. The gentleman he was with popped up and offered to take pics of us with my camera.

Arigato, kampai, and we'll be back again!! This dinner was the capper on our last night in Japan for this trip, and it was fantastic!


(ps - if any mods are looking, I wasn't sure whether to post in this thread or the less active
Locating thread, maybe merge them?)

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3691
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2014-05-18 11:34 pm   Permalink

Oh my goodness, it's heaven. Thank you for these pictures!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 07, 2012
Posts: 838
From: The base of the Volcano
Posted: 2014-05-19 05:34 am   Permalink

A nice photo collection!

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Bora Boris
Mr. Unreasonable

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2617
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2014-05-19 06:16 am   Permalink

You always post fantastic pictures Randy, please travel more often.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 10, 2004
Posts: 4093
From: Reseda, calif.
Posted: 2014-05-19 07:13 am   Permalink

Nice pictures, love the coffee grog pictures, nice place.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 20, 2008
Posts: 320
From: Port Saint Lucie, FL
Posted: 2014-05-19 08:15 am   Permalink

Cool pics! The Coffee Grog pics are awesome! I always wondered what the insurance company thinks when the establishment states: "Oh yeah....we're also going to be slinging flaming liquids from one container to another inside the restaurant. There's no problem with that....right?"


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1115
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2014-05-19 10:15 am   Permalink

Thanks for the comments, yep it was heavenly! The coffee grog is always a great finish to a Trader Vics meal - we order one on almost every visit to the Emeryville Vics. This one in Tokyo was presented by the bartender, and he really knew how to make the most of it!

Forgot to mention, also about the manager Karim. He knows about TikiCentral and this crowd, so by all means if any readers get a chance to visit, ask if Karim is around, and have a chat! They're so welcoming there that it's pretty hard to have just an "anonymous" visit anyway. Like with one of our waiters - after he heard we were from CA, he told us a story about his vacation where he drove on PCH down the coast from SF to LA.


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Const Tiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 36
From: Portland, Oregon
Posted: 2014-05-19 10:24 am   Permalink

Fantastic pictures! I almost felt like I was at the old Chicago Trader Vic's in the Palmer House. Did you happen to take any pictures of the Gun-Ship Restaurant at the New Otani? I've only seen one picture of the place, but it looked awfully nice.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11605
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2014-05-19 10:35 am   Permalink

Wow…now THAT'S how they all should look! Love that slender Marquesan Tiki at the entrance in the first pic.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1115
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2014-05-20 09:29 am   Permalink

We didn't see the Gun-Ship Restaurant at the New Otani, but it's amazing how many restaurants, cafes, lounges and bars they have! Check out the list on the right on this page (which has a link for the Gun-Ship with a pic), and also that snapshot of part of the directory.

They've got rooftop panoramic dining, fancy french, two kinds of nautical, etc. Last time we were there, we visited the garden too, which is also nice (and 400 years old, according to the website).

We did walk by the Garden Lounge on the way to Vics. Nice mural, and probably a great view of the garden during the day.

Maybe Michelle66 will have more to add, being a more regular customer!

Speaking of which, there's some great stuff earlier in this thread. F'rinstance...

On 2012-02-11 03:00, Michelle66 wrote:

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

I can't tell for sure if that mask server object is the same thing, but it looks similar to the one on the old Vics cookbook (pic borrowed from a search). Maybe a lot of branches use those and I just never noticed, but anyway, looks cool (and the mole sauce sounds great).

On 2012-03-05 17:29, fez monkey posted some great pics, plus this one:

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.

That's another preparation you don't see so often in person. Maybe it's a pain to make. Over on the crypto mugs thread some of us had been trying to figure out a menu image from Delmonico's, that ended up resembling this too (plus a pineapple top). That was cleared up when DC posted a similar image of the Iceberg from the Shangri-La in Chicago. Just another example of how the lineage of these drink preparations spread over the whole world. And also an indicator of just how old-school the Tokyo Vics is about going the extra mile for a nice presentation!


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 1506
From: Honolulu Lounge,Lewes, DE
Posted: 2014-05-21 10:24 pm   Permalink

Awesome pictures, I, too, was reminded of the old Chicago Vics. Very classy.

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