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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki JOHN-O's Zombie Road Trip...
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JOHN-O's Zombie Road Trip...
JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2689
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2013-11-18 09:45 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-03-21 19:16, JOHN-O wrote:
Just like first wave Tiki bars are a disappearing slice of mid-century Americana, so are Chop Suey restaurants. In Los Angeles for example, most of the 1950's-1960's places have fallen by the wayside, victims of changing tastes in Chinese food. OG places like the Far East Cafe and the New Moon have evolved (devolved really) past their Chop Suey roots and the legendary Man Fook Low is a distant memory.

So for those of you who cherish vintage Chop Suey as much as vintage Tiki (and really shouldn't we all?), here's a couple of surviving places that still figuratively keep the old Chinese lantern burning...

Paul's Kitchen has been around for so long that it's located where the original Los Angeles Chinatown used to be. It's in a seedy area near Skid Row but you will be rewarded with some of the best Pre-Tiki food around. No Chinese kitsch, it's essentially a dumpy 1950's (40's ?) time warp diner...



This is one of Tommy Lasorda's favorite restaurants, they even have a special combo named after him. The clientele is 90% Latino which is always a good sign when seeking out this type of food. Our Hispanic brothers love their pakai, chow mein, and egg foo yung. Also too many Chinese customers is a warning sign that the food may not be authentically inauthentic enough to be good Chop Suey.

The other noteworthy thing about Paul's Kitchen is that they serve two classic Cantonese dishes that are almost impossible to find these days; pressed (almond) duck and hom yu. Pressed duck was an early "Polynesian" staple on Tiki menus. Hom yu (steamed pork hash) really wasn't a Tiki dish but is a cult favorite for China Meshi aficionados.

Another rare place where you can find both pressed duck and hom yu is Chinese Garden in Montebello. It's been owned and run by the same family since 1962.

The restaurant evokes a 1960's modern aesthetic with its large metal framed storefront windows and Formica lunch counter ambiance. Here's the entrance from the parking lot...



And the food? It's probably the closest to what I remember of my beloved Far East Cafe in Little Tokyo . FYI, hom yu is not on the menu but can be served on request. Also you can get the pressed duck with either sweet and sour sauce or brown gravy. Traditionalists will go with the brown gravy.

Wong's Restaurant in Garden Grove also had pressed duck and hom yu, but unfortunately it closed in 2012 (Sorry Lucas Vigor, that would have been local for you).



Remember everyone needs to support their local Tiki bar... AND their local mid-century Chop Suey joint. Who knows how long these places will continue to survive?

Real Tikiphiles eat Chop Suey. Gan Bei !!



A cool
article on Paul's Kitchen.

Thanks CalTiki !!


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2013-11-21 23:09 ]


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mike and marie
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 24, 2008
Posts: 127
Posted: 2013-11-20 4:30 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-11-18 09:45, JOHN-O wrote:
Quote:

On 2013-03-21 19:16, JOHN-O wrote:
Just like first wave Tiki bars are a disappearing slice of mid-century Americana, so are Chop Suey restaurants. In Los Angeles for example, most of the 1950's-1960's places have fallen by the wayside, victims of changing tastes in Chinese food. OG places like the Far East Cafe and the New Moon have evolved (devolved really) past their Chop Suey roots and the legendary Man Fook Low is a distant memory.

So for those of you who cherish vintage Chop Suey as much as vintage Tiki (and really shouldn't we all?), here's a couple of surviving places that still figuratively keep the old Chinese lantern burning...





We almost thought we had an assigment for you. The other day we found this, exhibit A:

and exhibit B:


Exhibit B in particular is a lesson on the fleetingness of fame, because there is almost nothing else online of this "world famous" Chinese and American drive-in restaurant.
One lonely matchbook on eBay, and it's used---otherwise, nada. But someone on a Chowhound thread on Chop Suey joints wondered if China Land was "the foremost exponent." It was taken over by a son, who passed away in 2010. Two other locations remain, not drive-ins but stripmall restaurants called Land of China. Doubtful there is any tiki involved here at all, in any way, although when finding the glass we did think that maybe there was a chance, perhaps an "exotic" drink menu at least, so we searched, but no---just some data for the chop suey thread.




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tikilongbeach
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Aug 05, 2011
Posts: 1302
From: Long Beach, CA via Dallas, TX
Posted: 2013-11-20 5:53 pm   Permalink

3135 Midway in San Diego is now the home of a Discount Tire.

 
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AceExplorer
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 977
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2013-11-20 6:00 pm   Permalink

That's progress, right? I mean, people need tires more than they need tikis, right? Wait - I think that should be the other way around.......

 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2689
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2014-03-20 10:32 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-09-30 17:14, JOHN-O wrote:
I have two major Tiki regrets in life. The first is I didn't make an immediate Tiki pilgrimage to the Kahiki when I first read about it in the Book of Tiki. I blame the Bigbro for getting BOT published so late. ( )

The second is that I didn't frequent the original Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills beyond my sole visit there in the 1990's. From Santa Monica, it really wasn't that far. Now it's too late. (And for that I have no one to blame but myself. )

Now I know that some Tikiphiles here took the closing of the restaurant personally. The way I see it, the closure of the original joint wasn't so much a slight against Tiki as it was the demise of "Old Hollywood". It's now in good company with other extinct dinosaurs like Chasen's, Perino's, and Scandia. That's life in L.A. I guess. (I am however prepared to lie in front of the bulldozers should my beloved Musso & Frank ever be threatened.)

We do however have the Trader Vic's Lounge to enjoy.



While some dismiss the place as not really being that Tiki, I see the Tiki mug as being half full. I can appreciate it for the following...

It's still housed at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, a place that carries its own mid-century historical street cred. The Beverly Hilton was Conrad Hilton's showcase hotel back in 1953 and has been the annual home for the Golden Globe awards since 1961. Although renovated, I can still get a sense of those Hollywood ghosts.

Also the lounge is located right at the pool and is surrounded by the original low-rise rooms. It's a pretty groovy environment to enjoy a Tropical cocktail on a warm summer night.



Also the Lounge contains some of the half-century old remnants from the original location.







One of those "remnants" even happens to be one of the bartenders. We're talking about an old-school Filipino Tiki bartender !! He'll mix you up one of the best Mai Tais you'll ever enjoy.

Well let me qualify that actually. One of the best Mai Tais you'll ever enjoy... at a Trader Vic's.

The biggest issue I have with TV in this New Cocktailian age is that the Trader Vic's brand well rum is not that good. The presentation of the cocktails is excellent but when you have that first sip, it's not going to change your life. What's merely a good Mai Tai (at best) should really be a great Mai Tai. And the Mai Tai at the BH Lounge ain't cheap. It was $14 !! Compare that cost to the one of the best classic Mai Tais I've had which was at Forbidden Island. FI's Mai Tai is only $9. Oh well, I guess that's the price of (brand) history.

So while the Beverly Hill Trader Vic's Lounge isn't a place I'd fly across the country to visit, it is a significant place to detour if you're in the immediate vicinity. And why not make it part of historic Beverly Hills twofer? It's less than a mile away from Nate N' Al's...



Have a corned beef on rye in a classic Jewish deli (since 1945) and then wash it down afterward with a Vic's Navy Grog inside a mid-century luxury hotel lounge. There's not many places where you can do that.



Having (had) 2 Trader Vic's in Los Angeles is just like having 2 ears, 2 eyes, or 2 kidneys.

If you lose one then you still have an extra to survive on !!

Don't forget we still have "The Lounge".

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2014-03-20 10:36 ]


 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 1045
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2014-03-20 9:34 pm   Permalink

Nice post John-0.
Gracias


 
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Big Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 11, 2007
Posts: 2325
From: SoMass
Posted: 2014-03-21 4:47 pm   Permalink

I'm up for a two-fer, this year, John-O!

 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2014-03-21 9:51 pm   Permalink

Trader Vics Lounge is excellent.

 
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SoCal Savage
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 20, 2013
Posts: 173
From: Los Angeles via Brooklyn NYC
Posted: 2014-03-21 10:21 pm   Permalink

I only got to the original Trader Vicks once when I first moved to SoCal. I actually didn't know this lounge existed. Thanks John O for bumping your own post. I'm going to have to check it out now.

 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2014-03-25 07:38 am   Permalink

A Trader Vics Lounge back from 2007, when it first opened.
Glad TVL has withstood the test of time.

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=23970&forum=1&hilite=trader%20vics%20lounge


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TropicDrinkBoy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 27, 2011
Posts: 273
Posted: 2014-03-25 6:07 pm   Permalink

In reference to JOHN-O's old post, it's not because of the Trader Vic's brand that the drink prices are high at TVL, it's Beverly Hills! At Emeryville during Happy Hour the Mai Tai's are $6 and $10 otherwise. Before the recent menu revamp they were $5 and $9 respectively.

[ This Message was edited by: TropicDrinkBoy 2014-03-25 18:08 ]


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2689
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2014-03-25 6:26 pm   Permalink

I was at the B.H. Lounge last Wed.

1 Navy Grog, 2 Old Fashioneds, 1 Seafood Fried Rice, plus tip set me back a cool C-Note.

That did seem pretty expensive.


 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2014-05-30 9:15 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2014-03-25 18:26, JOHN-O wrote:
I was at the B.H. Lounge last Wed.

1 Navy Grog, 2 Old Fashioneds, 1 Seafood Fried Rice, plus tip set me back a cool C-Note.

That did seem pretty expensive.



I was planning on going back this summer, but dayam.


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 5979
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2014-05-30 10:17 pm   Permalink

John's a good tipper....

 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2014-06-01 5:58 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2014-05-30 22:17, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
John's a good tipper....



Of course he is.

The TV Lounge does have the incredible pool-side patio and great lighting, although the canopy room may be for special occasions.


 
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