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Emeryville dining: A report on Trader Vics

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I posted a request for ideas for dining near that Emeryville peninsula near the Bay Bridge. I got a lot of good ideas, but Mr. Nutrax wanted to go to Trader Vic's for nostalgic reasons. Summary: great view, great service, and, uh, they also have food.

They get full marks for service, especially for service to someone in a wheelchair. One of the valets knew exactly how to assist someone to go from car to wheelchair & wheeled Mr. N right in. The hostess did something very courteous & very unusual--she asked if he would use his wheelchair or transfer to one of theirs. She gave us a choice of two tables. At the end of the evening, she moved chairs out of our way & held doors open.

Dinner service was generally very good if a bit leisurely. But it looked like most customers wanted leisurely. The thing to do seems to be to order a big, fruity drink and a combo appetizer plate to enjoy while perusing the menu. The head waiter took one look at us, correctly figured out we were wine-by-the-glass folks and steered us to that part of the drink menu. Not too bad a list.

We had the egg roll appetizer, which turned out to be the best thing we ordered. One giant egg roll, cut in pieces. Very crispy, not greasy, tasty filling. It came with two pedestrian sauces, which seemed to be served with every appetizer--Ye Olde Chinese Restaurant Hot Mustard and something that tasted like a mixture of ketchup & hoisin sauce.

I wanted to try the Bongo Bongo soup, which I had long heard of. It was described as "Veloute of fresh oysters and spinach glazed with cream." It was pretty awful. An unnatural green with little oyster flavor, served in a cute ceramic clam shell. Cream had been poured on top & "glazed" meant "burnt black under a broiler." Mr. N. had the soup du jour, clam chowder. It was very good, thick & creamy with lots of clams.

His "Prawns San Francisco" were OK, if a bit overcooked, but nothing special. I had one of the specials, smoked mong chong. The fish was pretty good, but the accompanying roasted kabocha hadn't spend enough time being roasted. The eggplant with yuzu sauce was dreadful--all you could taste was seriously strong citrus.

We split a cheesecake for dessert. After what we had eaten, we figured we'd avoid any dessert that had a tropical theme. It was a not bad NY style cheesecake with a few fresh raspberries.

But we had a good time anyway. Surroundings were nice, view was great, service attentive, and overall a generally good vibe.

We ate early. By the time we left, the bar was full of folks having those foofy drinks and generally winding down on a Friday night. They looked like they were having a good, but not rowdy, time.

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