Trader Vic's, Emeryville - what to order?
Fun place with a view of the water. The menu isn't as horrific and dated as I was expecting, but other than the korean beef tacos and Singapore Chili Crab, none of the Asian stuff on the menu seems more modern/uncommon than 90s fusion or PF Changs. 'hounds wouldn't find this place exciting, but I'm sure my folks would love the food. It's certainly not cheap...
= The good =
For $12, I got a trio of small mai tais (mango, pineapple, and guava). Tasty, as were the other drinks I sipped.
Cosmo platter had fried prawns, crab rangoon, BBQ ribs, and char siu pork. Fried prawns were crispy and great. Crab rangoon had real crab (from Maine), and were an order of magnitude better than the fake crab stuff I've eaten elsewhere.
Iceberg Wedge Salad had too much dressing, but otherwise I liked the presentation and the flavors. It came with a thick St. Agur dressing, bacon, toy box tomatoes, and was presented in three groups of lettuce leaves, each arranged into flower-shaped cups.
Maui waui shrimp, were a good version on coconut shrimp.
Soy-glazed pork chop was very good, had a crunchy outside, and subtle smokiness.
= The bad =
From the Cosmo Platter, the ribs were meaty, but more salt and flavor. Char Sui was dry and overpowered with smoke flavor. The mustard dipping sauce was okay, but the reddish brown dipping sauce was bitter from being overcooked and unpalatable.
Volcano shrimp didn't do anything for me, but it was cool to see the dish lined with pea sprouts.
Five spice crispy duck was served with mu shu pancakes (i.e., flour tortillas), and was too dry. Still, it had more moisture than the tea-smoked duck I've had in the Bay Area.
The mu-shu vegetables served underneath the soy-glazed pork chop weren't very exciting. Placing the pork chop slices with them in the accompanied steamed pancakes (i.e. tortillas) and the spicy hoisin peanut sauce was a mistake--- they distract from a pork chop that was good by itself.
I was bummed not to see rumaki on the menu, but maybe Mad Men and the nose-to-tail movement will make them reconsider in a few years.
Thanks but I'm having dinner there and this is specifically why I'm asking as menu expectations are pretty low... Obviously we're not going for the food, but usually these places will do at least one signature dish pretty well, like peking duck or whatever. I don't really want to order tacos at Trader Vic's and we'll also be there later than happy hour.
From about November, 2010, after the remodel, a worthwhile happy hour of (left to right) tuna sliders, mai tai and duck tacos with plum sauce, about $5 each:
The tuna sliders and duck tacos are not on the current online happy hour menu: