Deathless Tiki Tacky

Kitsch is cool again at Trader Vic's

Trader Vic's does those things that you would expect them to—won ton soup, butterfly prawns in panko crumbs, salad of baby greens and Javanese dressing—with aplomb. But there's a little kitsch-less sophisticate sass too. Scottish salmon in chive butter sauce is lithe and fearlessly pink, the sections crumbling off the fillet hunk, glistening before dissipating on the tongue.

Here's more: Big eye tuna poke. This couldn't have been pawned off to the Elvis hula crowd a few decades ago. A peak of red raw tuna with avocado and flecks of foliage is finely chopped, cool and rich. No hints of sinew or errant pockets of inferior meat threaten here. Its glue is a lithe soy-ponzu sauce that breathes a punchy brine layer into the meat without thumping its essence into impotence.

A competent filet mignon topped with grilled onions from the wood-fired oven ("natural smoke and heat is derived from split, seasoned wood," we're reminded) is served over a rippled berm of wasabi-whipped mashed potatoes. Macadamia-nut-crusted red snapper (the evening's Alaskan halibut stunt double) was sweet and moist. Indonesian barbecue rack of lamb on a bed of curry noodles sewn with bok choy and other stuff absorbed quite a bit of that split seasoned smoke. The meat itself, though, was disappointing, fatty and sinewy, tough here and there before going tender and then returning to tough. It comes with a grilled pineapple slice.

Don Ho may be dead, but his legend lives on in Trader Vic's barbecue roasted duck breast and crispy duck confit spring roll with tart cherry-ginger sauce.
Tom Jenkins
Don Ho may be dead, but his legend lives on in Trader Vic's barbecue roasted duck breast and crispy duck confit spring roll with tart cherry-ginger sauce.

Location Info

Map

Trader Vic's

5330 E. Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX 75206

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Details

Cosmo tidbits for two$16

Beef cho-cho$9

Big eye tuna poke$13

Trader Vic's salad$9

Won ton soup$7

Crispy duck$25

Macadamia nut snapper$26

Filet mignon$29

Scottish salmon$25

Lamb$33

Snowballs$6

Fritters$6

Closed Location

The dining room bustles, not quite to the point of irritation but close. Servers somehow weave and bob through the ruckus, sifting out requests, dispensing suggestions and offering tips such as the best way to roll mu-shu pancakes (put the meat in the middle) and to sear beef cho-cho (let it hiss). But blunders do creep in. Creamed spinach was delivered instead of the requested sautéed. Plates are cleared while eating is in progress.

For dessert you can chew banana fritters or suck snowballs (vanilla scoops topped with coconut and chocolate), but it's better to grab another mai tai or rummage through a hot rum cow (milk, vanilla, rum and cane sugar). Rum is the best finish.

Don Ho is dead. Long live Trader Vic's. 5330 E. Mockingbird Lane, 214-823-0600. Open 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 4 p.m.-12 a.m. Friday and Saturday. $$$.

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