Trader Vic's Is An Institution In Bangkok, Thailand
Along with these other establishments is Trader Vic's. Started in Oakland, California in 1934 with a borrowed $500, the Hinky Dink restaurant and Victor Bergeron had, by 1937, both changed names -- Victor to Trader Vic and the restaurant to Trader Vic's. The difference with Trader Vic's, however, is that different locations began to spring up, all combining the right mixture of good times, good grog and good food. The 18 or so present locations range from Tokyo to Munich to Bangkok with eight in the U.S. Bangkok's Trader Vic's, the only one in Thailand, is located at the beautiful Marriot Royal Garden Riverside Hotel on the west banks of the Chao Phraya River.
The incredibly dark interior of the restaurant and Polynesian motif decorating scheme mimic all the other Trader Vic's and make it impossible to tell exactly what city you're in once you pass through the doors. Here, of course, you can look out at the river which flows by about 10 meters from the floor to ceiling windows. Inside the room, however, the atmosphere is definitely South Sea islands, from the food menu to the exotic drinks list to the outrigger canoes and sailing ships forming part of the interior design.
The food offerings are a study in diversity as are the libations. However, the simple classics are also given the right amount of attention as well as would be expected at any "institution." For example, that classic drink, the martini, butchered unmercifully at many of Bangkok's leading hotels, is here prepared just the way it was intended to be, with just the right portions, straight up and, as requested, with two olives. Any restaurant that truly aspires to the role of "institution" must mix a proper martini, as any civilized person will tell you.
Another example is the Caesar Salad, subjected to countless indignities at the hands of nouvelle poseurs and other less informed food purveyors who insist on throwing everything into the bowl that isn't nailed down. The Caesar here was close to perfection (an abstraction that is never achieved) and true to its roots: just the right amount of anchovy and mustard to make the dressing tangy and flavorful on top of greens and croutons and prepared tableside, something few places bother with anymore.
Why so much space on two seemingly minor menu items? Because if you don't get the basics right, chances are, nothing else will be quite right either. And here the basies are done right and the rest of the menu selections that were made were also done right. Nothing on the large menu is tremendously complex, whether it's a good old American steak or one of the more esoteric Polynesian dishes, but everything tastes good and there's something for everyone, whether you're a meat lover, vegetarian or a seafood fan. Cosmo's Tidbits to start With, a variety of BBQ items and sizzling prawns, followed by Bongo Bongo, a cream soup of oysters and spinach were both delicious and were followed by the aforementioned Caesar and then Jamaican Pork and Phuket Lobster. Both were flavorful, well presented and satisfying.
Indeed, satisfying is a great word to describe Trader Vic's. The people here have done a wonderful job of duplicating the ambiance and overall feel of Trader Vic's and have created what could and should, become a Bangkok institution. We'll be back!
See http://bangkokdining.ning.com/profiles/blog/list for info on Bangkok restaurants.