Tokyo Cooks

Food & Drink - July 12th, 1985

by Debbie Marcus

You all know Fred Miyake, manager of Trader Vic’s restau­rant and gentleman restaurateur. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that Fred’s father was a gentleman farmer in Colorado. His grandfather originally set­tled the family in the state of Washington. Grandfather and son helped to build the railroad that ran from Washington to Colorado. They both fell in love with Colorado and even­tually settled down there, be­coming confirmed Coloradoans.

Colorado Japanese-Amer­icans were not incarcerated during the war, but Fred was drafted into the Army in 1945 and sent to Japan during the Occupation. He met and married a Tokyo gal during that time. After he got out of the Army, he went into the restau­rant business in California. The famous world-wide restaurant chain. Trader Vic’s, discovered him 25 years ago and he’s been with them ever since, having worked in their San Francisco, Oakland, Kansas City and — for the last 10 years — their Tokyo restaurant which is located in the new tower wing of the New Otani Hotel, 4th floor.

Fred’s head chef Kenji Suzu­ki has been with Trader Vic’s for 11 years, having been trained in Switzerland and then as chef at Trader Vic’s Munich restaurant, located in the famous Bayerischer Hof Hotel. Fred also has three Chinese cooks from Hong Kong and 13 Japanese cooks. Altogether there are 87 employees — and they need all 87 as Trader Vic’s is one of Tokyo’s most popular spots.

One of the most successful parties we have ever attended was held at Trader Vic’s Cabin Room a few months ago. The cost of having a private party at Trader’s is slightly higher than if you held it in your home, but with no red-wine stains and cigarette burns to ruin your carpet, the extra cost is certainly worth it. Besides, you’ll live longer as a result.

There is no charge for the use of the Cabin Room. The price per guest ranges from ¥6,000 for a stand-up cocktail party with appetizers to ¥8,000 per person for a stand up buf­fet dinner. This price includes all drinks!

And when they say all drinks, they mean it. If you are fortunate enough to be invited to a party there — or are smart enough to have a party there, yourself — the Trader Vic’s people start off their parties with mai tais or any drink of your choice and a bevi of appetizers that never stop coming (along with the booze) for a good two-and-a-half hours. The hors d’oeuvres are fabulous:

  • Brown mushrooms in a cream sauce served on small tartelettes
  • Rumakis — chicken livers with water chestnuts
  • Sliced barbecued pork
  • Steak with Malagasy pepper sauce
  • Smoked salmon with capers
  • Jumbo shrimp cocktail
  • Crab Rangoon (crab and cheese won tons)
  • And, last but not least, cheese bings (my all-time weakness!)

Fred and his people do not pre-prepare the food. Every­thing is cooked to order.

We couldn’t wrest the cheese bing recipe from him (it’s a secret and also very difficult, so I don’t want to know any-way), but we did manage to talk him into giving us the recipe for steak with Malagasy pepper and the mushroom tartelettes. That Fred’s a good guy!

This is called Mushroom Tartelettes or

ROMAN BARK

(Lord knows where that name came from)

1 cup dried morel mush­rooms
1 tsp chopped shallots
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cream sauce
Few drops lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 pkg tartelettes or tatoretto in Japanese (miniature pastry shells that can be found in bakeries)

Soak the dried morels for 2-to-2 1/2 hours in water. Rinse to get sand out. Drain and mince. Make sauce, add morels and heat. Spoon into the tartelettes and serve immediately.

MALAGASY PEPPER BUTTER

1/2 lb (225g) butter
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1/4 Tbsp finely chopped tarragon
1/4 Tbsp mustard
1/2 clove minced garlic
1/8 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 jar of Madagascar green pepper. Use the soft peppercorns that are soaked in water (or brine), not the dried ones.
1 egg yolk
Few drops brandy, Worchestershire sauce and lemon juice

Combine all and put on waxed paper. Wrap it up so the roll is about a 1 1/4″-round cylinder. Put in freezer and let it harden. When ready to use, cut in 1/4″ discs.

Grill a sirloin or filet steak or steaks to your taste» then place 2 discs on the steak and put in broiler until melted an browned.

Serve the steak as an entree or cut it into thin strips and serve as an hors d’oeuvre. Re­turn the unused portion of the butter roll to the freezer and keep there until you use it again. Will last a long time this way. This butter roll is enough for about 12 steaks.

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Exotic drinks abound at Hotel New Otani’s Trader Vic’s and their wine list is most impressive. Their wines range anywhere from ¥5,000 a bottle to ¥50,000. Its an extensive —- and expensive! — wine list. Fred’s favorite while wine is Sancerre and this as well as his favorite red, Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, are on the list along with other prized Italian, French, Amer­ican and Australian wines.

Be it mai tai or vino, this home-away-from-home has been an inspiration to many who partake of the delicious drinks served at Trader’s and the superb food that emanates from its kitchens.

The next time you’re there for lunch take a look at the Summer Salad Specials menu. This is a dream for salad lovers and a great meal for this time of the year. The special includes:

•    Assorted appetizers (rumaki, stuffed shrimp, cheese bings)

•    A choice of four salads: The Outrigger Salad, Bengal Seafood Salad, Chicken Hawaiian Salad, Waikiki Salad

•    Coffee or tea

The total price for this deli­cious package runs around ¥3,000.

Also the next time you go to Trader Vic’s ask Fred what his golf score was last Sun­day! Maybe he’ll tell you about his hole-in-one on No. 11 at Tama Hills.

This place is always busy, so if you wish to make a re­servation you can call the restaurant direct at 265-4707/8 or you can go through the New Otani Hotel switchboard at 265-1111, ext. 2491.