Would you believe that the concept of fusion cuisine stretches all the way back to California in 1934? Pioneering, globetrotting American trader Victor Bergeron kicked off the trend by introducing Chinese and European dishes at his cozy saloon, wowing customers with vibrant new tastes and flavors that – along with creative rum cocktails, including the original Mai Tai – would come to be the signature drawcard of his restaurant. Named Trader Vic’s, the eatery began as a tiki-bedecked tropical haven inspired by Bergeron’s travels to Cuba and Hawaii and has grown to include 20 branches around the world, with the first in Asia opening its doors in 1974.
In Tokyo, Trader Vic’s is tucked away on the fourth floor of Hotel New Otani Tokyo, transporting hotel guests and casual visitors alike from the daily grind to an island paradise (with a hint of local atmosphere thanks to the view of the hotel’s 400-year-old Japanese garden down below). Here are five reasons to visit…
1. Decadent Tropical Decor
Exotic is the key word here. Surrounded by Polynesian artifacts, your dining experience at Trader Vic’s Tokyo is quite unlike any other in the city. In fact, to ensure the island theme is as authentic as possible, the brand calls on anthropology experts to scour the globe and curate the handmade items – from a Tonga tapa cloth to a chandelier made of seashells and a shark jawbone – that together create a fascinating backdrop.
2. Fine, Free-Spirited Cuisine
Just how do they create such rich, juicy, grilled Eastern and Western dishes? The magic happens inside the large Chinese wood-fired oven, which has its roots in the Han Dynasty and is found in every Trader Vic’s around the world (although only the Tokyo branch has a kiln with a height of two meters!). We recommend the Sparkling Brunch Buffet, a sumptuous mix of international cuisines with monthly changing themes and free-flowing sparkling wine. The buffet is held on Sundays, holidays and the last Saturday of the month (note: on these days, there are no lunch hours and the bar opens at 15:30).
3. 80-plus Original Cocktails
Clearly at the forefront of cocktail mixology, Bergeron earned a place in history when, in 1944, he combined 17-year-old Jamaican Rum with lime, rock candy syrup, orange curaçao and French Orgeat and created the now trademarked original Mai Tai. Every other cocktail on the expansive menu served at Trader Vic’s Boathouse Bar was developed by The Trader, too.
4. The Warm Welcome
Adding the finishing touch to your lunch or dinner is the superb service led by general manager Karim Belgnaoui and executive chef Masato Hamada, both of whom encapsulate the worldly, pioneering spirit of Trader Vic’s. In Hamada’s hands, the menu stays true to the brand’s DNA while being subtly enhanced by the Japanese sensibility.
5. TW Reader Offer: One Free Cocktail
Need one more reason to visit? Mention Tokyo Weekender while dining here and you’ll receive one free cocktail (non-alcoholic options available).
Open Mon-Sun: Lunch: 11:30-14:30 (LO), Dinner: 17:30-21:30 (LO),
Bar: 11:30-23:30 (LO), Happy Hour: 17:00-19:30
Please note details and hours are subject to change due to the coronavirus outbreak. For the latest info, see our website or call the restaurant.