Trader Vic’s, the international chain of restaurants that serves Polynesian food, has opened in Bangalore. Launched on 14 September at the Phoenix Marketcity mall on Whitefield Road, it’s been brought to India by JSM Corporation Pvt. Ltd, formed by partners Jay Singh and Sanjay Mahtani, who run the Hard Rock Café chain and Shiro restaurants. “The menu for India has more vegetarian options and spicy dishes that one might not find in international outlets,” says Singh. JSM has opened its first Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge, a cocktail lounge, in Orion Mall, Bangalore, and will open a second one in High Street Phoenix, Mumbai, in October. Half of the 4,000 sq. ft lounge will be open-air. A third Mai Tai Lounge will open in Mumbai in the next 12 months.
The good stuff
We were welcomed into the wood-panelled restaurant, decorated with tiki statues in most corners, by an enthusiastic staff eager to fill tables at lunchtime on a weekday. I started with Tom Cha soup, a coconut lime broth with chilli, eggplant and tofu. It was spicy and tangy but also soothing. The salad with bacon, egg, spinach and potato in a soy wasabi dressing was crisp and refreshing.
The restaurant has a wood-fired oven in which meats and vegetables are smoked, so we ordered the Chai-infused duck. Served with a sherry-ginger reduction, green beans and Asian rice cake, the duck meat was tough and more than enough for one person. There is a detailed cocktail menu, including several rum-based drinks. The service is quick and gaps between courses were plugged by lavash bread with some fresh peanut and lime sauce.
The restaurant has an outdoor section that seems promising for alfresco dining.
The staff tends to be overbearing at times in its enthusiasm to please. The menu mentions that vegetarians should check with the restaurant for more options but our waiter only pointed to the dishes already on the menu. The music isn’t loud or overwhelming but, strangely, has fusion band Karunesh playing at a Polynesian joint.
The Indonesian vegetable satay, red onions, bell peppers, tofu and tomato smoked on skewers, and served with a corn potato cake, was served only slightly warm, leaving the corn potato cakes chewy and tough to eat.
The menu lists everything from Thai curries to sandwiches, which can be a bit confusing.
A meal for two without alcohol cost Rs.1,900 after taxes. Cocktails are priced at Rs.450-750 and will add a big chunk to the bill.
Trader Vic’s, Second floor, Phoenix Marketcity, Mahadevapura, Bangalore.