Flavours of fun
Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge serves up a delectable selection of culinary treats and is perfect for a night out with friends
By David Light
Published: Sat 16 Aug 2008, 2:14 PM
Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:50 PM
OVER HERE in Dubai mention Trader Vic’s and one does not automatically think of food. This is different in Abu Dhabi where an ample dining space is provided but at Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge in the Al Fatan Towers in the marina tell people the fact that food is served and you are often greeted with surprised hums and a raise of the eyebrows.
Yet serve up culinary treats they do so your intrepid ‘foodie’ went down on a weekday evening to check out the Polynesian themed establishment to see what they could surprise me with.
Upon entering the Mai Tai Lounge I was surprised by how busy it was. As far as I knowTuesday isn’t the new Thursday but you would be forgiven for making the mistake of thinking it was the weekend. Led through the after work set by the manager I sat at a table in the fair sized dining area. Tables range from intimate two seaters to ten seaters for groups. If one were to have a bit of a knees up there would be ample space. The atmosphere is very typical of a themed bar/restaurant.
Every effort has been made to transport the diner to a far off land where the music plays long into the night. In some aspects the Mai Tai Lounge has succeeded. The resident band and DJ play on alternative nights from 8pm until late seven days a week. The restaurant tends to go a little overboard with the names of its drinks and the decor giving it a Disney Land type of vibe but these do not detract a substantial amount from the experience.
Gazing down the, it has to be said, modest selection of dishes on offer it appears the Lounge is going for quality over quantity. One half of the menu contained sharing dishes which dining alone put them out of play. I was therefore left with the selection of about six meals.
Among them were some gems such as the teriyaki NewYork steak but having tried that in another eatery I decided to go for the crusted saku tuna with sesame peppercorn and rice cakes. As my meal was being prepared the old drinks list emerged.
For once I was not driving and having had a particularly long day decided to indulge.
In what seemed only a few minutes my meal appeared. A wellbalanced, generous portion of tuna and rice cakes greeted me and on the first bite I was won over. The fish was perfect as were the cakes. An unusual blend of flavours, there was definitely more than a hint of lime which gave just enough tartness to the sweet sesame. The tuna was fresh that day and perfectly textured to make a mouth-watering concoction along with the doughy rice cakes. At the end of the meal I felt like I had discovered something new which is always a bonus when dining in a restaurant for the first time. I had just enough room for dessert so opted for the Mai Tai cheese cake, a selection of slices of cheesecake with different fruits on top. Unlike the mains the desserts were a tad generic and when the cheesecake emerged it could be summed up simply with the word, rich. I like strong flavour so it suited me but I could see the creaminess putting others off.
I can’t be too critical of the food because it was very well prepared and came speedily. The service was impeccable and the staff very friendly and attentive. I can only take issue with the amount on offer for a place that touts itself as a restaurant.
The menu falls short of other places in the area.
However, as I previously uttered the bar section is the biggest draw for most customers which makes the food an accompaniment to the liquid half of your diet. If this is the case the menu serves very well.
Verdict: Great food if you fancy one of the dishes on offer but don’t expect to be bowled over with the selection.
Most likely you will share the bar bites with friends and enjoy the drinks and entertainment. A great place to head down to with your mates but not suitable for an anniversary.