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After opening its first chain in Shanghai early this year, Trader Vic's brought its equatorial ambiance, international fusion specialties and world-famous tropical drinks to Beijing last week.

Founded by the legendary Vitor Jules Bergeron in 1937 in Oakland, California, Trader Vic's has since opened more than 30 stores in 22 cities, including London, Tokyo, Dubai and Bangkok. In 1983, its San Francisco branch became the first commercial restaurant visited by the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II. It is said that a former US president established a hotline with the restaurant to order its famous cocktails.

Located on the third floor of CITIC Tower at Jianwai SOHO, the eatery is filled with unique, handcrafted Tikis and other such souvenirs. It is a perfect place to sample tropical delights and exotic delicacies.

Chef Teoh, who has worked with Trader Vic's for seven years, prepares a unique menu inspired by European, Polynesian and Chinese cuisines. Among the best of his specialties are exquisite wok selections and wood-fired oven delights, the history of which can be traced to China's Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). Meats are slowly roasted in this large, red, drum-shaped oven, which is exhibited in a glass room at the restaurant's innermost corner. Signature dishes include Polynesian specialties, such as fresh and tender beef steaks, and wood-fired, oven-roasted dishes.

A world-recognized tropical cocktail expert, Trader Vic's has a unique drink list featuring more than 80 original concoctions. Over the past 60 years, the restaurant has inherited a tradition of keeping ingredients' purity and original flavors. Its Mai Tai bar, named after its most-famous, almond-scented cocktail, can comfortably seat 75 people.

The 850-square-meter eatery has a bar and a stage in the middle of its dining area, as well as two private rooms. The Cuban band Cubana Sons, comprised of one man and three women, gives fervent vocal performances on evenings, enhancing the South Pacific island vibe.

Trader Vic's

Opening hours: Lunch 11:30AM-2:30PM, dinner 6-11:30PM. Bar from 11PM-1AM.
Location: 3/F, Unit C, CITIC Tower, 6 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District. tel: 010-8567-9789

(Beijing Weekend December 24, 2007)

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