Opening Hours 6pm till 12.15am, daily (restaurant) 5pm till 2.30am (Tues-Thurs) & 1.30 a.m. (Fri-Mon), (lounge) 12 noon till 3pm (Saturday lunch)Call Now
Lobby level annex, InterContinental Muscat, Al Kharjiya StreetNearby Landmarks Average Cost
Dinner for two: RO30.1Website
American, European, Mediterranean
We’re located at Lobby level annex, InterContinental Muscat, Al Kharjiya Street. Call in at (+968) 2468-0080
Polynesian powerhouse, Trader Vic’s, at the InterContinental Muscat offers a taste of the South Seas that’s pleasingly palatable if you know what to order.
A Coral Reef, a White Cloud and a Potted Parrot; if visions of tropical islands are running through your head, think again – we’re just scanning the beverage list at Trader Vic’s. This iconic global franchise has been capitalising on the ethos of island life since its first tropical tiki-shack opened in 1934. Known for its authentic island décor and Polynesian vibes ranging from its South Seas-inspired menu, it’s a popular grub-and-grog spot for both the after-work ‘happy hour’crowds and the weekend warriors. It offers up a Saturday brunch and regular theme nights accompanied by live music throughout the week – most recently launching its Rio Meets Muscat Brazilian Food Festival on December 12.
Located in its own annexe next to the lobby level of the main hotel at the InterContinental Muscat, diners can choose to be seated in the bamboo and tiki-inspired indoor bar and restaurant area – replete with a décor of vibrant Polynesian artefacts to add to the island ambience – or on their expansive outdoor terrace that overlooks the pool and gardens.
It’s early on a Thursday night when we arrive, just ahead of the dinner-time weekend rush. Opting to dine al fresco, our hostess, who’s decked out in a Mandarin-collared, Polynesian-patterned dress, leads us through the sleek yet rustic interior to the outdoor terrace where we’re seated at a cozy table adorned with tiki-statue lamps at the far end.
Our waiter is quick to come take our drinks order and fill us in on the evening’s specials and Chef’s selection – a lip-smacking woodfire-grilled rib-eye. Throughout the course of the evening, the service is always prompt (though somewhat hurried) and twice the duty manager passes by to check on us and those dining at the surrounding tables.
We begin with a mouthwatering-sounding starter off their ‘Tidbits and Pupus’ menu – a ‘Cosmo Tidbits’ sharing platter for two – an array of the most popular bites from their selection of appetisers. What arrives is a small platter with its choice morsels artfully arranged and set atop a tealight flame to keep the food warm. There are two butterflied and battered Crispy Prawns, two Crab Rangoon parcels, two Jalapeno Cheese Balls and two chargrilled Lamb Ribs.
We’re absolutely famished and wish there were at least four of everything so we could have two each for the price point. The butterflied shrimp are crispy and sweet but somewhat dry, and need a moreish sauce in which to dip and dunk. For accompaniments, we’re provided with Trader Vic’s own version of ketchup and mustard. The ketchup has a nice chili kick to it but the tomato is overpowering and mixed oddly with the flavour of the seafood – we would have preferred a sweet chili sauce outright. The mustard is inedible – overwhelmed with acidic horseradish, it is eye-watering and masks the flavour of anything
The Crab Rangoon parcels are crunchy on the outside with a silky-smooth centre that is more cream cheese than crustacean – as the delicate sweetness of the crabmeat is lost amid the gloop. The same goes for the Jalapeno Cheese Balls which go cold and gelatinous with no fiery bite from the peppers that we’d anticipated. The best items off the sharing platter are by far the Lamb Ribs, chargrilled to medium-rare perfection; they are juicy and flavourful – massaged with a Polynesian-style spice-rub.
With the starter letting us down, we take our time carefully considering our options for a main course, as around us we see sizzling island-style platters arriving at tables and the scent of spices and grilled meats filling our nostrils. Figuring we should stick to what Trader Vic’s does best – flavourful fusion fare – we opt for a hefty helping from their ‘Wok’ menu and order a platter of Singapore Noodles to share.
Upon arrival the aroma of curry and chargrilled meat wafts up from a heaping helping of delicate curried rice noodles tossed with stir-fried veg, succulent prawns, chicken, and spicy-sweet beef char siu. Snapping our chopsticks, we hungrily dive in, pausing every so often to take a sip from our frothy punch-bowl, which is served in a ceramic tiki canoe with straws half-a-metre-long.
The noodles are toothsome and delicate and the flavour profile complex. The beautiful thing about any good wok-fried noodle dish is the depth of flavour imparted by the cast-iron wok…the edges of the beef char siu have that sought-after crispy-sweet edge, with the prawns and chicken equally succulent. We polish our plates clean just as the live band takes to the stage inside.
While this experience at Trader Vic’s was a little hit-or-miss, there were more redeeming elements from the experience than negative ones – enough that we would come back again and give it another go. It’s certainly a fun place to gather for an evening with friends. With an unmatched ambience and dozens of signature dishes and Trader Vic’s favourites to choose from, the odds of having a repeat of tonight’s duds are lessened – as long as their focus stays honed on quality and culinary craftsmanship.
Let novelty remain in the names on the menu – not haphazardly on the plate.
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