Turns out, the quickest way to get newbies excited about Tiki is FLAMES! If you order a bowl of alcohol, and it arrives at the table ON FIRE! you are sure to make a Tiki-convert. Last week, while on a family trip, I visited the Shameful Tiki Room, Vancouver. And because Tiki is best appreciated with company, my 20 something niece and my newly minted 21 year old son joined me (as did my 13 year old daughter… apparently, kids can go into bars until 8pm in Canada… good to know when you need a designated driver).
Admittedly, I was worried. The family has always looked at my Tiki appreciation as a mild eccentricity, like a stamp collection or an obsession with moths. Luckily, we were all in for a treat. The Shameful Tiki Room was everything a Tiki-phile could want… and more.
Shameful Tiki Vancouver
Hidden in plain site on a main street in Vancouver (actually, it was LITERALLY on Main St), the Shameful Tiki Room is disguised as a closed up storefront with tan painted windows. The only give-away that we were at the right address… the smallish image of a wooden Tiki Mug on Palm Fronds. Pushing our way in from the bright Vancouver sunshine, we hit a curtain.
Walk through that… and you enter an enchanted world where Tiki gods are King, and Rum acts as the Chief Adviser. The room is dark… really dark… but as your eyes adjust, you can make out Tapa covered walls, Tiki gods, lamps made from fish floats, and palm fronds… Anchoring the room, a bar that is more L shaped than long.
It smelled so good. That Tiki Bar aroma of rum, spices, and wood that comes from years of spills….
Thankfully, I wrote ahead for a reservation (nope, I didn’t call… they don’t have a phone! Reservations are taken for the first half hour only on weekends) and considering the crowd at 5:30, we needed them! Also, luckily, I had read through the menu before going in, because we were seated toward the back, and it was dark. The Tapa Cloth lamp didn’t do much to light up the table… and the small candle was more of a heat than a light source, but.. who cares? We knew what we wanted. (And hey, we can read by the light of a smart phone…)
The Mystery BOOOWL!
Don’t ask what’s in the Mystery Bowl (no one will tell), just be glad you ordered it. This fabulous potion is served with in a clam shell bowl with flames coming out of 2 floating lime halves while the bartenders and everyone else in the place chants MYSTERY BOOOOWLLLL. My niece took a sip and lit up! “Ohhh.. This is GOOOOD!!” And suddenly, the rest of us had to grab our straw and drink before she slurped it all down.
(Now, if some of you are thinking I am leading the 13 year old down an alcoholic path to darkness and despair, be assured, she did not get the 4th straw… the Server brought her a Designated Driver. Not a Shirley Temple… a delightful Mocktail complete with pineapple garnish. In fact, we wanted to order the Voodoo Bowl, but because only 3 of us were drinkers, they wouldn’t let us have it… you need 4… and the kid didn’t count… Canadian law?)
We did order food to go with our drink… The menu is not huge, but covers a wide range of “typical” Tiki Bar fare like potstickers, Hawaiian ribs and Tiki Nuts…and they also had larger plates with Poke, Curry Nachos and Sliders. The portions were just right… and filled us up enough to go for another round of drinks.
We took our Server’s advice and ordered the Day of the Dead. She described it as a combination of a Painkiller and a Zombie. She was right, it was the perfect pick.. sweet and spicy, with loads of rum (enough to re-animate the dead) and a fruity taste.
At that point, it was time to get back to the rest of the family, so we picked up a bunch of swag (new mug, clam shell bowl, swizzle sticks and a t-shirt! YAY!), settled the bill, hugged our server, and headed back out into the Vancouver evening; a little tipsy, and content in the knowledge that I’ve lured a few more people into Tiki…
Best of all, for the rest of the week, when things got a little crazy on the family trip, the 4 of us would look at each other and say “Mystery BOOOWL”!
(All I need now is the recipes…..But I think I’ll need to move to Canada and get a job as a bartender first)
Thank You Shameful Tiki!