Tiki on TV: “What Happened Last Night?” Jack in the Box Commercial

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I’ll just admit that I’m phoning in this last post of the year (but I’ve got some awesome stuff in the works for 2012). I stumbled across this photo in my archives last night — it’s from a Jack in the Box commercial from several months ago dubbed “What Happened Last Night?” (Check it out on YouTube.)

Straight out of “The Hangover,” these two disheveled gentlemen wake up with no memories of the past night of debauchery. Their only clues are a receipt and the accompanying hamburger wrappers and trash. (I can only assume they were drinking rum, as there’s also a tiki mug on the table. Aren’t I a regular Sherlock Holmes?) Suddenly they realize they’re not alone…

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Out of all the fast food mascots you could find in your living room, I guess Jack wouldn’t be so bad. Anybody would be better than The King

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Holiday Drinks & Decor at Trader Sam’s – Disneyland Hotel

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Trader Sam’s might be more appropriately called Trader Santa’s this month. The new-ish tiki bar at the Disneyland Hotel has gotten in the Christmas spirit with Santa caps placed on the Enchanted Tiki Room drummers, poinsettias mixed among the tropical foliage, and stockings hung from the bamboo (with care).

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The “family tree” of shrunken heads was decked with silver tinsel, lights and snowman and snowbird ornaments. The Disney Parks Blog has far better pictures, and a close-up of Trader Sam’s Naughty and Nice list. (Apparently the bartenders have all been rather mischievous this year — no surprise there.)

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Draped over the mug display behind the bar were what appeared to be gift-wrapped coconut bras with tags from Trader Sam. I enquired about them to Skipper Jennifer, as one was addressed to her, and she insisted that surely they must be yarmulkes because they were far too small for any other use…

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Tucked into the first page of the menu was a sheet highlighting the two holiday drinks that are being served through the end of December (or so, no specific end date was mentioned). We’d skipped dessert at our dinner at Blue Bayou, so the Mele Kaliki-Mocha was an ideal after-dinner drink. It was like a coconut-infused Frappuccino with a kick.

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The Red-Nosed Zebra, a sweet and tart blend of rum, strawberry purée, lemon and lime juice, is whimsically garnished with minty antlers and cranberries for its eyes and nose. This one also elicits some theatrical touches — a skipper shouts about winter weather warnings and a snowstorm erupts from the volcano in the “window.” Also watch out for impromptu “hail” in the form of crushed ice thrown from behind the bar. (And I do mean “watch out” because I got hit in the face!)

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The good folks at the Disney Parks Blog also posted recipes for both cocktails. This Christmas Eve I’ll be whipping up some Mele Kaliki-Mochas for the family, and I’m looking forward to trying it with B.G. Reynold’s hazelnut orgeat for a bit of a twist.

Not sure if this is working (Flickr is being sort of fickle), but I also shot a short video of the snowflakes serenely falling on the tropical peaks. This effect was my favorite holiday touch at Trader Sam’s. Gotta love those Imagineers.

Bahooka Ribs & Grog – Rosemead, CA

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A night at Bahooka is like having dinner in Davy Jones’ locker. The restaurant’s booths look as if they were constructed from driftwood, while more than one hundred aquariums emanate a mysterious glow. It’s a bit of a hike east from Los Angeles to this part of the San Gabriel Valley, but I love to make it out there whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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If you’ve seen the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” then you’re already slightly familiar with this place. In the first several minutes of the film, Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson) peels into the parking lot and uses a pay phone inside. (If you ask the staff, they might be able to direct you to Depp’s favorite table.)

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Making his silver screen debut in that scene was Rufus, the giant, carrot-eating pacu fish by the check-in stand. He’s 35 years old! Here he is munching on his favorite snack — you can even hear him crunching away if you stand up close. I absolutely adore this guy and I’m certainly not the only one.

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Bahooka’s first restaurant, which is no longer around, opened in 1967 in West Covina. This Rosemead location came about nearly a decade later. The name Bahooka supposedly means “shack,” but that’s not a reflection of its size. The restaurant is so large that it’s pretty easy to get lost in the labrynth of seemingly endless aisles.

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The décor is flotsam and jetsam at its finest, with huge glass fish floats, several tikis, random street signs, and authentic nautical equipment the owner had picked up at a naval shipyard. I love the hefty anchor chains that go right through the middle of some of the tables.

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Try to keep your mutiny conspiring to a minimum, or you and your dining companions might find yourselves eating with the other scurvy dogs in the brig!

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Bahooka is known for its ribs, which are pretty good. The rest of the menu features teriyaki chicken (also on the plate above), steak, fish, burgers, sandwiches and lots of fried fare (shrimp, chicken strips, cheese sticks, zucchini, onion rings, etc.).

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Crab rangoon is one of my favorite tiki menu staples, but the closest thing they have here are “crab puffs” ($10.75). An order comes with 20 bite-sized pieces and three sauces, though I thought they tasted best on their own.

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I’m also partial to another deep-fried delicacy: the stuffed shrimp, which are filled with crab and cheese, then breaded and fried. Luckily there’s the best of both worlds with the $20 combination dinners, such as ribs plus two stuffed shrimp. (You don’t really want to consume more than two in one sitting, but I doubt you’ll get that far since it also comes with soup or salad and a starchy side like fries or baked yam.)

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The drinks can be a bit too sweet and seem to disguise the rum rather than complement it. But they’re potent enough to do the job, and who am I to argue with Jonathan Gold? He deemed Bahooka’s Flaming Honey Bowl one of LA’s Best Cocktails, praising its presentation and nostalgia factor.

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These sunken treasures are Bahooka’s first signature tiki mugs from Tiki Farm. They’ve since produced two more designs: a nautical style one (now sold out) designed by Book of Tiki author Sven Kirsten and the blue “Rufus” mug by The Pizz that was just released this weekend.

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Before you seek out Bahooka on your own ersatz South Sea adventure, take a moment to print out the $5 off coupon from their web site. (Click on the menu link and scroll to the bottom of the page.)

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UPDATE 2/15/13: It gives me great sadness to report that Bahooka is closing on March 10, 2013. Read more on Chris Nichols’ Los Angeles magazine post.

Bahooka Family Restaurant
4501 Rosemead Blvd.
Rosemead, CA 91770
626-285-1241

Bahooka on Urbanspoon