Trader Vic's

Polynesian cuisine: what is it, and why should it be in your mouth? Reviews

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Trader Vic’s is basically the One Direction of restaurants. At first it’s all polished and nice smelling, then you get the creepy feeling you could walk into any Trader Vic’s in any other city and see the exact same hostess grinning at you behind the podium. And she’d still be telling you that sorry, even though it’s a Wednesday and fairly early, you can’t get a table without a reservation. But as you’re kicking yourself over having failed to call ahead, you’ll also get them stuck in your head like an insidious boy band song. You’ll be humming the same three lines over and over again until you give in and just download the whole thing, iPod integrity to the wind, or in this case, until you get another portion of their jalapeño cheese balls.

Yes, that’s right: cheese balls. Since we couldn’t score a table in the regular dining area, we instead opted for a table in the bar side. We’re a bit confused why we couldn’t order off the regular menu (which incidentally is mostly the same as the bar menu), considering we were literally on the other side of the room, and had a full size table to boot. But whatever. Cheese balls. They’re all ‘Why are we talking? Get me in your face’ while giving us deep fried Blue Steel. Creamy insides, chopped jalapeños mixed through (hurray, no massive bite of stringy pepper!), deep fried? Avert your eyes calorie counters, we’re ordering a second portion.

While we’re at it, we take a glance over the rest of the bar menu. The only things missing from the full menu are some of the steaks and other mains, which, based purely upon their description, look to be a bit ho hum anyway. We’d much rather get the Asian style chicken wings, the calamari, the crispy prawns and the duck tacos. Duck tacos, more like holy-mother-of-sweet-barbecue-delight tacos. The portion is fairly small, just three miniature tacos, so consider ordering a second order to start with and save yourself the time it will take to get more. Succulent meat, crispy taco, fragrant sauce: these are the things duck dreams are made of. Fueled by their prodigious drinks menu (some of which even come with toys. It’s like a grownup happy meal that will give you a headache the next day), things happen we’re not proud of. At Trader Vic’s, dark food deeds are done, and they mostly involve dipping sauce. Their boneless Asian wings, which on their own are a little tasteless (ancient Chinese spices? Not so much), come alive when dunked in their spicy chili sauce. The calamari? A tiny bit soggy—but this could also be on account of being served in a giant mountain—become little bits of delight when slathered in the wasabi mayo. Wasabi mayo is the natural habitat, clearly, of calamari. The crispy prawns? They need nothing: already crisp and light and delectable they are fantastic on their own. Seriously, if you suspect you’re going to want seconds (and let’s be honest: you’re going to want seconds), order it all at the start. While there are loads of servers hovering around, the kitchen has a hard time keeping up, and orders can take a while to get to your table.

And then, there are the fries. A Trader Vic’s specialty, these are dusted with ‘Island Spices’. A French fry is a simple yet potentially exquisite bit of a side dish, and these are phenomenal. They beckon from their basket, all ‘Why are you talking about my ‘great mouth feel’? Just eat me already. You know you want me. Let’s get me in you and you can face your calorific regrets like a man’. Then they cackle evilly.

Because here’s the thing they’re not printing on their menus: it is impossible to go to Trader Vic’s and not stagger out full of regret, French fries, and promises to do penance crunches. Regret, sadness and lingering grease around your mouth will be your only friends. And that’s basically alright with us. Listen, if you plan on going in there and virtuously ordering a salad or just having a nibble, I mock you. If you can look at the words ‘deep fried ball of spicy cheese’ without calorie-bombing yourself, we’re probably not going to be friends anyway. More cheese balls for me.

The bill (for two)
1x Cheese balls QR45
1x Calamari QR58
1x Crispy prawns QR60
1x Chicken wings QR40
1x Vic’s fries QR25
1x Duck taco QR85
Total (including taxes) QR313

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: Hilton Doha, West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 4423 3118 or 4423 3119
  • Travel: Diplomatic Street
  • Website

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User reviews:

Posted by: Bonny Dias on 23 Aug ' 13 at 22:23

If Spanish music be it Salsa, Bachacha, Cha Cha gets your feet shaking whilst sipping on a tiki puka puka, trader vics is a personal favourite. A visit once a week is a must on a personal note !
Great crowd, music and ambience !

Posted by: Marta de Castro on 26 Jan ' 13 at 16:45

Edited by

I go every day I can to Trader Vics and it's the best place in Doha to dance salsa, bachata, merengue and chachacha! Relaxed ambient, you can either talk and drink something or go in front of the band and dance!! There are always people willing to have fun and spend a nice night. Very recommended!!!

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