Wednesday, June 18, 2008
GUIDED BY THE SUN...
We've just docked in our home port after an adventure in paradise (ie, the Hukilau event in Florida!) As always, it takes several days -or even weeks- to recover from the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale. If you have not had the sheer pleasure of experiencing this authentic vintage Tiki-temple, start booking a voyage now!
As soon as you enter through the heavy wooden doors (with portholes in them!), you know you are in for a treat. The Mai Kai's interior is sumptuous. Spots of colored light from fixtures of every shape and construction are reflected in the flagstone floor polished to a shine from decades of foot traffic. Chinese lattice tiles are used to create partitions between dining room spaces, and museum-quality artifacts behind glass give the curious guest much to appreciate.
The details are staggering here.
Nautical artifacts abound, from a suspended ship model to lanterns, ropes , chains, and tackle. The mossy green volcanic rocks and ferns glimpsed through the window are actually an indoor diorama complete with swirling waterfalls. The effect is dazzling, even if you aren't enjoying one of the Mai Kai's potent cocktails.
Nothing goes better with your cocktail (Cobra's Kiss? Deep Sea Diver?) than a hot dish of deep-fried deliciousness. Isn't this gorgeous?
Here's what we have here: Vegetable Egg Rolls, bacon-wrapped Szechwan Chicken, Crab Rangoon, and Cheese Tangs. Dipped in hot Chinese mustard and cocktail sauce, you've got something to write home about.
An incredible interior - anywhere you look. Here we are at a crossroads: You may turn left and enter the Gift Shop, turn right and enter the restrooms (also themed beautifully), or head straight to the Mai Kai's private offices. The tiki pole railings in the foreground were made by Oceanic Arts in Whittier California.
One of the pleasures of a visit to the Mai Kai, is an after-dinner stroll through the restaurant's indoor and outdoor gardens. Along the way you will cross bridges, encounter blue-lit pools and waterfalls, duck though caves and grottoes, and enjoy an incredible display of Tiki artifacts. Watch your step! You don't want to anger the gods by stepping off the path into the water.
To get this view, you must get down low on your hands and knees and look under the footbridge in the indoor garden. The inner-explorer in me wants to wade waaaay back in there!
My friends Chip and Andy have posted some incredible vintage photos of the Mai Kai on Flickr. Check them out! It's really surprising how little has changed over the years.