Soliel Ho squashes Andrew Zimmern's Lucky Cricket Restaurant


They’ve either changes their menu in the last few hours or I’m losing my mind. What I remember looking at wasn’t like that. I’m serious. I remember under the apps (and I think it was called that) only one was Chinese. The salads included Caesar and there were a number of steaks. Is there any other place with a similar name. I’m feeling quite bonkers. I’m old but not THAT old!


Bergeron’s original style was basically Cantonese with pseudo-Polynesian touches and Trader Vic’s menu has always been largely Chinese-ish. Dumplings, won ton soup, most of the dishes from the Chinese smoker oven, fried rice, 5-spice duck, and some of the wok dishes are all recognizably Chinese. But he was creative and would mix things up.


The very notion of “Chinese” food is an incredibly vague term anyway. What most people know of as “authentic Chinese” food in the California is just Cantonese food which is strictly one of many regional cuisines in China.

Looking at Lucky Cricket’s menu, I instantly recognize the two items under soup section. Both names borrowed from two of Hong Kong’s more famous hole-in-the-wall restaurants, especially to tourists like myself.


Kona Grill:

Kinda all things to all people.


I just checked out the happy hour specials. What the hell is this?



Correct, the major discussion hasn’t been about whether a white man could or should cook Chinese food(s). It’s a matter of his attitude, which between the horses—— comment and the below, convey a sense of superiority. It’s all about him.

“It’s true that this market needs that kind of thing, and it’s true that I want to do it,” Zimmern tells Fast Co. of pan-Asian-style restaurants like P.F. Chang’s and Lucky Cricket. “Does it need to happen? I think it does, I think it does. Someone else is going to do it, someone else is going to be the next P.F. Chang’s, and I don’t want ’em to blow it. And is it up to me to do it? I don’t know. I certainly think I’m in the conversation, you know? And just because I’m not Chinese, I leave that to the rest of the world to judge. But if I can get people to open up their mind one degree, just spread those blinders one degree about something new to eat from another culture, I think we… the rising tide floats all boats. Plus we have a T-shirt that says ‘Get Lucky’ in Chinese on the back.”

And for his claim of being “in the conversation” his menu doesn’t bring anything to the table unique to his travels, bizarre or not— each item I see has been already been vetted or popularized in the US by Chinese and Chinese American restauranteurs, some acknowledged on the menu, in large cities as well as smaller college towns, many in the Midwest.

An aside— the Lucky Cricket font appears to be a ripoff of the Lucky Peach title/font. Or do they have a common source? Anyone know the history of the latter?


Ridiculous! I’m neither a fan nor detractor of Zimmern but clearly he’s “sold his soul.”


That “bloody mary” is from Kona Grill.


Actually, as is obvious from this board, we lucky coastal elites know that there are a lot of different regional variations of Chinese food, and bitch about the ones we don’t have access to.


McDermott’s trying to create the next PF Chang’s. I think Zimmern’s role is something like Ed LaDou’s was in the creation of California Pizza Kitchen.

If Zimmern says some thoughtless shit while some web site has a video camera pointed at him and it causes a Twitterstorm, who gives a fuck?


The Lucky Cricket logo and menu font choices were clearly inspired by Trader Vic’s.

The Lucky Peach logo was hand-drawn by Brian McMullen, who was probably also inspired by Trader Vic’s.


Trader Vic’s also has a lot of dishes on its menus that aren’t remotely Chinese. For example, the Emeryville branch currently has lobster Thermidor, avocado toast, poke, pad Thai, and a couple of steaks.


But Trader Vic’s is “Polynesia,” isn’t it?


As I said, Bergeron’s original thing was basically Cantonese with pseudo-Polynesian touches. He and Don the Beachcomber invented the “Polynesian” genre.


Here’s another old menu with a similar font.


This sums up the concept. If you wanted to do an updated version, going with an all-Chinese menu would make sense to me, since “Continental” is passe, and these days anyone who wants curry can go to a Thai place.


Thanks for all this!

That makes sense. Bon voyage in SF’s mission District is kind of an update to the tiki idea, and the menu is all Chinese food. Huh, different alumni of SF’s Betelnut put together bon voyage and Lucky cricket’s respective menus.


And the original chef of Betelnut was the original chef of Le Colonial, which took over the SF Trader Vic’s space.


nothing says chinese like Cesar Salad, Indonesian Chicken Satay, and Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi.


None of those at my local branch, though there are plenty of other not-at-all Chinese dishes. Still, the biggest part of the fusion is Chinese. And if you order food there you want things from the Chinese smoker oven.