Chef Chu’s Mai Tai

Our favorite Chinese restaurant is Los Altos’ venerable Chef Chu’s. We’ve been going here for years and in addition to great food they do offer some cocktails including a Mai Tai.

The Mai Tai is billed as using “our original Mai Tai mix” which tastes a lot like Trader Vic’s Mai Tai mix if I’m being honest. The one tasted a really good, maybe due to a change in recipe or perhaps due to real sugar replacing corn syrup in the latest incarnation of the Vic’s retail product.

Chef Chu’s uses light and dark Myers’s rum, which is perfectly reasonable to me as I consider the Myers’s white rum to be under-appreciated and quite affordable if you can find it. Mai Tais that are nothing but pineapple juice are kind of awful, but a light touch as with this one can be quite nice.

The Formosa Cafe Still Delivers Hollywood Charm

We made our second trip to this longtime Hollywood restaurant and had a grand time once again. The Formosa Cafe is noteworthy for fine Chinese food and cocktails, with an immersive interior and slick graphic design aesthetic. We were seated again in the old rail car – same booth as last time. It’s a fun space but the small table meant we had to do some table Tetris to fit things together.

We loved all the food we ordered, including the Orange Chicken and Chow Mein. The Shrimp and Pork Shu Mai from the happy hour menu were delightful, and we again enjoyed the Soup Dumplings. The portions are fairly large, so if you’re local you have the advantage for taking some home. There’s a bunch of glassware, mugs, and more available for purchase too.

Cocktails were once again a highlight, including a nice Mai Tai with light and dark rums and a hint of pineapple. The Cider House Punch has spiced rum and and a spiced apple syrup but was a bit spicy for me. Mrs. Mai Tai had the gin-based Secret Garden and the Cold Brew Martini and both were great, in fact this was her favorite Espresso Martini variant so far.

We found the service to be quite attentive and it is just so cool hanging out in an old but well-maintained restaurant with so much history. The decorative elements and lighting are very immersive and it’s a hoot to see the photos of Hollywood stars on the walls or to pass by the booth where they filmed L.A. Confidential.

Formosa Cafe – Iconic Hollywood Chinese Restaurant

This iconic Chinese restaurant has been on our radar ever since it was remodeled and relaunched as a brand a few years back. We made a reservation for opening last Saturday.

There are nods to classic and even newer Hollywood stars with the photos lining the ceiling, with a large bar right as your enter and a second one in the back room. We were seated in the section that’s an actual Red Trolley Car dating to 1904. So unique!

The Formosa is leaning into their merchandise program, offering stickers, glassware, shirts, and more. We took advantage of the bundle of a cocktail and a Dragon Mug, quite the deal for just $30. I had the Mai Tai, which is made with light and black Bacardi rum, and a bit of pineapple juice. The pineapple ratio was modest, so this was actually a pretty good Mai Tai. There’s a Tia Mia on the menu, which is a Mai Tai with Mezcal and spiced rum, so I ordered one using only Appleton Signature rum and found it to be closer to a true Mai Tai though I think I preferred the one with pineapple juice.

We loved the Passion and Paradox cocktail that includes Rye and Blood Orange Liqueur and Mrs. Mai Tai liked the Nay Nay Rosé Martini.

The food at Formosa leans expensive and is decadent. We loved the Walnut Shrimp, XLB Soup Dumplings, and Pot Stickers. We took a chance on the Chinese BBQ Pork which is basically an entire pork loin and served with foldable bao buns. This actually gave less meat than you might think, unless you love crispy pork skin.

The interior of the Formosa Cafe is total eye candy and everyone needs to visit this iconic location at least once. We had great service and loved the ambiance of the entire restaurant.