25 June 2012

An Oasis of Tiki in a Staten Island Mall

Jade is a tiki bar and restaurant sitting in the middle of a Staten Island strip mall. It opened in 1972, a year in which tiki bars were on their way out, culturally speaking. But it became a favorite with locals, and has survived for four decades, recently fighting off a near-death experience with its landlord before signing a new lease for 10 years.

Jade Island was founded by four brothers by the name of Eng. They had all been cooks in Manhattan's Chinatown before striking out on their own. It began as a Cantonese place, but the Eng brothers quickly switched to the polyglot style of "Polynesian" cooking when they saw their customers preferred it. The Engs are no longer involved, having sold the restaurant to some employees some years ago.

The interior is, I imagine, little changed since it opened. Thatch-roofed, peaked booths line the walls of the spacious room, with standard tables in the center. There is a water sculpture in the lobby, fake foliage everywhere, and blowfish lamps and other exotic lighting fixtures.

The menu, too, hasn't change. They do the whole "Column A. Column B" thing. The food is not great, but it's filling and satisfying as genre cuisine. And the drinks are from tiki yesteryear, each getting an illustration, a long fanciful description, and an elaborate presentation. The Pineapple Paradise is below.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Cheap drinks.