Lun Wah

Lun Wah
587 Raritan Road Roselle NJ 07203 / Phone: 908-245-0656

One of the very last of the original authentic Tiki relics from the Polynesian Pop culture phenomenon from the early 1970s.  While it did change ownership in 2013, this is about as tiki as it gets in New Jersey. When I first saw the outside of this place I was a little worried, but once inside you are transported to a truly magical escape from reality.

Their cocktail menu is interesting.  They rate the strength of each cocktail using one pineapple for the most mild, two for stronger and three for the most potent. Referencing the 1960s TV Sitcom “Gilligan’s Island“.  One means “Good for Gilligan”, two means “Professor Enjoys” and three will “Put Skipper Under”.  Of course being a vintage tiki aficionado, I had to go for the Zombie Circa 1970. I sat at the bar waiting for my brother to arrive and watched it being made. Now I see why it had the maximum “Skipper” rating and warning.  The bartender free-poured what looked like a lot of rum, at least two different kinds, sweet vermouth curaçao. From the first sip it took me way back to what Polynesian drinks used to take like decades ago.  As good as it was, my wife’s Blue Hawaii was better.

Like always I start with the Pupu platter to get a good cross-section sampling of the food.  I am glad I did not stop there because when I visit again I will just skip the pupu platter and get the ribs that are marinated for 24 hours. The rest was just greasy and/or nothing worth getting again.  The ribs however, were very good.

The winning dish here was definitely the Grand Marnier Chicken. The beef and scallops were not spicy though we asked for it not only to be spicy but to include the hot Schezuan peppers.  It was not a bad dish, but not what we wanted and the beef was too tough to chew. The scallops were cooked perfectly.

I’ve been wanting to come here for a long time and it certainly did not disappoint.  In fact it exceeded all my expectations.  It is the last of 3 authentic Tiki places around since the early 1970s.  This included Chan’s Dragon and Lee’s Hawaiian Islander.  China Paradise has since closed. As far as I am concerned this is the reigning  winner of the last 3 standing.

A big consideration is music in any place I dine.  Here the youngest song I heard was the “Piña Colada” song from 1979.  But that was the exception.  All the rest were Elvis; exotica; Hawaiian;  and other songs like Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding; The Wanderer by Dion, Route 66 and other classic songs you never hear in any restaurant anymore.

Every corner of this place is packed with kitsch.  Even when you look up at the modern LED televisions, it displays the temperature and weather conditions in Honolulu Hawaii.  This place is truly what escapism is all about, even the bathrooms have carved tiki masks.  On your way out they have a souvenir shop with great items at a fairly reasonable price you can’t refuse.  They got me for another $25 but I got 2 mugs and a t-shirt.

Their Description:
Since 1974, Lun Wah Restaurant & Tiki has been serving our guests hot, fresh, delicious food in a unique environment. A relic of a By-gone era that is surely making a come back today.  Pu-Pu Platters, Drinks on fire, A staff heaven-bent on providing you great service, delishious food, and fantastic drinks. In a tradition of style spanning from post World War era through the end of the 1970’s, This diamond in the rough survived when others fell, and you’ll know why when you come. Tiki is making a comeback, but there is no come-back needed for Lun Wah.