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Fong Fest Celebrates The Aloha Spirit

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 15, 2012 3:00PM

2012_8_14FongFest.png From fun new drinks at Sable, Trader Vic's auctions, and the Festival of Aloha, it seems like all summer long that tropical island mood has been bustin' out all over. And it keeps rolling on, even as far inland as ... North Riverside.

As James Tietelbaum recounts in his tome Tiki Road Trip, Chef Shangri-La was opened in 1976 in by Paul Fong, a former chef at the legendary Loop restaurant and lounge Shangri-La (which eventually segued into a XXX movie theatre--but we digress). The restaurant's North Riverside location was supposedly chosen by Fong's wife Suzie based on a dream she had. Fong trained at both Don the Beachcomber and Mai-Kai, giving him the tiki bonafides to carry those high standards over to Chef Shangri-La. It remains a really fun spot. Phil Vittel praises "offbeat entrees such as Volcano beef tenderloin, flamed in brandy" and adds "all the drinks taste hand-mixed, and prices are very reasonable."

Fong Fest, a two day festival of music, dancers, and Polynesian-style shopping September 7-8, is the perfect reason to pay "the Chef" a visit. A variety of surf, rockabilly, and exotica bands join DJ's to provide the soundtrack to the perusal of tiki collectables, apparel, and art. Friday night even features a dinner buffet. Tickets go for $35-$40; more information is available on the event's page. If you go, we recommend rounding up a designated driver so you can enjoy a Dr. Fong or two--they're solid.

Chef Shangri-La, open seven days a week, is located at 7930 W. 26th St. in North Riverside