The Dao of Aka.

The Chinese Village has quite a nice afterlife at the RiKa Tiki Reef.

It seems quite yin-yang to me. Childhood meals at elaborately decorated mid-century Chinese-American restaurants inspired many grown-ups to become home tiki bar enthusiasts. It’s fitting that the bamboo from yesterday’s temples should live on in today’s tiki residences. The Daoist circle is complete. Balance is restored. The chi (energy) migrates from one immersive environment to the next.

Lest you believe it was all quite serene and spiritual, Katrina and Rich will quickly confess that the migration didn’t come without backbreaking work. When they lucked into finding the 82nd Street restaurant’s bamboo at Hippo Hardware for only $100 (OMG!), the set included intact panels, dark red from years of nicotine, covered in dirt. Why had it been ripped out? When the City of Portland went non-smoking for all public restaurants, the Chinese Village decided to start fresh. Hippo Hardware had sequestered the smelly sticks to the basement and wanted to get rid of it. The red tar did not dissuade Katrina or Rich, so they packed the panels on top of their Durango, and headed for home. After a multitude of good scrubs and repairs, the bamboo now forms a stunning foundation for their subtropical hideaway.

The RiKa Tiki Reef gets its creative name from the first two letters of Rich (Ri) and Katrina’s (Ka) first names. Add Tiki – of course – and alliterate with Reef, and the name rolls off the tongue. Situated in the basement of their 1950 mid-century home, the Reef was first inspired by their honeymoon trip to Maui, but soon became influenced by their fathers’ and grandfathers’ military life experiences in Hawaii and the South Pacific. Rich’s grandpa even had a basement home tiki bar in Missouri back in the 60s, decorated with a fake palm tree. Katrina has populated the Reef with an splendid collection of mugs, carvings, nautical details, surfboards, and sentimental items from their parents, family and friends. Every item tells a story.

For the longest time, Katrina and Rich thought their tiki bar obsession was rare. It wasn’t until years after starting that they realized they weren’t the only “crazy people” who built home tiki bars. After connecting to other locals at Tiki Kon, they found their people, and the RiKa Tiki Reef now has the honor of being a coveted stop on conference’s home tiki bar itinerary.

Rich’s design of their space expertly creates the illusion that you’ve been shipwrecked on a isle. On one side you’ll find the Captain’s Quarters Bar, crafted from what appears to be the wooden remains of a ship’s galley. On the other side, you’ll sit under a thatched roof in a tiki hut and sip drinks in the glow of a titian orange sunset. In the corner, you’ll likely find Aka, the cat curled up on the director’s chair, purring to the rhythmic sounds of exotica.

Inspired by all that Rich and Katrina had created at the Reef, I resolved to be just like Aka when I transition – but with one of Rich’s pineapple daquiris in my paw. I like my yin with a good measure of yang.

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