Ya­m­aguchi Style

Roy’s Waikiki gives din­ers a taste of the Pa­cific Rim.

Waikiki Magazine - - IDINE - By Lesa Grif­fith

Hawai‘i has its share of celebrity chefs, but only one has a pres­ence in Waikiki— Roy Ya­m­aguchi. One of the founders of the Hawai‘i Re­gional Cui­sine move­ment in 1991, Ya­m­aguchi is a pioneer in con­tem­po­rary is­land cook­ing. He is a fix­ture in the in­ter­na­tional food scene, with a TV show un­der his belt, ap­pear­ances at food fes­ti­vals around the world, and Roy’s restau­rants in cities from Tokyo to Baltimore.

He opened his Waikiki lo­ca­tion in 2007, and it re­mains the place to try some of the most ex­cit­ing food in the neigh­bor­hood. Each Roy’s has a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity—that’s be­cause Ya­m­aguchi, be­sides be­ing an ex­cel­lent chef, is also a re­spected men­tor and gives his ex­ec­u­tive chefs room to ex­press them­selves.

At Roy’s Waikiki, you can ex­pe­ri­ence the best of both food worlds— Ya­m­aguchi’s now clas­sic sig­na­ture dishes, such as Roy’s black­ened is­land ‘ahi with spicy soy mus­tard sauce and Roy’s Waikiki Em­bassy Suites 226 Lew­ers St. [D:7 Waikiki Map] (808) 923-7697 www.royshawaii.com grilled Szechuan-spiced baby back pork ribs, along with Kaua‘i-born ex­ec­u­tive chef Ja­son Peel’s new creations, such as re­fresh­ing cubes of ruby-red wa­ter­melon driz­zled with Thai-style vinai­grette, and honey-glazed duck breast with a pun­gent sour beet purée topped by minty juli­enned can­taloupe. In 2013, Peel plans to in­tro­duce smaller ta­pas-style plates, and will even be “play­ing around with clas­sic dishes with fla­vors that I like—I love heat, acid, and herbs.” One new dish will be a stew of clams in a broth of white wine, Ana­heim pep­pers, pancetta, pars­ley and chives.

From cre­ative sushi rolls such as the Turf’s Up (tem­pura as­para­gus, to­mato, filet mignon and gar­licky es­car­gots!) to a hefty dry-aged, soy-glazed pork chop with gin­ger risotto, there is some­thing for ev­ery­one in the bustling din­ing room. Peel even of­fers a four­course, ve­gan din­ner that changes quar­terly. (You have to re­quest it—it’s not on the menu.) Peel’s ve­gan ver­sion of a spicy tuna roll is made with chick­pea purée—and even meat eaters will love it.

Peel ex­plains that pro­duce might grow all year long in Hawai‘i, but the small cli­mac­tic shifts of the sea­sons def­i­nitely af­fect the fla­vor and qual­ity—and it in­flu­ences what he puts on the menu.

You can choose to sit on the breezy lanai (also home to the bar, where you can have pupu [ap­pe­tiz­ers] and cre­ative cock­tails such as the Guava­li­cious made with vodka and fresh fruit puree) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), at the sushi counter, or in the din­ing room, which is packed for din­ner by 6 p.m. al­most ev­ery day of the week. It’s smart to make a reser­va­tion at least three days in ad­vance.

PhOTO: cOurTesY rOY‘s

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