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Roy’s Waikiki

Roy’s Waikiki

by REID on November 6, 2010 · 12 comments

It’s funny how things have a way of working themselves out, especially when you least expect it. Quite sometime ago I came across a well written blog that I found to be insightful and approachable. There were ruminations on haute cuisine from San Francisco and New York and well written reflections on working within the restaurant industry. The author was obviously a cook and a few months into the blog, I learned that he was working at a local Roy’s Restaurant. Other than that, the author(s) of the blog was mysterious, only going by the initials of CK and PH. Then a little less than a year after it was started, it had ended; the final post contained musings on the 2009 Michelin guides for New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.

All was forgotten until a few months ago when I happened to find this chef on Twitter. Luckily, he was open to starting a dialogue with me and that led to this special dinner. The date and time was quickly arranged and joining me at the table that evening were Lesa, Dale and Tamara. It was an amazing evening filled with great food and conversation.

Roy's Waikiki 1
Squash, marcona almond butter, celery; Ikura cured in bonito, “Robuchon” pomme purée, Korean watercress

The dishes served at dinner were prepared using a combination of classic French and modern cooking techniques infused with local ingredients and Asian flavors – a revitalization and reworking of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, if you will. Each plate balanced flavor and texture with artful presentation that was subdued yet visually appealing.

One of the dishes that best showcased this was the ikura cured in bonito with “Robuchon” pomme purée and Korean watercress. Luxuriously creamy with a silky mouthfeel, the buttery-flavored pomme purée was topped with a healthy sprinkling of ikura that had been cured with bonito and dashi, giving this dish a savory and slightly smoky aroma and flavor. Tiny “chips” made of the potato skin offered some crunch while the Korean watercress leaves added a pop of color and a mildly vegetal bite.

Roy's Waikiki 2
Black cod, kabocha, grapes, soy-lemon nage; “bacon and eggs”

Another highlight of the evening was “bacon and eggs”. When I saw those words written on the menu, my mind started to race trying to figure out how the dish would be served. When it arrived at the table, I think I let out a chuckle as it was a lot more literal than I had anticipated. The egg was cooked sous vide, allowing the white to be just barely set; a thin veil enveloping the unctuous yolk. A light dusting of chives over the egg helped cut through the inherent richness, while the slices of bacon provided the salt needed to round out the dish.

Roy's Waikiki 3
Moi “cuit et cru”, bok choy, orange, miso; Big Island hirame roasted on the bone, matsutake beurre noisette

Moi “cuit et cru”, or cooked and raw, with bok choy, orange and miso was the dish I was most intrigued by. How were both the cooked and raw states achieved using a single piece of fish? The delicately flavored and tender fleshed fish was cooked until the skin side was crisp while keeping the “fleshy” side closer to its raw state. It was served surrounded by a pool of lightly flavored miso broth and garnished with ribbons of finely julienned bok choy, orange supremes and a smattering of diced red pepper.

Roy's Waikiki 4
Tongue “cuit d’espice pastrami”, red wine ‘kraut’, “1000 island reduction”; Brandt Farm veal cheek, onions, persimmon, Tokyo turnip

Another standout was the veal cheek. This is one dish that isn’t usually seen on local restaurant menus and I was happy to see it prepared and presented so simply here. Veal cheeks are probably one of the most tender and succulent cuts of meat, if cooked long and slow, as this obviously was. Served with its own jus, the accompanying onions and turnips provided a hint of texture and flavor, while the persimmon purée helped to cut through the rich, deep flavors.

If you ever have the opportunity like this, you probably wouldn’t want to pass it up. I can only thank the chef for preparing such a stunning meal for us. This was one of the better meals that I had enjoyed all year and one that will be remembered for quite sometime.

Roy’s Waikiki
226 Lewers Street
Telephone: 808.923.7697

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt November 7, 2010 at 12:41 AM

Reid, I’m glad you’re back posting. I’ve been following you for a long time and have subscribe to your site through your RSS feed. Are you more active in Twitter? I don’t go there much.


[Matt, Thanks for visiting even though I don’t post regularly. That’s about to change though as one of my resolutions for 2011 is to start blogging regularly again. I am quite active on Twitter, mostly with other food lovers. Check me out there when you have a chance. My Twitter handle is @onokinegrindz.]


kat November 7, 2010 at 1:22 AM

that is so neat how it all turned out for the best.

[Kat, It was definitely neat and so unexpected. I am so happy to have met so many amazing people this past year.]


Kirk November 8, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Looks like a wonderful meal Reid! It’s nice to have you posting again.

[Kirk, Thanks! It was amazing! Thanks for checking up on me every now and again. One of my goals for 2011 is to start posting regularly again. I also need to start reading blogs again too. Take care.]


Selina December 14, 2010 at 8:35 AM

MY GOODNESS- thank you for this blog. IT IS AMAZING, I just love food blogs and haha, blogging can have lots of drama but thank you for documenting food (especially just HAWAIIIII) for everyone!!! My friends and I will be browsing all your entries for a while.

[Selina, Thank you so much for stopping by. I am happy that you enjoy the blog. Hope to see you around here more often in 2011.]


Mrs. P December 15, 2010 at 4:13 PM

I’ve always come across your site, old or new. You provided alot of information for visitors as well as the locals. I have tried different places because of you. (as a matter of fact, I think we’re aquintances) Anyway, my hubs and I went to Roy’s Wakiki for our wedding anniversary and it was really a different experience compared to the other Roy’s. I’ll have to add that my hubs LOVED the bacon and eggs…and wished that I could make it that way! It was a great experience! Hats off to the Chef!

[Mrs. P, Thank you so much for stopping by. The food was so amazing that night. What made it even better was the company. I hope you continue to visit the blog as I am going to try to be more active in 2011.]


Lesa January 11, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Beautiful shots Reid! Can relive dinner over and over.

[Lesa, Thank you! I wish you could have been at the final dinner with us. It was truly memorable.]


Kyle February 2, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Reid, saw that you had Cotogna and Atelier Crenn scheduled for your San Francisco trip in January. Have you been through SF yet? We dined at Cotogna on January 22nd — I thought that everything was outstanding, but the two pasta dishes I tried (Tagliolini w/ Dungeness Crab and the Lamb Pappardelle) were very possibly the two best pasta dishes I’ve ever had… ever. I’m really looking forward to our February 12 reservation at Atelier Crenn. I’ve seen photos, and everything looks fabulous. Would love to know what you thought — and see some of your photos.

[Kyle, Thanks for leaving a comment. I have not been to SF yet, but just returned from a trip to Seattle/Portland. Will be visiting SF in April and will definitely be going to Cotogna and Atelier Crenn. Hopefully, I will also be able to secure a reservation for the French Laundry. Want to also visit Plum and Commis in Oakland again as well as Ubuntu in Napa. Too many excellent places in the Bay Area and never enough time. Glad to hear that Cotogna got the thumbs up.]


Mariko March 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Now that I’m on the third post, I’m seeing that you must carry around your own lighting with you. Thank goodness. Now I’m just going to drool over everything.
Really, the squash is the prettiest thing. It sounds delish. Roy’s Waikiki looks more daring than the Koolina location I went to years ago. I’ll have to give it a try.

[Mariko, Thanks again for the compliment. No, I don’t carry around my own lighting, but it always helps to pay attention to lighting and to use a camera that does well in low light situations. This dinner at Roy’s was prepared by the same chef the cooked the private dinner at KCC. Unfortunately, the chef is no longer cooking in Hawaii.]


Kyle March 28, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Atelier Crenn definitely gets a thumbs up. It’s not just the food, but the overall experience. Outstanding service by all of the staff. (We had a 5:30 reservation, before the restaurant got too crowded, and Chef Crenn actually served us our amuse bouche and came out to check on us a little later.) The food is as artistic as it is delicious. I was a little concerned about the small portions, and expected to still be hungry after our five-course meal, but I think the pacing helped. We all left very satisfied in many ways. I think you’ll enjoy it.

[Kyle, I am glad that you enjoyed your meal at Atelier Crenn. While I thought the dishes were presented nicely, they were a little challenging to eat. We got the chef’s tasting menu the night we went and I was a little disappointed with some of the dishes.]


Bev February 5, 2012 at 2:49 PM

After trying both Hawaii Kai and Waikiki locations (2 weeks apart), i felt Hawaii Kai was far more superb. I was very disappointed with the Waikiki location.


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