Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion | A Luau in La Jolla

April 26, 2011

The tiki torches that illuminate the exterior of Roy's Hawaiian Fusion-La Jolla beckon brightly as you approach one of the trendiest Golden Triangle hotspots from Genesee Avenue. Roy's blends the flavors and style of Hawaii with fine, fresh local ingredients to present a uniquely delicious cuisine that makes for a memorable dining experience. With a frequently changing menu, the new "Aloha Hour" and daily fixed-price specials, anytime is a prime time to escape to a tropical paradise bursting with food sensations.

Roy's is the brainchild of James Beard Award-winner Roy Yamaguchi, who opened the first Roy's Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1988.  Today, there are 31 Roy's locations around the world—23 in the continental U.S., six in Hawaii, one in Japan and one in Guam. There are two in San Diego alone.  The restaurants offer patrons a distinctive dining experience that includes spacious dining rooms, expansive lounges and Roy's signature exhibition kitchen. The La Jolla location offers all of these, and excels with culinary offerings, spot-on service and a grand interior.

Misoyaki butterfish
The inside of Roy's La Jolla is alive and spirited. Open yet distinctively compartmented, the restaurant pours signature cocktails (like the delightful Hawaiian Martini pictured on your right) in the bar for patrons watching the game on flat-screens. Farther in, bamboo pillars rise from floor to ceiling to separate the busy open kitchen and kitchen-side sushi bar from the main dining area. In the expansive, high-ceilinged dining room, petal-shaped light fixtures glow over the tables. The servers briskly circulate around the room, assuring that glasses are full and plates are cleared. Although many regard Roy's as an upscale chain, each restaurant is distinctively chef-driven, and the experience may differ remarkably among locations.

Roy's La Jolla is co-owned and managed by Chef Percy Oani. Oani has undergone training in a range of Asian cuisines as well as those of France and the Mediterranean, building on his education at the California Culinary Academy. Mentored by Roy Yamaguchi, his talent earned him the chef partner position at Roy's La Jolla, where Oani insists that seafood, most of it from Hawaii, be delivered six days a week.

Asian spices and European sauces showcase the complex flavor of both standing "signature dishes" and customer favorites, Oani rewrites most of the menu every three weeks or so. The award-winning wine list is designed to complement every meal.

On a recent visit, we started by extracting spiced edamame beans from their salty, seasoned pods. We then enjoyed a beautifully plated sashimi sampler, dressed with a variety of herbs that accentuated the luminous colors of the fish, including smooth, rich salmon with an almost nutty flavor, and delicate yellowtail that tasted cool and refreshing. While the octopus was characteristically chewy, the flavors were on point, and the tuna was just perfect, a red as brilliant as stained glass and revealing its unadulterated freshness with every bite.

Roy's Aloha Hour menu features specials like Wagyu beef sliders with caramelized onions and chipotle aioli served on mini pretzel buns, with garlic-doused sweet potato fries on the side($5). The burgers were crispy and good enough to make you crave more, and the fries, decorated with hints of truffle and Parmesan, were equally addictive. We sampled two appetizers, kung pao calamari with a three-pepper stir-fry and a sweet-spicy sauce ($11.95), and grilled, Szechwan-spiced baby back pork ribs, smoked until the meat is ready to fall off the bone, and glazed in Roy's original Mongolian sauce ($10.95). If you resist the urge to lick your fingers clean, the server will bring warm moist towels to clean the delicious sauce from your hands (and face).

After cleansing our palates with the succulent, juicy roasted beet salad with macadamias, just-peeled orange, oak leaf lettuce and citrus vinaigrette ($8.95), we welcomed the entrées. Beef short ribs with buttery mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, and roasted vegetables, topped off with a reduction sauce of pan juices($26.95), are one of the most memorable dishes at Roy's, and the tender meat fell apart at the touch of a fork. Another house favorite, Hawaiian-Style misoyaki butterfish, was served over sautéed bean sprouts and sided with baby bok choy and sizzling soy vinaigrette ($30.95). No wonder it's so popular, since the rich butterfish flakes delicately and literally melts in your mouth.

Roy's offers a range of island-inspired sweets, so save room for desserts like the melting hot chocolate soufflé, a flourless chocolate cake with a molten hot center that, once pierced, erupts like lava and flows into vanilla bean ice cream and the sauce of raspberry coulis ($9.95). The Alaula cake was very refreshing and attractive, and layered pink guava cake with lilikoi cream and fresh fruit and berries. Topped with guava and mango sauce, it also was coupled with a scoop of refreshing sorbet ($7.95).

Roy's specials truly offer value-oriented prices. The "Spring Fusion Prix Fixe Menu," available nightly, offers select, three course meals ($35.95), and on Mondays, guests have the run of the menu to create custom fixed-priced dinners. The courses include a choice of appetizer or salad, entrée and dessert. Roy's holds nothing back, and offers this for the same price as the daily prix fixe. Roy's also offers a special Aloha Hour (happy hour) menu nightly except Saturday, which features select appetizers and drinks for $5, as well as a newly introduced Friday lunch menu from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

So forget about hopping the Pacific to enjoy the fresh favorites of a gourmet Hawaiian luau - just visit Roy's Hawaiian Fusion in La Jolla to make your taste buds scream "Mahalo."

8670 Genesee Avenue, La Jolla
(858) 455-1616

Sun. & Mon. 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Tues.-Thurs. 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Lunch Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Aloha Hour Sun.-Fri. 4:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m.

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