Friday, February 22, 2008

Restaurant Review - Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine, 7760 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL

I had eaten at Roy's for dinner before with one of my girlfriends for a night out and with my husband for our wedding anniversary, however, tonight I was on a date with someone else... my 8-year-old son. I decided we needed some talk time away from his little brother who has been monopolizing my time lately. I called ahead to make reservations and said that I was going to be on a "date night" with my child. We received an aloha greeting at the podium and then we were promptly escorted to our table. There was a sprinkle of curling ribbon at our table to signify the special occasion, which was a nice touch.

There are several seating areas at Roy's and each one has a different mood. When I dined at Roy's for our anniversary, my husband and I were seated in the much quieter front room. I would highly recommend requesting this room if you would like to have a romantic dinner. When I ate with my friend, we asked for the sushi bar area which is great for friends as you will be seated with other diners, either at the sushi bar itself, where you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen, or at a large family-style table in the bar area. Then there is the main room which, I think, is the place to sit with children. It has enough noise that your children will just blend in, yet you can still hear each other at the table.

As soon as we sat down, a server brought us Roy's seasoned edemame as a complementary appetizer. A little too spicy for my son, but he enjoyed the soy beans after he flicked off the spices.

My son ordered off of the Keiki's (children's) menu - a sort of prix fixe menu for kids. For $12, children receive an appetizer of cheese quesadillas and vegetable crudites (a fancy word for some carrot and celery sticks) with ranch dressing, a choice of entrees, as well as a sundae for dessertKid's appetizer. Kid's entree choices range from buttered pasta or crispy chicken and fries, to short ribs, salmon, or even a children's sushi entree. My son decided on the short ribs, which is a smaller version of the adult entree.

I decided to order off the regular menu versus the relative bargain of the prix fixe adult menu. If you are eating at Roy's for the first time, or if you have a limited budget, I highly recommend the seasonal prix fixe dinner. For $35, you have a choice of one each of selected appetizers, entrees and desserts. Everything on the regular menu sounded good to me so I asked our server for her recommendations. She recommended the Island Style Ahi Poke Island Style Ahi Pokeappetizer ($13) and the Pesto Seared Opakapaka (Hawaiian Pink Snapper) for an entree ($34). I went with both suggestions and was glad I did. The poke tuna salad had sushi grade cubes of tuna surrounding a mound of sticky rice and covered with mixed greens topped with an Asian vinaigrette and slices of pickled ginger. As I dug down to the bottom, the sticky rice had a brown sauce on it that I could not place. I asked our server about it and she very knowledgeably told me it was made with kukui nutPesto Seared Opakapakas, sometimes called a candlenut, which are also used in Hawaiian ceremonies to make bracelets and leis. In Hawaii they are roasted and made into the condiment called inamona, which I then remembered seeing on the menu as part of the appetizer. The whole dish was very complex with lots of flavor layers. I found my main dish to be the same way. I had originally wanted to try the butterfish as I had eyed it on my last trip to Roy's but the new Opakapaka entree looked very intriguing. Topped with a pesto sauce, it was served with a buttery burgundy cream sauce and accompanied by potato and chive "raviolis" and carrots and leeks. My son tried the raviolis and said they tasted like his grandmother's pierogies and I realized he was correct as it was the same concept. However, the pasta for these raviolis was very light, almost translucent so that all you tasted was the potatoes and chives. The fish had taste of Italy due to the pesto sauce and also came with slightly spicy finely diced tomatoes on top.
Kid's Short Ribs entree
My son's short ribs were so extremely tender that the meat just pulled apart with a fork. It had a slightly mustard taste and was served with wonderfully flavorful mashed potatoes, asparagus (which he didn't touch - pretty much the only vegetable he doesn't eat) as well as squash and other vegetables (he ate all those).

Special Chocolate SouffleSince I had requested a "date night with your child" dinner, our server told us we were going to receive the chocolate souffle for dessert, compliments of the restaurant. The chocolate souffle was served with a molten hot chocolate lava flow in the center that oozed out when the outer cake layer was cut open. It was served with a raspberry sauce swirl that ended with two actual raspberries hidden in the large scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Most special was the chocolate writing that said "Aloha to mom and [my son's name]" -- awwww.

The service was absolutely impeccable. As soon as we were done with a dish, someone came to take it away. Plus, all of the servers and managers made it a point to come by our table and talk about our special dinner. They couldn't have treated us more nicely. From the Aloha's at the door to the Mahalos when we were leaving, we were treated as treasured guests through our meal experience. It was a very enjoyable evening that I'm sure my son and I will remember for a long time to come.

Roy's on Urbanspoon


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Paul said...

My experience wasn't so hot. We went for our anniversary dinner last night. Both the food and service were OK. Not what I expected from this level of restaurant. I've lived in Orlando for a while and as a foodie I've been to most good to great Orlando restaurants. The tuni appetizer was too acidic and was a bit hard to eat. My crispy yellow tail snapper was good but not great. There was an assortment of noodles and veggies that were drowning in a brown sauce.

We got their signature souffle dessert. It was overcooked! The outside was a tad hard and had a slightly 'burned' taste. I've made souffle many times at home and had it at restaurants like Le Coq Au Vin. It was no where near as expertly done as this.

The service was slow all night. We had to ask for coffee more than once before it came and several other requests were forgotten and we had to ask twice.

I am about easy going as you can believe when it comes to being patient at a restaurant. We are one of those people the start tipping at 20% and go from there. This night I tipped 15% because this experience just wasn't up to par.

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