roy vs sam
Personally, I like Roy Yamaguchi's take on Hawaiian/Asian fusion, more than Sam Choy's. Now, I've only been to Sam Choy's (Kapahulu Ave.?) once, and have dined at a dozen different Roy's around the Mainland and Hawai`i. It's been years since I was last at Hawai`i Kai location, and was underwhelmed by it. However, the exec. chefs at each Roy's has a free reign with Yamaguchi's dishes, so whoever is in charge on your visit, can make a world of difference.
In general terms, I found most of Sam Choy's dishes to be far too heavy. Now, I come from New Orleans, where heavy, rich, etc. are common, and do a lot of traditional FR worldwide, but I liked Yamaguchi's lighter take on this cuisine. My vote would definitely be for Roy's, though I do need to try Choy's again, plus try another of his restaurants, to be fair.
If you have the inclination and the time, I would NOT miss Alan Wong's, King St. to compare HIS take on some similar dishes. I also agree that 3660 on the Rise, is worth the drive. It would be a great A-B-C comparison.
I like that! "Ala Moana is beckoning!"! I must agree with Yoshio and you that Roy's
"Flagship" is not to be missed. The creativity of Ronnie Nasuti is amazing and he
does a great justice to Roy's "Classics". I am counting the weeks until my next
meal there! I have only been to the Diamond Head location of Sam Choy's once and
it was pretty good at the time - many years ago. His BLC on Nimitz is fun for lunch
and a beer (they brew their own on premises), I like the fish and chips or the salad
of the day. They have that funky wax food display of the day's specials when you walk
in and I always wonder how they get them for every possible thing they create, I'm
sure it's an easy answer. But anyway the decor is quite interesting with the real boat
in the middle of the dining room that you can actually sit in and eat. At Christmas they
had the largest live tree you can possibly imagine at first I thought it was fake. I would
definitely suggest lunch or breakfast there.
I personally think there is no comparison in overall quality. I highly recommend visiting the Roy's 'flagship' in Hawaii Kai. It is the original location and it is a not-to-be-missed experience at least once. It is noisy, lively and lots of fun. People come dressed as they please so you're likely to see very dressed up folks and others in shorts and slippers - it all works together though. The menu features the 'classics' and new creations from ex. chef Ronnie Nasuti.
Wish that I could recall who the exec. chef was when we dined there about 8 years ago. Of the various Roy's, that was down my list - about equal to the two (next door to each other) in West Maui. Until my last visit to the Big Island, the Waikoloa restaurant was my definite favorite, though they have a new chef, and things were just so-so. Next trip back, I'll check on Ronnie Nasuti and definitely head out to that spot, if he's still there. You are about the third person to give a rec. to that location and that chef, so it's well worth the drive. Maybe I'll play Waialae Country Club, so I'm in that direction, and head over for some sunset dining.
Thanks for the comments,