Roy's (downtown) - Review (moved from LA)
I visited Roy's in downtown LA for dinner last night, for the first time...
In a nutshell - I was a bit underwhelmed by the food. It wasn't horrible - it just wasn't quite the quality of food I expected for the price point. Everything seemed over-sauced. The service was outstanding. The ambiance was nice enough (although, I sat facing the bar area and was a little distracted by the TV's in the bar area showing the basketball game)... that kind of killed the vibe for me.
Apps: We had...
--Ahi Poketini (a tuna tartare in a martini glass) - the ahi was very salty - the top pieces were a nice texture, but as you worked your way through the layers, it became progressively mushy. Overall, the flavors of the dish didn't do it for me. The caviar on top was very good!
--Spicy Tuna roll - I was surprised I didn't like this at all, as I was anticipating it to be very good. The seeweed must have been a little damp, because it was on the chewy side. The tuna itself was very good - the roll was accented with ponzu - which normally I love ponzu, but it didn't work with the flavors combined with the roll and the excess of the ponzu on the dish made the bottom of the roll soggy. It was if there were too many elements they were trying to combine in one. I ate one piece, thought this couldn't be as bad as it was... and tried another piece - only to confirm this wasn't for me.
-I had the butterfish - a large piece of fish atop a mound of steamed rice, a few green beans and a small piece of bok choy. The outside of the fish was cooked well and melted in my mouth. There was a section of the fish (towards the middle) that seemed to not be cooked enough, as it was a little chewy and there was a section where the glaze had kind of burned together into a small charred hunk. The beans were nice, but they were swimming in sauce, as was the bok choy.
-My dining companion had the Trio Sampler (2 oz each of Ahi, Butterfish, and Salmon) - he liked the salmon the best.. I tried some and didn't think it was all that different than any other miso glazed salmon I had tried, although, it was cooked perfectly (no overdone fish in this place!)
Dessert - we had the pineapple upside down cake - it was very good - a nice candied texture to the pineapple and served warm with vanilla ice cream. It was a nice ending to the meal.
For 2 apps, 2 mains, 1 dessert and 1 bottle of wine ($48) - pre-tip, the bill was $153
Can't say I'd be overly inclined to go back, although there were other items on the menu I'd be interesting in trying (like the scallops and the lobster potstickers). They plan to open on in Pasadena soon (closer to me) and I could see myself going back and getting the 3-course prix fixe ($35) which would definitely be the way to go.
I think it is consistently pretty good but inconsistently very good. I like the basic flavors of the food, but the more I eat there, the more I notice its flaws that put Water Grill and Patina in another league. Your description of the butterfish sounds like what I look for; my complaint about Roy's fish is that they tend to overcook it. It's a matter of preference and there's no way to please everyone. The food is commonly drenched in too much sauce, I agree. But I still think it's a pretty good bet. Water Grill is almost twice as expensive. Patina is kind of out of the way for most downtown workers. What's left--Engine Co. 28, Morton's, the Palm, Zucca...? I will take Roy's over these. Man I hate that hunk of onion bread at Morton's.
Coincidentally, I was at Roy's last night for dinner also and thought it was very good. Three members of our party had the butterfish and loved it I always think the fish is very well cooked and can understand the feeling that it is oversauced, but when the fish is eaten with the rice, the balance works for me. My scallops were perfect, as was my friend's mahi mahi. For appetizers, we shared the ribs (tasty, but I'm not a big rib lover), the ahi poketini (it may become mushy, but when you mix tuna tartare, wasabi creme fraiche, and other wet ingredients, that may happen; the flavors are wonderful), and the ceviche sliders (a relatively new dish, but a fabulous mix of flavors served on a wonton).
Service at Roy's always is impeccable and they are great about making sure we get out of there before theater.
I find the value at Roy's is excellent. The food is reliable and consistent, and pretty well-priced. Given the repeated disappointments I've had at other downtown restaurants (often at higher prices), I am thrilled to find someplace as consistent as Roy's.
I don't know what it is, but my wife and I have been to 3 Roy's on Maui and Kauai and multiple Roy's in California. We both agree, the Hawaii Roy's are better. Two of the best fish meals I've ever encountered came from Roy's at Kahana Beach (Maui) and Roy's @ Poipu Beach (kauai). The CA versions have been good, but don't rate great (IMO).
I have a similar view of Roy's, though a slightly different experience. I had that Trio Sampler back in November, and thought that the butterfish was the best. That meal is far too small, however, even with appetizers, for this 25 year old guy.
I will say this for the place: that souffle is pretty darn good. In fact, I liked all their desserts and I'm not huge on sweets.
I concur with your over-saucing comment, esp. with the butterfish. give me bruddah's grilled butterfish anyday over that.
however, their fried roll that they serve with their lunch bento box is mind blowing. i could eat it everyday.
i find their best value to be the sushi bento at lunch. the rest is (imho) forgettable