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Roy's Hawaiian Fusion -- group lunch report [SF]

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My office had a group lunch -- somewhere between 30 and 40 people -- at Roy's this afternoon. Looking at their website, it appears it was their standard group luncheon: http://www.roysrestaurant.com/private...

In a word: mediocre. The food tended towards the bland: underseasoned and/or accompanied by sweetish sauces. I had the "Tender Braised Garlic Mustard Charred Beef Short Ribs" which is better described by removing the phrase "garlic mustard charred." I looked for a salt shaker, but there was none to be found. Also on the plate was a disk of okay mashed potatoes, one small stalk of over-grilled broccoli rabe, one baby carrot and two smaller-than-pencil stalks of asparagus -- altogether maybe an ounce of vegetables. At least the short rib portion was a generous size: the piece of salmon next to me was tiny -- maybe three ounces --and the mahi mahi wasn't much bigger. The salmon at least came with some rice and some kind of pickled salad - -the mahi mahi was resting on ONE cross-section slice of potato about half an inch thick, with a couple of the tiny asparagus stalks draped across it. Looking at the pictures on the site, I see the macadamia-nut crusted mahi mahi was supposed to have actual pieces of nuts, while what I saw was more like a ground-nut coating. I didn't hear much enthusiasm for any of those dishes -- on the way out, my colleague with the mahi mahi said "that was ... okay."

The appetizer "canoe" was also only okay. I see on the website it was supposed to have Szcechuan Baby Back Ribs, but they subbed edamame. Pork ribs = edamame? I don't think so. The salad on the menu is instead of the appetizers, not in addition to. The vegetarian at our table did get the salad, and as an entree the only generous portion I saw: four slabs of grilled tofu, a scoop of plain (!) rice, and some green beans and another green vegetable (looked like whatever that green version of baby bok choi is called).

Dessert was a little better, although not at all Hawaiian or fusion: a small square of pumpkin cheesecake, a mini pecan tartlet and a mini creampuff with chocolate cream filling on a plate with a squiggle of raspberry sauce (their kitchen is apparently well stocked with squeeze bottles). Creative or inspired it wasn't, but at least it tasted good.

Service was fine. At peak capacity the room was verging on too loud for conversation: not really what you want for a group sitting at big tables. Compared to our luncheon last year at Town Hall ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4587... ), this was a real disappointment.

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  1. I've had terrific meals at Roy's in Poipu, HI year s ago; it was one of our favorite splurges!

    But Roy's in Maui was equally underwhelming, just a few weeks ago (Oct 3). The first night there we ordered a chocolate souffle and a nice red wine, for dessert only (having eaten dinner elsewhere) at the bar, and that was great. Sooo, we figured it would be great for for dinner on a subsequent night. . . .it turned out not so great; poor service, a decent $25 appetizer platter (seemed realty expensive for the quantity of food), but we left after that. The room was in the second floor of a strip mall near Napil, and totally vacant. It just felt weird so we bailed and went out to another location of drinks and dessert, skipping dinner that night.

    1. We had an office function there once and I ordered the meat loaf. The portion size was huge and it tasted like, well, meat loaf.

      1. any recent reports on roy's?

        6 Replies
        1. re: vulber

          Nothing terribly recent, but more recent than this posting. I did go there about a couple years ago and found it unremarkable - reminded me of a Hawaiian version of Legal Seafoods. Does anyone have a more recent report?

          1. re: vulber

            We had another office lunch there more recently, which left no impression on me at all. IMHO there's no excuse for going to Roy's in San Francisco -- there are so many better options at (or below) that price range.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              fair enough, i've never been. but as someone who's always been intrigued by restaurants like alan wong (which i never made it to), is it not worth going for the attempt at hawaiian fusion cuisine?

              1. re: vulber

                IMHO, no. I don't think eating at Roy's in San Francisco is a good representation of "authentic" Hawaiian fusion (and I've been to Roy's in Oahu). It's a corporate chain catering to the masses. Any of the original inspiration has been homogenized out of it.

            2. re: vulber

              Maybe the only Roy's really worthwhile is the original in the Hawaii Kai section of Honolulu. Some have liked the one in Poipu, Kauai and Waikiki. I wouldn't bother with any mainland renditions of Roy's.

              1. re: vulber

                Another office lunch at Roy's -- smaller group this time so we ordered off the menu. Looking back at the descriptions of the dishes above, I see that not much (if anything) has changed. In fact, the dishes looked exactly the same. And that's really the problem: there's no spark of creativity or vision coming from a chef. Just some competent cooks turning out the same now-trite dishes over and over for years.

                The service was kind of off-putting, too. A competent but falsely cheerful waitress who said everything was good and there were no bad choices. It all felt rote and perfunctory.

                In essence, it had all the hallmarks of a chain restaurant: competent food carefully designed for mass appeal cooked and served by people who were doing their jobs, and no more.