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Jan 27, 2013 12:08 AM

Roy's or other Hawaiian food in the L.A. area?

I'm trying to come up with a nice sit-down restaurant to introduce a friend to Hawaiian food. Is Roy's any good these days? Anywhere else you recommend?

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  1. There Bob's Hawaiian Style on Western Ave and Bruddah's on Gardena Blvd. Both in Gardena.
    Now when you say Hawaiian Food is it the Laulau, poi, lomi salmon, Kalua pork or the other asian food that people may deem Hawaiian?

    1 Reply
    1. re: flylice2x

      Lomi, kalua pork, laulau -- yep. I'm realizing now that that isn't going to happen in a fancy-pants setting, so I'll drop that requirement.

      Do you have a rec for Bob's over Bruddah's, or vice versa?

    2. Piggybacking on flylice2x, contemporary Hawaiian food is really fusiony. I guess one can argue that anything that is created on The Islands is Hawaiian food, but Roy's is not what most would consider to be a classic Hawaiian ono grindz experience.

      Roy's reminds me of either Trader Vic's but executed better with a broader range of ingredients in general, or a menu at a Hawaiian Hotel frequented by more monied tourists. A lot of Roy's dishes are his own creations and higher-end in concept, prep and presentation. The vast majority of Hawaiian cuisine is far more casual, plating is no formality and the food in general is very homey and far less complicated.

      Roy's relatively formal ambiance does not inspire one to pull up at the counter in tank top, shorts and zori. Places like Back Home in Lahaina, The Loft or King's have the feel of a decent to not as casual coffee shop, and I think most who are familiar with the typical classic Hawaiian grindz cafe would think these places are kind of fancy. Many are more familiar with cafes that have a very worn feel and patina of a place that has welcomed generations of eaters from multiple decades past.

      I agree with flylice2x on those two recs. Bruddah's comes pretty close to that feel and one can usually hear lots of Hawaiian local-types speaking pidgin, both eating and working there.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bulavinaka

        Yeah, thinking this through, a better approach is probably to go with a more casual place. Roy's menu has never thrilled me -- it does feel a little touristy, and it really isn't what I think of when I think of local grindz. Bruddah's might be really fun.

        Any thoughts on Rutt's in Culver City?

        1. re: spoonlicker

          Rutt's is pretty good, especially for the Westside (Hawaiian options are almost nonexistent around the Westside unless L&L counts) but I really like lomi lomi salmon, poke and lau lau which I don't recall having there. The royales, loco moco and such are fine and the portions are large but I don't consider them to be exceptional in any way. The shave ice is also an issue - the texture was too icy. I think Brian's Shave Ice on Sawtelle and Olympic is the only game on the Westside.

          I think if you want to introduce someone to basic Hawaiian food, want a "decent" dining area, and good representations of the food, I'm thinking Back Home in Lahaina would work. I haven't been to the Manhattan Beach location. The Carson location's dining room is a little cutesy but open and pleasant. I think Bob's would be good too. Their dining area feels like a chain coffee shop but the food would probably be considered true to The Islands and more home spun.

      2. Though it's far from a dress-up place, Rutt's Cafe is charming and definitely deserves a nod. We go often for breakfast/brunch and we bring first-timers with us a lot; the food is consistently tasty, and people leave happy. The french toast is super soft -- made with hawaiian bread, can't go wrong with that. My husband always get spams masubi on the side of a filling royale. I also do the breakfast burrito sometimes. It's a pretty simple things with eggs, potatoes, bacon, then there's some medium spicy salsa and sour cream on the side if you like.

        Maybe after your more formal dinner you can squeeze in some early morning eats here. I recommend it.

        1. Though obviously not high end, the Hawaiian chicken stand at the Downtown Farmers Market (Friday at BoA Plaza Bunker Hill) is really good.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              While King's has some winners out of their bake section, I've personally been ho-hum to disappointed with their grindz. Haven't eaten there in a long time because of it. I hope more recent eaters can chime in.