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By Steven Li on 2005-12-24

December 24, 2005

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Note: I’ve concluded that my camera refuses to take good pictures at restaurants where the average entree exceeds $20. Either that or my photo taking skills really suck. Sigh. They do suck. Notice how everything is so yeeeellllow?

Kristen called for an impromptu dinner at Roy’s in Hawaii Kai tonight. We haven’t seen each other for nearly two years even though we call each other on a weekly basis. Having spent the summer after graduation doing nothing but eating wonderful meals at La Mer and afternoon teas at the Mandarin and Halekulani it was only appropriate that we meet again over a lovely dinner.

For appetizers we had crabcakes with a coconut cream sauce and panko crusted coconut shrimp (no picture, although it would have turned out all yellow anyways). I know, lots of coconut, perhaps a little too much as the coconut flavor overpowered both dishes. The crabcakes were very dense and meaty – no “fillers” here! Plenty of pepper and garlic were the central to the pure and simple cakes. Just avoid the sauce unless you’re looking for coconut overkill. The shrimp was more or less coconut flavored shrimp tempura. Enjoyable, but nothing out of the ordinary.
I had the Goose with Taro Mashed Potatoes as an entree. Thin slices of goose were arranged around a mound of sweet mashed taro. There was some heavy handling of coconut milk in the potatoes. By this point of the meal, all I could think was “stop it with the coconut!!!” Aside from that, you can’t really go wrong with mashed taro. The goose was roasted (a little too long in my opinion) and served with a thick shoyu “gravy.” Though satisfying, I was not very impressed with the dish. A restaurant as highly acclaimed as Roy’s can certainly do better. At it’s best, the individual components were enjoyable on their own. At it’s worst, the entree was boring, confused, overcooked, and heavy.

Kristen and I both have a sinful obsession with sweets and desserts of any sort so we started off the dessert extravaganza with the Neopolitian Creme Brulee. Three egg shaped balls of creme brulee were placed on top thin tuile cookies, sprinkled with sugar and torched till nice and crisp. The flavors (left to right) were dark chocolate, hazelnut and strawberry. The chocolate was my favorite of the trio, dark and more bitter than sweet, it was creamy and very thick (I like my brulee nice and “thick”). The hazelnut and strawberry were just decent though the flavors were not strong enough to elicit anything more than “that was good.” The chef hid an entire strawberry inside the strawberry brulee, leaving me feel ever so slightly ripped off – there was more strawberry than brulee!
Next was the White Chocolate Eggnog Cheesecake with Hazelnut Gelato. The cheesecake was cut into four small triangles, showcasing the dark chocolate center of the cake (the menu said white chocolate but no one mentioned dark…) The cheesecake tasted like eggnog heavily spiced with cinnamon and surprisingly complemented the hazelnut speckled gelato. We also had the Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle a la Mode. This is a Roy’s “classic.” It’s a predictable dish that’s now on the menu of every other restaurant, but something I enjoy nonetheless. Roy’s does an excellent version of what I call the “three sensation dessert.” First, the crisp shell of the cake, then a thin layer of moist chocolate cake followed by intense warm chocolate pudding/fudge/goop. Alternate spoonfuls of the souffle and ice cream till you feel like you’re on the verge of a heart attack. Then move onto the next dessert.
To finish: Mango, Pear and Cranberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream. Unlike most cobblers where the fruit is soft, both the mangoes and cranberries remained crisp after baking beneath the nuttry shortbread crust. The cobbler relied on the sweetness and flavors of the fruits, tiny cubes of juicy sweet mangoes, tart ripe cranberries and the mellow comfort of pears. A side of ice cream was an appropriate complement to the warm baked fruits.

Ahh, it was an indulgent dinner. Sugar high anyone? The meal itself was not the best I’ve had at Roy’s. I feel as if they’ve really gone downhill on quality control since opening all their mainland branches. But I was here to see Kristen and the company made an okay dinner almost delicious. Who else would eat that much dessert with me! I shall sleep well tonight.



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