We were looking for a place to eat during my last Hawaiian
vacation. I purchased the Zagat 2000 guide for Hawaii in
May of 2001, so I perused that looking for ideas. My mom
wanted a steak, so I started looking at steakhouses.
I started spouting off names and descriptions, hoping for
responses. I mentioned Roy's Nicolina Restaurant in Lahaina,
as it was rated very highly, and my dad pipes up and says,
"Hey, they just opened a Roy's right here in Kihei." It
turns out that this place is in the Safeway plaza, right
across from an Outback steakhouse. The owner of the chain,
a Japanese chef named Roy Yamaguchi, has opened Roy's
restaurants all over the world, from Tokyo to New York.
We called from the car and made a reservation for 7:30pm.
Luckily, we didn't have to stop home to get changed - the
hostess said that colored shirts were preferred, but that
t-shirts were okay too. We pull into the plaza, and I ask
where the heck this place is; my dad points it out and I
exclaim "oh" as I had just seen the place the other night,
but didn't realize it was this upper crust kind of place,
being in the middle of a shopping plaza and all.
We were seated about five minutes after we arrived. A
whirlwind of servers sat us down, drew our napkins across
our laps, and removed the extraneous dishes and
accoutrements instantaneously. I was amazed, and knew it
for a sign of things to come. I sat up very straight, and
put on my best "dining out aura". Whenever I go into this
mode, I make sure to thank each server for everything they
do, and prepare myself for the complete dining experience,
projecting a discriminating gourmet attitude towards the
The menu looked scrumptious, and I knew right off the bat
what I had to have. I also wanted to get some sake. My dad
muttered that he wasn't such a big fan of sake the few
times he'd tried it. I ordered the "rain" sake, as it was
infused with ginger and I thought would complement our
dinner choices well (I ordered duck, my dad ordered
blackened a'hi tuna, my mom a filet mignon).
The manager brought it to our table and explained how this
sake that he was opening was the first ever to be produced
outside of Japan, that it was their own variety. He went on
to say things about the rice and the quality - I noticed
that the bottle he was holding had condensation on it, so I
asked him if the sake was served room temperature. His
response was that sake of lesser quality was served heated
because that removes impurities and improves the taste;
really good sake is best served cold. He then asked if I
would like an ice bucket to keep it cool while we sipped it,
and I said yes, thank you very much.
The sake was amazing. My dad tried some, and the
expression on his face was astonishment. "This is sublime,"
he exclaimed. My mom responded similarly. I was completely
floored; and it just kept getting better. A server zoomed
by with hot, crusty little loaves of bread, and swiftly
placed three on our table with little silver tongs.
I ordered Hot and Sour soup. Again, it was astounding. All
the flavors mingled, but stood out on their own; not too
hot, and not too sour, but both could be tasted
independantly. Hearty little chunks of pineapple and rings
of calamari accented the dish wonderfully. My parents
ordered a dim sum boat of appetizers - this was a boat for
two, but my dad asked the server if it could be made for
three. The server checked, came back and said "no problem".
I have never had such tasty dim sum appetizers. And when I
say tasty, I mean flavorful like you wouldn't believe. I
could taste each and every ingredient in the spring roll;
the baby back pork rib was tender and juicy with a
beautiful mesquite flavor; the shrimp skewer was delicious;
the seafood potstickers were a delight; and the raw a'hi
tuna (poke, pronounced poke-AY) covered with salmon roe was
utterly transcendant. Each item in the boat had its own
little salad and sauce surrounding it to complement it.
Next came the entrees. So far, everything was delectable -
now, the true test.
None of us were disappointed. The duck was everything I had
imagined it would be, and more; once again, I could taste
both the plum and mandarin orange flavors in concert in the
dragon sauce drizzled all over the plate. The duck meat was
expertly prepared, not greasy or tough in the slightest,
and it was cut into bite sized morsels and rearranged into
one unit - I didn't even have to pick up the knife. A piece
of crunchy steamed bok choy dressed the meat, and it sat
atop a hill of mashed hawaiian sweet potato, the yummy
purple yam of the islands. The ginger sake matched
completely with the luscious citrus flavors in this dish.
My father had gotten the a'hi tuna rare, and indeed, it was
cooked to perfection. The meat was lightly seared on the
outside, but the inside was uniformly tender and not at all
chewy as rare meat can sometimes be. It was joined with a
mustard and wasabi sauce that dressed it very nicely. My
mother's filet was also cut in the same fashion as my duck
- but her meat came on a bed of chili, and the steak was
infused with this flavor, almost as if it were some kind of
homage to American cuisine (steak/chili/Texas... or
Then, at last - DESSERT. When the entrees arrived, I
ordered the chocolate souffle a la mode and my mom ordered
a macadamia nut pie to share between her and my dad (the
server had advised us to do so for these dishes, as they
took at least twenty minutes to prepare). After cleaning up
the dinner plates, our desserts were brought... and they
looked every bit like what I thought they would. Mom's pie
was set atop a macaroon and beside a hollowed out bowl made
of whipped cream that was filled with chocolate sauce. My
soufflee was at least three inches high and not burned in
the slighest, covered with powdered sugar and sitting
beside a scoop of vanilla ice cream, while the exposed
bottom of the plate was drizzled in raspberry sauce.
I almost can't go into the details of eating this dessert
without using graphically sexual language. Orgasmic doesn't
even begin to describe how good it was. The inside was
molten chocolate; as soon as my fork spread the souffle
apart, the hot ambrosia spilled out, mixing with the
melting ice cream and raspberry sauce. Hot and cold and
crunchy and moist and chocolate and vanilla and raspberry...
it was heaven.
The entire thing was a perfect meal. Everything was cooked
exactly the way it should have been, and all the flavors
complemented each other in precisely the right way. There
were only two very minor flaws that deducted a few points
from the experience: the decor was lovely - except for the
fact that you could look out the luxuriously large picture
windows lining the front and see a huge neon SAFEWAY sign.
All they need is to put a little frosting on the lower
halves of the glass, and they're all set. Second, my mom
was a little disappointed that the server did not offer us
coffee with our desserts. But these were the only things
wrong with the meal. The price was about 65 bucks a plate -
but I would pay it every time to get a dinner like that.
My parents are considering moving to Maui; they've been
looking at houses and are trying to figure out a way to
make it work for them in the near future... I myself would
move here - just so I could eat at this restaurant
every night for the rest of my life.