The first Roy's opened up in Honolulu back in 1988 by chef Roy Yamaguchi who aimed to marry his classical cooking education with the flavors and traditions of Hawaiian cuisine. Decades later, there are 20 different Roy's locations throughout the US and Asia and each serves up their own version of upscale Hawaiian cuisine. The beautiful Chicago location (located on State Street in the River North neighborhood) recently unveiled their seasonal prix fixe menu, which was created by chef Yamaguchi himself. I had a chance to sample it all last week and the flavors are fresh and delicious... like being back in the Hawaiian islands!
Our taste tour of Hawaii began with a classic Roy's Island Mai Tai. This tropical rum drink just tastes like Hawaii and Roy's version was especially smooth and well balanced. I actually enjoyed the fruity, but not overly sweet flavor more than any Mai Tai I drank in Hawaii.
Roy's also has some of the best edamame I have ever tasted. They're tossed in a flavorful combination of sweet and salty spices, which is totally different from and more flavorful than your standard salted edamame.
The first course of our prix fixe dinner began with a beautiful heirloom tomato salad. A variety of sweet and fresh colorful tomatoes were topped with fresh ricotta made in house (that had a great salty almost feta-like flavor and similar texture) with a little shiso and a creamy macadamia nut pesto. It was a perfect Hawaiian twist on a classic summer salad.
Also available for the first course: some beautiful shrimp shumai. These tender flavorful dim sum-inspired dumplings were filled with shrimp and crunchy water chestnuts with the most delicious pineapple shoyu vinaigrette. The sweetness of that vinaigrette against the savory shumai made for a really nice balance of flavors.
The main courses of this meal were a real standout. The first was a gorgeous pan-seared Hawaiian Onaga. Onaga is a Hawaiian red snapper, but this fish used in this dish can change daily depending on the freshest catch that each Roy's has access to that day. The seared fish is simply seasoned and served with shiso and a bright Vadouvan carrot puree. It was smooth and and sweet with some wonderful curry flavor in the background. Along with the puree, some roasted baby tomatoes and squash like zucchini and pattypan. The preparation and ingredients were simple, but the fresh and flavorful taste that's perfect for summer.
The second entree choice was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. This delicious Hawaiian take on surf & turf included huge Kauai grilled prawns and Kona coffee-crusted pork loin. The pork was tender and coked perfectly and the coffee crust had such a wonderful flavor. That strong coffee flavor was nicely complimented by a vibrant purple puree of coconut and Okinawan potatoes (Japanes purple sweet potatoes) along with sauteed Hoshimeji mushrooms and crisp bok choy. It was a beautiful presentation and a wonderful combination of flavors.
This Hawaiian prix fixe dinner finished on a high note with a delicious white chocolate tart. This cheesecake-like tart had a delicate crust, creamy filling lightly flavored with white chocolate and was dotted with a sweet passionfruit gel. The tart was accompanied by an amazing light and tropical passionfruit sorbet. This light and sweet dessert was the perfect way to end a decadent island-inspired meal.
The Roy’s Eat Creative Hawaii Prix Fixe Menu is available at most Roy's locations this summer for just $39.95 per guest before tax and gratuity. And that delicious mai tai is available for $9.90. Want to try it yourself? Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a $50 dining card to use at Roy's!