Roy's Restaurant, Downtown Los Angeles
The other night, my dear J had a 20-hour stop back home in LA before going on to the next show in Oakland. I rushed home from work and we went through the "Where do you want to go to dinner?" debate until we both decided that we really wanted seafood. We really don't know a lot of seafood-specific restaurants in town. Water Grill is great if you want to spend a grip, and places like McCormick & Schmidt's just give me The Waz. (The Waz is a term that J made up- it's that antsy, anxious feeling that kids get when their parents keep them at Target too long, or in church, etc). Since I wasn't feeling sushi, I did a little online search on LATimes.com and came up with Roy's.
Roy's is a chain of high-end Asian Fusion restaurants started by chef Roy Yamaguchi. Although I had read about it a few times, I wasn't too familiar with the restaurants and didn't really know what to expect. After a quick glance at the few menu items listed on their website, we decided to take a chance. I have to admit, I was a bit worried that it may be a chain in the vein of Outback Steakhouse (read: on the expensive side but still bad, large food) but the website looked promising.
The Downtown location is quite nice- it's on the corner of Figueroa and 8th and the floor-to-ceiling windows showcases a nice, street-level view of Staples Center and a few other buildings. It feels very urban, almost like New York. As we were looking through the menu, our waiter came over and asked if we wanted to order drinks. We were torn between two New Zealand sauvignon blancs so the waiter offered to let us taste both. He brought over those two and an additional glass that contained the one French sauvignon blanc they had. I have to admit, I was really impressed that he would offer and we actually ended up liking the French one best.
Everything on the menu sounded delicious, and our waiter explained a few items to us. We decided to share the Yellow Fin Ahi Poketini w/ Wasabi Aioli, Avocado and Tobiko Caviar which is one of their signature appetizers. Although the cynical side of me just wanted to roll my eyes at the kitschy name (Poketini??), the cheerful and helpful nature of our server made me think twice about it and I kept my eyeballs in check. When the beautiful martini glass piled high with sliced ahi and daikon sprouts arrived, I took off my Critical Cap and put it away for good. We both loved the fresh fish combined with a lovely crème fraiche that had just the right amount of wasabi mixed in- I could tasted a good bit of wasabi flavor but I didn't burn all of my nose hairs off either. We were happy.
When it came to order my entree, I couldn't decide between a Katsu-style Ono with Salmon Rice or the Green Curry Steamed Barramundi with Thai Black Rice. I knew I wanted the barramundi but I also wanted the salmon rice- what to do? I asked the waiter which one he recommended, and he said that he'd go for the barramundi and he would bring me a small dish of the salmon rice so I could try it. At this point I wouldn't have cared if they served me mud pies- our waiter made the night! Ok, I may have cared about mud pies but you get the idea. J decided to go for a Roy's combination plate which featured three of his signature dishes- the Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish w/ Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette, Hibachi Style Grilled Salmon w/
Japanese Vegetables and Citrus Ponzu Sauce and the Roy’s Original Hawaiian Blackened Island Ahi w/ Spicy Soy Mustard Butter.
J's plate came and and it was a stunner. Each part of the trio came on a small, white plate along with a small plate of white rice and were artfully arranged on a large, wooden board. Everything tasted as good as it looked- the ahi with the spicy mustard butter was outstanding, and I loved the not-too-sweet teriyaki on his hibachi style salmon. Wow. My barramundi was perfectly cooked and I loved the green curry flavor- unfortunately the pool of pineapple tamarind sauce underneath it was a bit too fruity for me- but I generally don't like fruity sauces so I probably shouldn't have ordered it. If you like sweet/tart sauces, this is the dish for you. We both loved the salmon rice and agreed that we'd have to eat it again. At this point we were just both completely satisfied and frankly, surprised. I guess I've been living under a rock, but I just assumed that Roy's, being a worldwide chain, would be all about huge portions dripping with too-heavy sauces. I was totally wrong- the food was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.
Roy’s Original Hawaiian Blackened Island Ahi w/ Spicy Soy Mustard Butter
I have to give a quick shout out to Sergio, our waiter. He really made our experience wonderful, and it's nice to see someone who takes so much pride in their work. He told us that he's been with Roy's for six years (Chicago and other locations- the downtown one is less than a year old) and that he really loves the food. He was gracious, patient and his recommendations were right on. So thank you Sergio- every restaurant should have a server like you!
Sergio- you rock!
We didn't have room for dessert, but from what I could tell, they looked delicious. I'm really happy to say that I think J and I have found a new dinner destination. I highly recommend it.
Address: 800 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: (213) 488-4994