Roy Yamaguchi’s Summer Menu
Need a vacation? Want to escape and just can’t get away? Well travel over to Roy’s Restaurant and say “ALOHA!” Take a night off, relax and treat yourself to some outstanding Hawaiian Cuisine. Denise, my wife and I were fortunate to spend the evening at Roy’s Newport Beach with Chef Edgar Agbayani and be the first to be treated to the new limited edition “Summer Menu”. We valet parked the car which is a great idea, this parking lot is huge. The restaurant shares the space with another Outback Restaurant Fleming’s Steakhouse and is in the Fashion Island Center of Newport Beach. Shopping and dining is the order for the day here. Roy’s isn’t a place to where the just serve you great food and drinks but Roy’s is a place where your treated like “Ohana”, Hawaiian for family.
A little bit about the chef. Edgar was born in a small town, Delano California in the San Joaquin Valley. Growing up in farm country ignited the chef’s passion for local fresh produce. Edgar’s earliest memories of food were those days spent with his grandparents on the farm picking grapes and barbequing a hog. The chef spent his high school summers working the fishing boats in Kodiak Alaska where much of his family now lives. Talk about a hard working guy, life on a fishing boat is hard work. So when it comes to knowing great fresh fish, the chef “Knows” great fresh fish. After high school Edgar migrated to Scottsdale Arizona where he went to the famous La Cordon Blue Culinary institute while working at Roy’s Scottsdale in his spare time. Eventually Edgar made it to southern California, working in Japanese restaurants making bento boxes. His culinary journey led him eventually to be executive chef at Roy’s.
Edgar has great relationships with many local farmers and spends countless hours hunting down the best produce that southern California has to offer. He favors some fine produce from the Temecula Valley. For seafood, it’s Santa Barbara Spotted Prawns, local halibut and sea bass from local day boats. Off days are spent with his wife dining at some of his local favorite restaurants or just dreaming of new foods and what’s next on the menu. Psst! He’s a newlywed so remember to congratulate him.
The summer menu was created by Chefs Edgar Abayani and Roy’s Corporate Chef Kiel Lambardo. Many of Roy’s menus are developed jointly by a team of more than 24 chefs lead by Kiel. With that much talent it’s easy to see why Roy’s is so successful. Let me share a bit about Chef Kiel Lombardo. Kiel is a long time 11 year plus veteran with Roy’s Restaurants. Kiel grew up and cooking in New England at Italian restaurants since he was 15 years old. Kiel has been at the stove for Roy’s in Chicago, Philadelphia and Tampa. When Kiel is not in one of the more than 22 Roy’s restaurants he spends time with the master himself Roy Yamaguchi, opening restaurants, testing new menu items and cooking for special events all across the USA.
Now on to our dining event – the summer menu. We were greeted at the door by Tegan and Amanda who graciously escorted us to our table. We were shortly joined by Chef Edgar and given a complete tour of the kitchen. What a treat! A first-hand look at all of the food stations along with some shared secrets. We could see and smell the action in the kitchen as we watched fabulous plates of seafood prepared before our eyes with Edgar’s sous chef Rachel at the helm. Back at our table there were three cocktails waiting served by Jessica. Be sure to ask for Jessica at Roy’s Newport for some outstanding service. We sipped on the Classic Original Hawaiian Martini made with SKYY Vodka, Stoli Vanilla Vodka & Malibu Coconut Rum. Alongside of the martini we shared a Roy’s Island Mai Tai with Cruzan Black Strap Rum. Wow!!! Edgar joins us with the 1988 Martini made with Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, SOHO Lychee & Patrón Citrónge. Talk about great beginnings. Treat yourself to one of these outstanding cocktails.
We began our tasting adventure with an appetizer of Rock Shrimp & Peaches accented with Thai Basil, Mint, Breakfast Radish, Honshimenji and Nam Pla which was a perfect match with the Hawaiian Martini. The manager on duty Hamilton Blake brought to the table the staff’s favorite appetizer the Hokkaido Scallop Roll Tempura Unagi, Snow crab, Avocado & Ko Chu Jang Aioli.
It is the perfect comp anion to the Heirloom Tomato & Crispy Mozzarella Salad. This light summer plate combines beautiful local tomatoes, Tatsoi and Frisee lettuce lightly dressed with Creamy Shiso vinaigrette. We carried the wine onto a Teppanyaki Mahi Mahi with Sesame Spinach, Kohlrabi Puree, and Korean Chili Sauce. Another wonderful combination.
Oscar clears thetable so we could take a small break. I needed to stand up, stretch and make some more room for what’s to come. Hamilton brings another Bell Wine Cellars, specifically their 2007 Syrah. A very complex wine with blackberry, leather, black cherry and pepper flavors. A nicely balanced wine with a terrific finish. The wine was outstanding with my favorite cut of meat, the hangar steak. And Roy’s has a Porcini Dusted Hangar Steak with Creamed Collards, Crispy Onion Rings, and Asian A-1 sauce. Unbelievable.
If you are in southern California August 9 – 12, visit with Roy Yamaguchi and Kiel Lombardo at the Los Angeles Food and Wine Event. They’ll be serving up some of the best Hawaiian morsels you’ll ever taste.Roy’s is open for dinner seven nights a week. Call your local Roy’s for reservations and check out the “Aloha Hour”. Great food and drinks at happy hour prices.
By Robert Sturm