On my last night in San Diego for this trip, I wanted to have a nice, relaxing, delicious dinner. And it would be completely inexcusable to not have dinner at one of Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurants when it is one of the hotel’s restaurants. So, rather than heading into the hubbub of the Gaslamp Quarter, I slipped out the back of the restaurant to the Marina, and made my way to do the outdoor bar at Roy’s.
The first time I ate at one of Roy’s restaurants was either my first or second trip to Hawaii. Jennifer and I had gone out with her grandma for a nice dinner, and I just remember it was fantastic. So, I was really looking forward to the opportunity to go again.
I was lucky to find a seat in the corner at the bar as the place was packed, and the wait inside for a table was upwards of 45 minutes. I took my seat and ordered a Roy’s signature Mai Tai to start, and took a look at the menu. It ended up being really easy to decide what I wanted. To start I went with the Blackened Rock Shrimp and Bean soup (a closer look revealed that this was really a Portuguese Bean Soup which is one of my favorites). And for the main course I wanted to go fish, and was sold by the “Classic Trio” of salmon, ahi and butterfish (the ahi and butterfish being my two island favorites). I settled in took a drink of my Mai Tai (excellent by the way), and got ready for the relaxing and pleasant evening I was hoping for.
While I was enjoying my drink and surfing the internet (yes, I had my computer with me…) a plate of edamame appeared in front of me. It was first introduced to me by Jennifer 6 years ago, and it’s a great little snack. I order it every time I go to a Japanese restaurant, unless it’s the complimentary appetizer. This version had a nice, fairly “mild” salt on it, and was actually a nice compliment to the Mai Tai. I’d made it about halfway through the plate when the soup arrived. The soup was excellent. It was a tomato broth with Portuguese sausage, giving it a little kick. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and it didn’t take long to get through it. The only thing missing was a little piece of bread to sop up all of the remaining broth that I couldn’t get with the spoon (though I did seriously consider licking the bowl).
After the soup, I turned back to the edamame and my drink. Right about that time, the bartender accidentally dropped a glass with pieces going everywhere. Nothing made it into my drink, but he didn’t want to take any chances and replaced it for me.
Once the excitement subsided, the fish showed up. I went for the salmon first because part of me just wanted to get it out of the way before moving on to my two favorites. The salmon was good, but not great. It had a teriyaki sauce in it that was good, with a little sweetness. But, the salmon was a bit overcooked and a tad dry. Moving on to the other two fish, things definitely got better. The ahi was with a sort of slightly spicy mustard sauce and a bit of black sesame seeds. It was cooked perfectly, seared around the edges and raw in the middle. The sauce was an excellent accompaniment, adding a little bit of a kick, but not overwhelming the fish. And the butterfish was just excellent. So rich and moist and flavorful. It had a simple soy vinaigrette that provided just a bit of acidity to balance everything out. And the best part was that none of the sauces went to waste as I had a bowl of rice that I used to sop each of them up!
I thought about doing a dessert, but decided not to. I was sufficiently full and sufficiently happy as I headed back to my room. Now, with all of the restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter to check out, it might seem like a cop out, or at least a risk-free venture, to head to Roy’s for a great dinner. But, I don’t care. Whenever you have an opportunity to eat at a Top Chef Master restaurant (I’m up to 4 not counting the Chef’s Table), you just have to take advantage of it. Plus, it’s always nice when you get a great restaurant in your hotel, especially given some of the less than stellar ones I’ve had lately. So, if you get the opportunity, take it. There is nothing like great Hawaiian fusion while sitting outside on a beautiful evening.