Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Roy's Eat Creative Media Dinner

It's no secret that Mr Minx and I are big fans of Roy's and have been semi-regular patrons of the Baltimore branch since it opened 13 years ago. And while we're very happy to pay for our food at Roy's, it's even more fun to go when the food is on the house, as it was during a recent media dinner. The occasion for the dinner was to celebrate the launch of Roy's renewed culinary focus called Eat Creative, which showcases the very best of Pacific Rim cuisine.

Pacific Rim Cosmotini
(photo credit: Roy's)
We started the party at the bar with a round of Pacific Rim cosmotinis, a combination of blood orange, passion fruit, and ginger flavors with vodka. Once at our table, we were presented with a couple of the restaurant's new appetizers, including the misoyaki butterfish lettuce wraps, a twist on both traditional chicken lettuce wraps and the restaurant's famed misoyaki butterfish entree. We also got a taste of the new ebi roll, which adds coconut and cream cheese to the familiar tempura shrimp and avocado maki. It's served with dabs of habanero aioli and nitsume (eel sauce). We also sampled two items from Roy's bar menu, starting with the crispy pork belly buns, tender steamed Chinese bao containing crispy bits of pork belly, green apple slaw, and the sweet bbq-like Red Dragon sauce. While I think the buns themselves were a bit too large, the flavors and textures were appealing. Finally, we had bites of Roy's new Wagyu burger. A simple affair of juicy meat, caramelized onions, truffled mushrooms, a fried egg, and togarashi aioli, this burger is a contender for the Best in Town crown. Perhaps truffled mushrooms and eggs don't seem particularly simple to you, but none of the burger's toppings stood in the way of the main event: the meat itself. The accompanying onion rings, however, were, in a word, meh.

Misoyaki Butterfish Lettuce Wraps (photo credit: Roy's)
Close-up of Ebi Roll (photo credit: Roy's)
As an intermission, we each received our own Maui Wowie salad, a classic Roy's dish that was created at the Baltimore restaurant and served chain-wise.

Full-sized Lobster Pot Pie (see slide show for size we received) (photo credit: Roy's)
Alaea Salt-Crusted Bone-In Ribeye (photo credit: Roy's)
We then received an embarrassment of riches in the form of entrees: the 14-oz Alaea salt-crusted bone-in ribeye with peppercorn shoyu brandy sauce; a Maine lobster pot pie with potatoes, peas, honshimeji mushrooms, and pearl onions; and a tempura-battered whole snapper with a sweet chili sauce. And there were sides, too: truffled bacon mac & cheese with Thai basil bread crumbs; spicy Korean chili fried rice with scallions, cilantro, sesame, and egg; and a selection of over-sized tempura vegetables that included asparagus, broccolini, carrot, and shiitake mushrooms. The steak was a beautiful thing, pink, juicy and perfectly rested, with great flavor. I've always said that Roy's does land-based proteins as well as (or better than) the seafood for which they are most famous, and I stand by that. The lobster pot pie had a decidedly Thai twist with its coconut milk-based "gravy," and the proportion of lobster to everything else was generous. Also generous was the portion size, which we were surprised to find was a mere fraction of the normal portion size of this dish. In fact, all three of the entrees were on the huge side, which makes them particularly good for eating family-style with one's own ohana. The sides, also sized for sharing, were uniformly good. The mac and cheese was not the overly-decadent cream-fest that so many highfalutin' versions of this dish can be, and while I couldn't see the bacon, I could taste it. The tempura was light and crisp, and broccolini was a nice change from the usual common broccoli. My favorite was the Korean fried rice, which would have made a lovely entree on its own if topped with a fried egg.

Finally, dessert, which we wanted in theory but not in practice - we were so full! The classic melting chocolate souffle and pineapple upside down cake were as delicious as ever, and always a fine way to end a meal at Roy's.

During the evening, we also had the opportunity to meet the new Chef Partner at Baltimore's Roys, Matt Ellis, who comes to us from various Roy's in Florida. He's stepped into the big shoes of Opie Crooks and Rey Eugenio and seems to be filling them well. We also had a chat with Managing Partner Bryson Keens. He revealed something big that I think we all wish we had known earlier: Roy's offers shuttle service from your home to the restaurant and back. For locals as well as tourists! This means no worrying about parking or driving home after having too many Hawaiian martinis or Mai Tais!

The photos in this post are not ours, sadly, but the work of a professional photographer. The lighting wasn't the best that night (Roy's is on the dark side) so our photos aren't of the best quality. But you can check 'em out in the slideshow below.

Roy's Hawaiian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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