In spite of frequently visiting Honolulu, we’d never dine at any of Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurants. But when we passed by one of his establishments in Anaheim, we decided to give it a try.
This Roy’s location is on Katella Avenue, on the street, at the south edge of the Garden Walk shopping and entertainment center. I use the term “shopping” pretty loosely, because there aren’t many stores in this complex. It appears to have been an unsuccessful attempt to create a non-Disney shopping and dining complex adjacent to Disneyland. The restaurants have worked out reasonably well, but the shopping hasn’t. There were alot of boarded up stores in there, and the few that were open, weren’t very busy. But I digress.
Roy’s restaurants are decidedly fusion, borrowing influences from around the Pacific Rim, and drawing from him adopted home of Hawaii. His restaurants reflect this approach, as well as the local ingredients and tastes.
We were seated on the patio shortly after we arrived. After placing our orders (we went for the “Aloha hour” appetizer specials), the server brought us some compliementary endamame beans .
Not much to say here: there’s not much to endamame. These are young soy beans, boiled, dusted with seasoned salt and served.
The appies started with the Crispy Pork & Steamed Buns
These are soft steamed buns (Shanghai style), split and filled with a slice of roasted pork belly, garnished with a slaw of green apples, matchstick carrots and purple cabbage, and drizzled with what the menu describes as a Red Dragon Sauce. This was pretty good. The steamed buns are soft and pillowy and slightly sweet. The pork belly was fatty and delicious, but not nearly as crispy as I expect (I guess I’ve become too accustomed to chinese roast pork, which crunchy crackling skin, it’s now by benchmark for roast pork belly). The sauce is complex with sweet, salty, slightly tangy, and a slight aromatic overtone that suggests the presence of sesame oil.
This was followed by the Misoyaki Butterfish Lettuce Wraps.
The term “butterfish” originates, as far as I know, from the Hawaiian islands. To the rest of North America, its black cod. It’s a delicate fatty mild white fish, marinated in miso and mirin, seared to a light char around the edges. It’s served in a butter lettuce leaf-cup, with crispy shallots and a smoked shiitake vinaigrette. These are wonderful. The fish has a smooth, delicate texture, and its mild flavor soaked up the miso and mirin for saltiness and sweetness. The fried shallots provide some crunchy savoriness.
We finished up with an ebi roll.
This is a shrimp tempura, in a sushi roll, topped with sliced avocado and mango, accented with the flavor of coconut milk, cream cheese, and drizzled with a spicy aioli. This was pretty good, although I found the addition of coconut milk to the sushi rice made the rice a tiny bit too moist. There are lots of sweet and salty tones with creaminess from the avocado.
Our server was extremely friendly, patient, knowledgeable and accommodating. She gets points for excellent service.
We were seated outside, so it’s hard to comment on the atmosphere of the interior of the restaurant. But the patio was nice, and not too crowded.