Chef Roy's Special Tasting Menu - Intriguing New Creations by A Legendary Chef
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
You have from now until Sunday, September 8 to reserve your seat for a wonderfully prepared tasting menu created by Legendary Master Chef Roy Yamaguchi. Even though some of you have tried everything on Roy's menu and may have the impression that this is something you've already done, I'm sure you'll be delighted by the new creations that are being prepared at Roy's this week. The presentations were magnificent, and I am still having food fantasies when I see some of the photos I took. One of these days we'll embed a few shots in our review.
Roy Yamaguchi is one of the original members of the dozen chefs who founded the Hawai'i Regional Cuisine movement in 1991. Among his peers were Alan Wong, Peter Merriman, Sam Choy, Mark Ellman, Bev Gannon, Jean-Marie Josselin, Gary Strehl, Roger Dikon, George Mavrothalassitis, and Amy Ferguson Ota. Talk about talent and an ambitious group who forever changed the culinary landscape of Hawaii, and the world. Roy was at that time considered one of the bright stars, destined for a greatness beyond having a great local eatery, Roy's Restaurant in Hawai'i Kai. His wood-smoked Szechwan-style baby back ribs caused a sensation then and still excite palates today! As a food reviewer, I just want you to know that we are privileged to have such a reputable and acclaimed chef conceiving and achieving culinary excellence on our island.
The menu options are quite simple. You start off with a Spicy Ahi Poketini with Avocado and Masago Tobiko, followed by a Butter Garlic Seared U-10 Shrimp with Paella Risotto and Saffron Lobster Broth. These two were terrific starters that were seductive teasers to the main course choices that followed.
You may choose one of the following four entrees: Herb Crusted Salmon with Cassoulet of Ham Hock and Tripe; Two Way Duck Star Anise Braised and Pan Roasted with Steamed Mango Coconut Rice and Spicy Green Beans; Stir Fry Spicy Lobster and Crab with Mint and Crispy Noodles; and Singaporean Style U-10 Scallops With Black Pepper Sauce. The dessert was inspired decadence - a Macadamia Chocolate Cake with Coconut Macaroon. Limited to two selections, we chose the Salmon and the Lobster main dishes.
The Spicy Ahi Poketini was one of those remarkable creations that gives us yet another way to appreciate Ahi! Stunningly presented in a "martini cocktail glass" this dish looked more like a decoration for a New Year's party with the brightly colored blends of seaweed, chili paste, avocado, and rice. It would be awesome served wrapped like a sushi roll, Roy later told me. We blended this mixture with our chopsticks (you have to request them) and savored this new appetizer, which is definitely "pika!"(some of you may even want seconds!)
The next course was what I can only describe as a "mini-entree", since I thought it could have easily have been a main course if only it were larger. The U-10 Shrimp are a certain grade and size of shrimp (prawns) that maintain a high texture and quality. The original prawn Roy uses in Hawai'i is a Kauai Prawn, however, transporting it to Guam, even by air, would compromise its appearance and quality - alas they can only be served fresh in-state! The U-10 served us well. Imagine butter and garlic seared plump juicy shrimp that are laid across a golden blend of a risotto/paella hybrid (a novel concept) and drizzled with a saffron laced lobster broth. Righteous! Chunks of clam, mussel and chicken with big green peas dotting the thick sauced rice - this was bliss.
The Herb Crusted Salmon was perfectly grilled, seared to keep the moisture inside to reveal the luscious pink meat inside. The salmon was mounted atop what appeared to be a mixture of mushrooms and mixed meats - which could only be identified after tasting - actually by texture - as tripe and ham hock. The sauce was rich, deep, and heavy...a reduction of veal and ham hock, with red wine.
The Stir Fry Spicy Lobster and Crab exploded with flavor, and had lots of baby lobster tails that were braised in a lively sauce. The crab meat was blended in with the thick fresh noodles that had been fried crisp, only to absorb the ginger-laced sauce. Red and yellow bell peppers adorned the mixture with mint leaves adding a green flair. Shiitake mushroom chunks were mixed in...just another element elevating this entree to stardom...it was that good!
You just may need a permission slip from the doctor to eat the decadent dessert. The same rich chocolate used to make Roy's signature Hot Chocolate Souffle is used here. The Coconut Macaroon gives the bottom a lot of slow-chewing texture...you can't eat it too fast, so you are forced to savor the flavor of the chocolate, macadamia nuts, and coconut...it's enough to make you dizzy!
As I said earlier, we need to count our blessings. Thank you, Roy, and Mahalo!