Heading out to Ko Olina for brunch
Friday - January 02, 2009
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There’s time enough for talk of diets tomorrow. As we enter the first week of the year - and the last weekend of a long holiday celebration - there’s no better meal before you swear off rich foods forever than a hearty brunch.
Mention Roy’s Restaurants and most people think of an evening spent enjoying Asian-fusion foods and dishes like blackened ahi, misoyaki butter-fish and Mongolian spiced baby back ribs that have become classics over the past 20 years.
For most of us, a taste of Roy’s is part of a memorable evening.
But over at Ko Olina, Roy’s general manager Louis Barnett and executive chef Darryl Shinogi want to change all that.
“We know that people always think of Roy’s for dinner,” says Barnett. “Now we want them to know that we’re one of the few Roy’s Restaurants where you can have lunch and brunch, too.”
What’s appealing about the prospect of a Sunday brunch at Roy’s is that there’s a mini menu of those classic dishes alongside the breakfast entrees.
“We realized when we were conceptualizing this menu that people come to Roy’s expecting to see certain dishes on the menu.” says Barnett.“Why should that be any different at brunch?”
So alongside steak and eggs and Haupia French Toast, expect to see Roy’s Original Blackened Island Ahi ($32/36), and Misoyaki Marinated Butterfish ($35.50).
For those who enjoy a departure from the norm at brunch, there are interesting choices on the menu. After years spent at La Mer and the rigors of fine din ing, Shinogi is enjoying a measure of creative freedom at Roy’s.
“I’d been doing French cooking for 14 years,” he explains.“The exciting thing about Roy’s is that there’s freedom within the disciplines you’ve learned.”
At Ko Olina, he’s taken a mixture of his French classical training, Roy’s influence and a love of local foods to create one of the most interesting brunch menus in Honolulu.
Start with Ochazuke of Hibachi Salmon served with Japanese Green Tea. “It’s a classic Japanese breakfast, of course,” says Shinogi. “I cook the salmon in the salamander (portable burner) and it comes out nice and brown, and then I roast the skin, break it up and add that to the furikake to give a nice texture and flavor.”
Another of Shinogi’s personalized dishes is the Monte Cristo with fresh fruit garnish ($14).
“It’s a ham-and-cheese sandwich,” he jokes of the bite-sized, sweet and savory morsels that are flattened then dipped in tempura batter, lightly fried and then dusted with powdered sugar.
Shinogi, who confesses to a love of saimin, will even make you a bowl of soup, if that’s what you feel like for breakfast.
“We have yakisoba noodles on the menu,” he says, “so we could make that for brunch if someone wanted it.”
One of the most popular choices from the a la carte brunch menu is a 12-ounce prime rib that’s carved to order and comes with Roy’s-style hash browns and steamed vegetables.
“The prime rib is really popular,” says Barnett.“There’s a little crust on it and a great horseradish sauce. It’s a fabulous dish.”
With a view across the golf course at Ko Olina, a casually elegant ambience, a friendly and upbeat staff, and a bar that sits atop a waterfall, there are few places this side of the island that compare.
“It’s the only place, pretty much, to come for a Sunday brunch on this side of the island,” says Barnett. “And most people enjoy the fact that it’s not a buffet but a relaxed atmosphere and a reasonably priced menu.”
Try the Imperial Seafood Fried Rice topped with Sunnyside Eggs ($15) for a twist on a local favorite, Crab Cake Benedict ($24), or a Roy’s Style Bento that comes as a platter of sashimi, grilled teri chicken, shrimp and vegetable tempura with yakisoba noodles ($22).
The famous Dim Sum Canoe is available at brunch, too, featuring many of the appetizers that made Roy’s famous: Mongolian spiced baby ribs, blackened ahi, Chinatown chicken spring rolls, shrimp tempura and spicy ahi maki ($13).
“People seem to appreciate the fact that they can eat smaller portions of Roy’s classic dishes here,” says Barnett,“and that they can do it during the day.”
Look for some kicked-up cocktails, too, at brunch time, including a fiery wasabi Bloody Mary and a sparkling mimosa.
“We call them our morning mood enhancers,” says Barnett of the cocktails that include champagne with strawberries, water-melon and cherry, pineapple-infused martinis, li hing mui margaritas and a selection of frozen daiquiris.
Appetizers of ochazuke or haupia and fresh fruit are included in the price of brunch, and two portion sizes are offered.
“We decided to offer all of our desserts for Sunday brunch, too,” says Barnett - including Roy’s melting hot chocolate souffl with vanilla bean ice cream, raspberry coulis and crme Anglaise.
By all means, bring on your dietary New Year’s resolutions, but before you do, head out for Sunday brunch at Roy’s.
Roy’s Restaurant at Ko Olina Resort
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