I will confess that I had not seen the inside of a Roy's Restaurant prior to an invitation to join Queequeg for a special sampling of their Fall Fusion Prix Fixe menu. I had always assumed Roy's would all be sticky, sweet sauces, pork and pineapple. The delicious 1988 Martini with grapefruit and pomegranite juices was the only tropical treat we sampled.
Roy's is more of an upper middle-class restaurant with a varied menu. Although it is a chain, the chefs are allowed leeway beyond Roy's signature dishes and special event menus, so each restaurant features a number of different options. For example, Roy's Pasadena offers opah, and Anaheim features barramundi, while Roy's LA is much more meat-heavy.
Roy's LA resident chef/partner, Garrett Mukogawa, hails from Torrance, which makes him a local boy for me. He is inspired by Japanese and Korean Ingredients, and of course, his grandmother.
The restaurant has a very pleasant, warm interior that encourages lingering. We were guided to a private dining room with white tablecloths and mirrored walls with high-backed wooden banquettes. Cute little dishes began to arrive, the size of sampler plates at large foodie events.
The Blackened Rock Shrimp and Red Bean Soup featuring Portuguese Sausage and Shishito Peppers was one of the more popular dishes of the evening. With a dark, rich broth it was reminiscent of a gumbo. The shrimp was extremely tender considering it was served in a hot soup -- I suspect it was added at the last possible minute.
"Elaine's Kabocha Squash Salad with Cinnamon Spiced Pepitas had a scrumptuous cranberry vinagrette. If I get that recipe, I will use it every holiday season from here on out.
The Cilantro Tiger Shrimp was accompanied by bland curried lentils. Bland curry is almost an oxymoron, but they somehow pulled it off.
The Artichoke and Goat Cheese Crusted Salmon with Sundried Tomato Sauce was the least successful dish of the evening (said in Padma's voice). I'm not a big fan of intensely flavored salmon in the first place, and cheese with fish is a tough sell. It's almost like they were given a basket of random ingredients like on Chopped and had to make do.
Tender Braised Beef Short Ribs was the most successful dish of the evening (yes, I'm still Padma). With the tender beef, rich sauce, and creamy mashed potatoes, this is the warm Autumn dish I would order.
The real stars of the evening were the desserts. It was clear that everyone at the table was tempted to ask for seconds. One person even did. Another writer commented, "I want these two desserts to have a baby," which caused some creative dessert-within-a-dessert attempts.
In spite of being a little outdated, the molten chocolate cake, errr, Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé, is destined to have a permanent place on menus, right up there with the perennial flourless chocolate torte, cheesecake and tarte tatin. Why? Because it is damn good. Roy's version of deep, rich chocolate lava flowing out of the tender cake was delicious with the vanilla ice cream.
The texture of the Pumpkin & Ginger Cheese Cake with Pumpkin Anglaise was light and delicate, which went perfectly with the intense spices. It was a dish to return for. It's such a shame Autumn only lasts for 3 months.
Michael of South Bay Foodies' camera has a function mine is missing - camouflage!!!
The 3-course Fall Prix Fixe menu is currently available at Roy's for $35.95 per person, which includes a fresh and flavorful appetizer, entrée and dessert. You can view the menu online.