A Taste of Hawaii in Chicago

Photo by Emily Haddad

By Emily Haddad – Editor-in-Chief

The words ‘Hawaiian Fusion’ bring to mind brightly colored flowered shirts, tiki torches and wicker furniture, but Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine was anything but the expected kitsch and camp. Roy’s is an upscale concept restaurant just off of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile that offers a superior dining experience and a pleasant environment for cocktails and chat. The décor is Madison Avenue, with deep brown tones and champagne accents, abstract art and low mood lighting. The exception to the tastefully dim lighting motif was the open kitchen. The chefs were easily viewed cooking and arranging plates behind the black marble counters, and both the sizzling sounds and smells freely circulated the restaurant, raising the anticipation of the coming meal.
The signature drinks are tropically themed, such as the Mango Mojito, Hawaiian Martini, Roy’s Island Mai Tai, and the 1988 – a drink paying tribute to the restaurant’s original opening in Honolulu with a refreshing citrus vodka and tequila mix coupled with lychee. They also have a respectable wine list and full bar service. The friendly and attentive wait-staff at Roy’s are knowledgeable about wine pairings for the entrees and happy to recommend vintages.
The majority of the appetizers are fish-based, with the notable exception of mushroom truffle dumplings (gyoza), the Korean flatbread with kim chee and shortrib, and the Lakanilau sushi roll containing tender Waygu beef. A dab of wasabi and the Lakanilau was a dynamic flavor combination of savory beef, mellow asparagus and salty sesame miso. The salads took advantage of the contrast between sweet and salty (goat cheese and candied pecans) or dressed up more traditional vinaigrette offerings with a fusion of Asian ingredients (bok choy and shiitake with a sizzling soy vinaigrette).
Entrees at Roy’s pay homage to the restaurant’s Hawaiian origins with offerings of Red Snapper, Mahi Mahi, Ahi Tuna, and various shellfish. The fish is amazingly fresh, lightly seasoned with accommodating ingredients that highlight the fish’s natural flavor, and comes beautifully garnished. Roy’s Blackened Ahi had a spicy mustard sauce that beckons the attention of the taste buds.
Also on the menu are offerings from land. While the seafood accents were sharp and piquant, the pork chops, tender beef cuts and styles of chicken took the rich and savory route. The Asian Style Coq Au Vin (chicken in wine sauce) was marinated in Japanese sake rather than wine, and slow-baked with potatoes in a clay crock to seal in the mouth-watering flavors. The crockery and rich gravy lent the dish a comfort food feel.
For those who wanted to sample from both land and sea, Roy’s offers several surf and turf options. Roy’s also has a spectacular seasonally changing price fixe menu, an opportunity to have your choice of three complete dinners (starters, entrée, dessert) for just $36.95.
Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine really lives up to its name by artfully combining Hawaiian flavors with traditionally European cuisine. This restaurant is pricy, but it’s an excellent choice for special events, a special evening with a loved one or family get-togethers.