Roy Yamaguchi’s Pacific Rim Cuisine in La Jolla reinvents its fusion fare

By Kelley Carlson

Roy’s in La Jolla has said aloha to its Hawaiian image. To broaden its horizons, it has rebranded itself as Roy Yamaguchi’s Pacific Rim Cuisine. While the interior has undergone some renovations, the majority of the classic dishes remain.

Crab and Green Papaya Salad with crispy garlic, cucumber and a chili-citrus vinaigrette. Photos by Kelley Carlson

“We started to feel like we were pigeonholing ourselves,” Brian Lee, managing partner, said. “There was a perception that we (only) focused on Hawaiian cuisine.”

The establishment still retains some elements of the island culture, evidenced by details like tiki torches outside the building. But now there are new features, such as glowing red and blue elements that represent the fire and ice of the Pacific Rim’s volcanoes and glaciers.

Improvements were made to the physical space, as well. The bar has been quadrupled in size and can accommodate more people who want to watch games on the two flat-screen TVs or take advantage of the daily Aloha Hour specials. It also provides additional room for guests to socialize while listening to the sounds of recording artists such as Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz playing in the background.

The bar and lounge is the ideal place to sip on “The Original” Hawaiian Martini, featuring Maui pineapples drenched in SKYY Vodka, Malibu Coconut Rum and Stoli Vanil Vodka; or a Roy’s Island Mai Tai floated with Cruzan Black Strap, according to Lee.

Patrons watch sporting events in the bar at Roy's.

Then it’s time to head into the dining room for a taste of Roy’s classic dishes while in a coveted window seat.
There are still a number of entrees on the menu that can be described as “Hawaiian fusion” and are available at all of Roy’s 22 locations, but the La Jolla site incorporates additional cooking styles and ingredients into its offerings. The emphasis is on fresh, sustainable seafood that is upscale with bold, Asian flavors, and includes Korean, Thai, Filipino and California influences.

Dining family-style is highly encouraged and it’s easy to do with the appetizers. There’s the Lakanilau sushi roll (named for one of Roy’s first female sushi chefs, Catherine “Cat” Lacanilao), which brings together traditional Japanese ingredients such as Wagyu beef, snow crab, tempura asparagus, avocado, sesame miso and truffled greens. Another choice: Crab Dim Sum dumplings that are filled with Madras curry, carrot and ginger puree.

The Lakanilau sushi roll.

For meals on the lighter side, patrons can select from “Green” offerings such as the Crab and Green Papaya Salad with crispy garlic and cucumber, dressed in a chili-citrus vinaigrette.

Chef Partner Charles Andres presents about a dozen entrees, including a Wagyu Steak that is brought to the table in a covered dish. When the lid is lifted, a cloud of steam with an applewood smoked aroma escapes. The fatty, well-balanced flavor of the beef can be paired with a pinot noir.

Another item of note is the flaky and moist Seared Snapper with kabocha squash gnocchi, Chanterelle mushrooms and opal basil, to be enjoyed with a glass of sauvignon blanc.
There are also Roy’s classics such as the Misoyaki Butterfish with sizzling lemon shoyu vinaigrette, and the Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi in lobster essence.
For dessert, there is the Pineapple Upside Down Cake featuring caramelized pineapples baked with a brown sugar pound cake, served hot, with a scoop of coconut ice cream. Or try the decadent Belgian Chocolate Mousse inside a dark chocolate pyramid with pistachio gelato.
Roy’s has a three-course, seasonal prix fixe menu for $36.95, which includes an appetizer, entrée and a dessert.

Roy Yamaguchi’s Pacific Rim Cuisine
Address: 8670 Genesee Ave., La Jolla

Phone: (858) 455-1616

The Vibe: Business casual, intimate, relaxed
Signature Dishes: Misoyaki Butterfish, Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, Hibachi Grilled Salmon, Braised Short Ribs, Beef Short Rib Bi Bim Bap, Lakanilau
Open Since: 2001

Reservations: Yes
Patio Seating: No
Take Out: Yes
Aloha Hour: 4:30-6:30 p.m. daily

Hours: 5-9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. This week: Roy’s Seared Sea Scallops

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  3. Raw and ready: New super-food vitality bar opens in Del Mar
  4. Taste of La Jolla raises $19,000 for La Jolla High School
  5. Brockton Villa oozes charm and flavor for a true taste of La Jolla

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Posted by Staff on May 23, 2013. Filed under Food, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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