At an “Exclusive Tasting Extravaganza,” Roy’s (of Hawaii) Downtown Los Angeles showcased their incredible food and facility options for special events.

The revival of downtown Los Angeles has been astonishing for those of us who trepidatiously travelled downtown in the 90s and scurried to and from parking lots.  Now people are strolling late-night, going in and out of bars without much care.  There’s a Ralph’s downtown.  Soon to be open is a Target at the new 7th and Fig outdoor plaza.

L.A. Live has been a source of much of the area’s rejuvenation.  With Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, and a slew of upscale restaurants, bars, hotels, and hang-outs in addition to the L.A. Convention Center across the street, the area is always active.  But there are restaurants just a few blocks away that are not to be missed.  Roy’s is one.

photo by Cirina Catania

You have not eaten meat (if you eat meat) until you’ve had their 48-hour short ribs.  Most fantastic thing I’ve tasted.  The only other dish that comes close to being as tender is a brisket at Bryan’s Pit BBQ at L.A.’s Farmer’s Market on 3rd.  I’m not sure that’s on the menu though, because my parents know the owners, and the time I had it it might have been specially made.  Roy’s 48-hour short ribs are bathed in a zesty sauce which thankfully remains on your tongue after the silky meat melts away.  If I knew slow-cooking begat this kind of result, I would have broken the cooker out long ago.  Though I doubt many could reproduce Chef Blaine Villasin’s results.

The main selling point for Roy’s special events options is their flexibility.  Gluten-free options are a highlight.  While others prepare stock menus for large parties, Roy’s doesn’t start food prep until an order is placed, so they can do things special-order.  An incredibly fresh ahi with a gluten-free soy sauce was brought out for me along with Roy’s melting hot chocolate soufflé, nicknamed the “lava cake” because of the oozing chocolate that streams out from the middle.  Managing Partner April McCaa was telling me that sometimes the staff puts peanut butter inside for her.  Worth the trip downtown in and of itself.

Fusion is the focus at Roy’s, and while this kanaka maoli yearns for poi and kahlua pork, there’s enough on the menu to satisfy all appetites.

My hosts relayed that when they’re on vacation, they ache for Roy’s food — can’t blame them.

With their welcoming and upbeat staff and, of course, unmatched food, Roy’s would definitely be at the top of my list for events or daily dining.  I cannot stop thinking about those short ribs.  I’m trying to use my acting training right now so I can execute “sense memory” and feel like I’m eating it again.


–Ken Choy

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