Review: Roy’s Waikiki Restaurant – Waikiki, Honolulu, USA


Roy’s Waikiki Restaurant had always previously eluded me on my visits to Waikiki Beach. Roy’s has been an institution in Hawaii for number of years, outlasting many other restaurant competitor’s and upstart celebrity chefs that don’t have the longevity that Roy’s Waikiki has managed to ensure. My curiosity finally got the best of me as we indulged in a celebration “post pandemic restart of travel” dinner

This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Marriott Bonvoy and further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Roy’s Waikiki Restaurant – Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, United States of America.

I had always wanted to visit Roy’s Waikiki on a past trip to Waikiki, but had never had enough time to devote an entire evening to a fine dining experience. With a ten day trip in Honolulu, it seemed like the right time to enjoy an evening at Roy’s Waikiki on our trip.

Owner Roy Yamaguchi established himself as an early celebrity chef, opening up to twenty nine restaurants in his name between Guam to Florida, with international locations in Hong Kong and Japan. With six restaurants throughout Oahu, Hawaii, two on Maui, Hawaii and one on Kauai.

Booking Roy’s Waikiki:

I was easily able to book a dinner reservation at Roy’s Waikiki using Open Table on line reservation system. While we are seeing some fine dining restaurants disappear off the Open Table platform, I really appreciated the convenience managing a dinner reservation at Roy’s offered through Open Table; which is well suited for tourist visitors who’s plans can change at a moment’s notice.

An Easily Accessible Reservation
Image Courtesy of Open Table

While there was a lot of availability on Open Table, most of the prime dining times between 6:30 – 7:45 PM seemed to book quite quickly several weeks in advance.

It’s worth noting that Roy Yamaguchi runs several versions of Roy’s throughout Hawaii and Oahu. You’ll want to double check to make sure you’ve booked, and are travelling to the correct restaurant location, on your special night out.

Arriving to Roy’s Waikiki:

Roy’s Waikiki was an easy walk from our hotel at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. It’s located across the street from the luxury Halekunali Hotel in a corner location at the end of the commercial shops on Lewers Street, Waikiki Beach.

We had a very short wait outside at Roy’s Waikiki’s reception as our arrival was processed. During our visit, the Safe Travel’s Oahu program was in effect. All restaurant guests had to be vaccinated or produce proof of a negative coronavirus test. Our vaccination cards were processed with no concern expressed by Roy’s Waikiki about our internationally issued Canadian Vaccine Cards.

After our vaccination status was confirmed, we were give the choice of seating outside or inside. Being our first visit, and visiting from the cool Pacific Northwest in October, we opted for an outside table to dining in comfortable evening summer weather. We were shown to our table which was along a thin patio space that faced along a thin stretch of Kālia Road. The patio was leafed in with tropical leaves, making for a pleasant setting, but not an extravagant one. The view actually had obstructed views of the container garbage bins from the Halekulani hotel.

In addition to the outdoor patio space, there was an outdoor bar that appeared to be producing many drinks. It was neat to have the sound of the bar near our table, as it added a festive soundtrack to the dining table.

While the outside space was pleasant, it wasn’t over the top aspirational in terms of patios. The patio space seemed more like a small after thought in terms of building design, as it appeared to use thin wrap around left over space as a result of the building design.

Despite our outside table, the inside of Roy’s Waikiki appeared to be much nicer and more decadent. The interior decor involved variety of fine art around the restaurant. A wine wall also accented the main dining space. I found the inside to be quite more reminiscent of a showy restaurant than the outdoor patio.

With the knowledge of the inside being a nicer place, I decided if I were to ever come back, that I would probably opt for indoor dining on my next visit.


The Menus:

After we had settled in, the menu’s were presented. The cuisine is considered to be a blend of Hawaiian fusion with Californian, Japanese and French inspired cuisine. It’s always excitign to try something regional whenever you get the opportunity to travel and are faced with a fine dining option.

Given that we were in Hawaii, it is expected that there would be a substantial amount of fresh fish on the menu. The menu was split into regular fresh fish, along with a substantial sushi portion.

There was also a special “al fresco outdoor” three course prix fixe menu for $70.

Accompanying the interesting looking menu was a comprehensive cocktail and wine list. The cocktails were interesting looking, including “Christmas in Hawaii” featuring Templeton Rye, St George spiced pear and Giffard Oregants and lemon along with Roy’s Mai Tai with Kola Silver and Dark Rum, Contrieau, Giffard Oregeat, Lime and Orange.

There were also some sweet wines and ports available. There were limited wines on the main menu (by the glass + bottle) but I didn’t ask for a fuller wine list. As a result of the Safe Travel’s Oahu program, the wine and alcohol service was scheduled to end earlier than anticipated.

We ended up sharing a bottle of Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The wine was presented and kept in an ice bucket and chilled at the table side.

The Meal:

We started off our dinner with HK Crab with a spicy sesame beurre blanc. The crab cakes were really good, textured crisp on the outside, with fresh tasting real crab on the inside. The presentation on the palette was heavy on the sauce; which almost to a hollandaise like level in terms of mouth feel.

For my main course, I enjoyed a yellowtail Hamachi “catch of the day” served with citrus vinegar. The main was very light and flavours went well together. The yellow tail was served with steamed rice.

In terms of cook time, as a Pacific Northwester accustomed to eating lots of fresh oceanwise seafoods, my fish was just a few minutes overcooked for my tastes, but not dry by any means.

MrsWT73 went with Opo catch pf the day served with spatzel and a lobster sauce. It was, like the crab cakes, a heavier dish although the flavours went together really well. I personally find heavier dishes in the heat a little getting used to, but perhaps this is a style for some.

The service was very attentive but efficiently fast paced. We were prompted for our dessert order for chocolate lava cakes at the 3 minute quality check. There were many waiting for tables outside on a walk in basis.

It’s a fine balance between nudging your customers towards dessert or departing by asking them whether they want desert as you are tucking into your main dinner. Dependent on how you approach this, it can be taken as efficiency or a sign that you’re not completely appreciated to linger as a customer. In fairness to the restaurant, Roy’s chocolate lava cake takes thirty minutes to prepare, so perhaps the restaurant has it down by checking well in advance.

The check for one shared appetizer, two mains and a bottle of wine came to $161 USD prior to tip.

The Bottom Line: Roy’s Waikiki

Roy’s Waikiki Restaurant was a nice pleasant place to get a dinner. Although we sat outside, I think we would aim to sit inside next time as the decor appeared to be a lot nicer at the price point we paid. The food menu was exceptionally regional, and we appreciated the opportunity to try something different.

If you have visited the Roy’s in Hawaii, is there a particular location that is your favourite?

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