Media Preview Dinner: Roy's Restaurant's "Eat Creative" Review (FiDi, SF)

Last month, I attended a sit-down media preview dinner at Roy’s Restaurant in SoMa, San Francisco to taste their new Eat Creative menu, which focuses on cuisine influenced from the Pacific Rim. Roy's is most known for their seafood creations and they specialize in Hawaiian and Asian fusion cuisine.

Roy's was established in 1988 and started by Roy Yamaguchi in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is now owned and operated by Bloomin' Brands with 22 locations in the United States. I was a bit hesitant to accept the invitation to this dinner because I have an aversion for most chain restaurants. However, I've heard great things about Roy's, so I wanted to check it out. Turns out that it can be a nice place to enjoy some tasty food and drinks.

I attended the event with Christina of East Bay Dish and we made a new friend, Grace of San Francisco Food, whose blog and Instagram I've been following; I knew she looked familiar and was so glad to finally connect because she is pretty awesome. 

It was a night full of food and copious amounts of wine. Here's a recap of all the food we ate and what I thought of each dish. I couldn't take any great photos with my iPhone due to the dim lighting of the restaurant, so I'm using photos provided by Roy's. 

THE FOOD

Photo Cr

We were greeted with Pacific Rim Cosmotinis, which were delicious. I would highly recommend starting off the night with that drink if you're in the mood for a citrus drink that's bright, sweet and sour. It reminded me of the Mexican mango-chile lollipops but in cocktail form.

Crispy Pork Belly & Steamed Buns ($6)

I was a big fan of these mini pork belly buns. The steamed dough was perfect to bite and pillow-like in texture. The pork belly had a great meat to fat ratio and in a sweet caramel-like sauce. I look forward to having these again with drinks during happy hour.

Wagyu Burger ($9)

My favorite item of the night was Roy's juicy wagyu burger. It was like eating bone marrow on a buttery bun. The truffle mushrooms were subtle and had a wonderful smell, the caramelized onions added a sweetness, and the sunny-side up egg made this rich burger even richer. The fatty juices drip within each bite, making it the ultimate indulgence. I only ate a quarter of the full burger during this tasting; I'm not sure if I could eat an entire burger but my mind tells me I could. Did I mention that this is only $9 during their Aloha Hour? 


Misoyaki Butterfish Lettuce Wraps

Misoyaki Butterfish Lettuce Wraps ($9)

I enjoyed the butterfish wraps and loved the flaky layers that melted in my mouth. The fish was delicate, smooth and butter-like with a great miso taste. It was hard to share this because I wanted all of it.


Ebi Roll - Roy's

Ebi Roll ($6)

The shrimp roll was rich and creamy with just the right amount of cream cheese. I enjoyed this a lot. 


Shrimp Caper Salad

I enjoyed the shrimp salad and thought the dressing was done very nicely. The dressing was creamy and full of grated Parmesan cheese with nice levels of vinegar and acidity from the capers. The shrimp was cooked well and simply prepared, working nicely with all the flavors.


Ribeye - Roy's

Alaea Salt Crusted Bone in Ribeye

The steak looked beautiful but it was a bit tough from being a little over-cooked. I don't know if that was intentional since we were getting it served family style but I prefer steaks medium rare. Otherwise, it could have been a nice steak. The shoyu brandy pepper sauce was nicely done but it didn't do much to enhance the taste of the steak.

Truffled Bacon Mac & Cheese

If you really love truffle oil in your mac and cheese then this could be the dish for you. I thought the truffle oil masked all what could have been a decent cheese pasta dish. We had both a version with truffle oil and a version without it; I thought it could have used more cheese across the board. 


Crab, Mussels, and Clam Cioppino

The crab was difficult to eat because it required work to crack the shells, which I didn't do because it was too messy of a process, so I can't fairly review this dish. However, I did try some of the mussels and clams and thought that was very flavorful. 


Lobster Pot Pie - Roy's

Lobster Pot Pie

The lobster pot pie is a great idea in concept and while I understood the Thai curry flavors they were trying to achieve through this dish, the lobster was over-cooked and tough to bite. They use coconut milk in their gravy to add in creaminess. The potatoes and pie dough layer at the bottom were a bit on the under-cooked side. 


Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle - Roy's

Hot Chocolate Souffle

The molten chocolate lava cake satisfied my sweet tooth with a perfect fudge-filled center that oozes out when you cut into it.


Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Coconut Ice Cream

The pineapple upside down cake was tasty. The cake was moist and soft. The pineapple had a nice caramelization. I wasn't a big fan of the coconut ice cream - it was overly sweet for me. 


When the meal was complete, we were given a beautiful cookbook, a souvenir bottle opener and a gift card to return again. Thanks for dinner, Roy's!


VISITING ROY'S RESTAURANT

Location

575 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Website

https://www.roysrestaurant.com/locations/ca/san-francisco

Hours

  • Monday–Friday: 5:30 PM–10:00 PM
  • Saturday–Sunday: 5:00 PM–10:00 PM
  • Lunch (Monday–Friday): 11:30 AM–2:00 PM
  • Aloha Hour (Sunday–Friday): 4:30 PM–7:00 PM

Photo Credit: Roy's Restaurant

Roy's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Just Opened: Townie Review - Pleasant Casual Eatery & Neighborhood Bar in Berkeley

Dinner at Townie Berkeley
Townie - Berkeley

Townie is a friendly neighborhood casual eatery and bar, located off of University Avenue in Berkeley, serving up small plates prepared by Executive Chef Dana Ryan, who has an impressive background having recently worked at State Bird Provisions, RN74, and Gather in Berkeley. Nima Shokat is the owner and manager, who also runs West Berkeley's Missouri Lounge.

Townie - Berkeley

I was thrilled to be invited to Townie for a hosted meal to try out their menu and drinks with some of my favorite people Christina of East Bay Dish, Ben of Focus:Snap:Eat, and Sandy of Foodhoe. In fact, we were all planning our next dinner to be at Townie and this opportunity was presented to us thanks to Christina (you rock, girl).

East Bay Dish, Foodhoe, Focus Snap Eat

Townie has a nice selection of craft beers and a simple cocktail list, making it a great neighborhood hangout. The food options are small plates, so do not arrive ordering one dish expecting generous portions to fill you up completely. Here are the highlights of every dish we ordered; we had nearly every item on the menu! 

THE FOOD

Oysters - Townie Berkeley

Marin Atlantic Oysters with Grilled Corn, Old Bay Butter ($3 each) 

These sweet succulent oysters were addicting.  I enjoyed the beautiful presentation and small peek of the oyster meat towards the narrow end of the shell. One wasn't nearly enough for me. The grilled corn and old bay butter made for a rich and complementary explosive combo that didn't distract away from the star of the dish.


Chicken Liver Mousse - Townie Berkeley

The Chicken Liver Mousse with Parsley Gelée and Crostini ($8)  

We all agreed that the mousse was the most unique item we had and while everyone else enjoyed it, I wasn't a fan. I found it difficult to identify the liver taste because it was masked with a powerful lemon flavor. The parsley gelee was definitely interesting but because I'm not a huge parsley fan, I cannot be a fair judge of that. Sandy took a great photo of the actual mousse that you can check out on her post here


Chicharones - Townie Berkeley

Chicharones ($4)

When you bite into the chicharones, you will be startled by how crackly and loud the skin is. The pork skin texture is crunchy and a bit tough to bite. You will definitely want to have a couple of beers with this. 


Potato Croquettes - Townie Berkeley

Potato Croquettes with Serrano Ham, Manchego Cheese ($8)

Imagine the taste of creamy mashed potatoes fried into a ball with a delicate and crispy exterior. The manchego cheese contributed to the richness of the filling, followed by subtle hints of ham, which wasn't as noticeable as I'd like but it was still very tasty. 


Garlic Cheese Toast - Townie Berkeley

Garlic Cheese Toast with Gruyere Cheese, Arugula Salad ($7)

As the cheese toasts makes way over to our table, we can smell the pungent rich aroma of melted gruyere. The melted cheese on each piece of toast was generous and the taste was sharp, nutty, and buttery. The toasts were topped with bits of arugula, creating a taste of peppery brightness.  


Grilled Caesar Salad - Townie Berkeley

Grilled Caesar Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Country Croutons, Bacon ($9) and Hangar Steak  ($5) 

I liked the charred lettuce - it highlights the vegetable in a unique and tasty way. The sweet tomatoes added brightness to the salad. Overall, it was a fantastic salad and the steak was a great addition. See below for a review of the full steak dish. 


Banh Mi - Townie Berkeley

Pork Belly 'Banh Mi' ($10)

The pork belly was nicely caramelized; well-balanced between sweetness and acidity - it was almost candied-like. The picked carrots and daikon resembled the version you would find in Vietnamese food. I liked how the mayonnaise was layered on thick, and that the entire cilantro stems and raw jalapeños were used as you would expect on a traditional banh mi. The bread used wasn't the french baguette I expected but I think that was intentional given the sauciness of the pork belly caramel sauce. Overall, I think they did a nice job on this and would recommend it. 


Mussels - Townie Berkeley

Mussels with Chorizo, White Wine ($12)

The mussels were generous and the Spanish influenced white wine broth was enjoyed by all. Nice bits of chorizo chunks went well with the mussels and the rich pork flavor was represented well in the broth. 


Hanger Steak - Townie Berkeley

Hanger Steak with Potato Puree, Summer Squash, Arugula ($15)

The steak was charred nicely and the cook was perfect. It was simply seasoned and served with a colorful set of vegetables. 


Stone Fruit Salad - Townie Berkeley

Stone Fruit Salad with Vanilla, Absinthe, Citrus, Peanut ($10)

When I first saw that this was the only dessert offered on the menu, my response to our waiter was, "Where's the ice cream?". I never order a fresh fruit dessert at a restaurant but I was so glad that we had this because it was very delicious and I want to go back and order it again. The pluot and peaches were perfectly ripe, sweet, and acidic. The sweet citric foam contained hints of vanilla and absinthe. The mascarpone gave it a nice rich cooling component. The peanut crumbles tasted like a sweet crumbly peanut butter - I had spoonfuls. The entire combination was great. Even the little micro greens used as garnish on top was wonderful; it's called nepitella, which tastes like a cross between a mint and oregano. I would highly recommend saving room for this; it's light and refreshing. 

Thanks for dinner, Townie! 


VISITING TOWNIE

The Menu

Townie Menu

Location

1799 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA

Website

http://www.townie-bar.com/

Hours

Opens Tuesday to Sunday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Townie on Urbanspoon

First Look: Delicious & Thoughtful Seafood Fare at Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House Review (Jack London Square, Oakland)

Charred Octopus with Piquillo Pepper, Potatoes, Oregano - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Let me start off by saying that the food at Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House is so damn good that you'll want to order everything on the menu, and then come back the next day for more. If you love seafood, you'll want to mark your calendars for Tuesday, 8/19 at 11 a.m., when this new restaurant opens in Jack London Square.

I've been complaining about the lack of great seafood restaurants in the east bay, so I was ecstatic when I found out that husband-and-wife duo Richard Hackett and Meredith Melville, the masterminds behind Bocanova, were planning to open a casual raw bar and seafood restaurant with a focus on sustainable fish cooked a la plancha or on a grill. You don't even know how happy I am to not have to cross the bridge to SF for oysters anymore! 

Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland
Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Rick Hackett and Executive Chef Peter Villegas, formerly of Campton Place and La Mar, created an impressive menu that features a raw bar with east & west coast oysters to a wide array of seafood-centric dishes. Lori Theis is the General Manager, Nate Gabriel is the Chef de Cuisine, and Antoine Nixon, the Bar Manager, will oversee the restaurant’s beverage program featuring a simple and straightforward hand-crafted cocktail menu that includes an array of well-thought out seafood-friendly refreshers. Pastry Chef Paul Conte will lead the desserts program to ensure that each meal ends sweetly for each guest. 

The Restaurant Preview

I received an invite to attend Jack's media preview party to get a first look at the space and to feast on a number of their featured dishes. I was happy to be accompanied by great company; Christina of East Bay Dish was also invited and I took Patrick as my +1. 

Here's a recap of all the food and the drinks we had, along with some details about the restaurant: 

The Food

Charred Octopus with Piquillo Pepper, Potatoes, Oregano - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Charred Octopus with Piquillo Pepper, Potatoes, Oregano

The charred octopus is one of the best things that I've ever ate. It looks like a scary beast but tastes so delicate and tender. The char leaves a great taste on the octopus and the flavors overall have a Spanish influence with the potatoes and the piquello peppers' sweet, spicy, and smokey taste. I'd highly recommend this dish. You will not be disappointed. 


Maine Lobster Roll with Housemade Pretzel Bun, Cole Slaw - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Maine Lobster Roll with Housemade Pretzel Bun, Cole Slaw

The lobster roll all surprised us when we bit into it to find that it was slightly raw. In some cases, raw lobster doesn't work but in this dish, it does (for me). The restaurant brings in sashimi grade seafood and wanted guests to enjoy the seafood as is without much cooking, so they did a quick poach on the lobster. The housemade pretzel bun is genius and addicting. I've had plenty of lobster rolls in my life and have never had one with a pretzel bun. I don't think I can have it any other way now. 


West Coast + East Coast Oysters - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

West Coast + East Coast Oysters

I travel far for oysters, so to have this available locally is a dream come true. There were two types of oysters served and while I didn't get the names, one plate came from the west coast and the other was from the east coast. The oysters we had were creamy, fresh, and briny - loved it. 


Mussels with Fresh Herb - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Mussels with Fresh Herb

The mussels were very tasty. It's prepared unlike anywhere I've ever had it - similar to the lobster roll above, we think these mussels were left intentionally on the uncooked side so guests are able to enjoy the fresh high quality taste. Patrick wasn't a fan because he typically likes his seafood cooked thoroughly but I didn't have a problem with it. 


Peel & Eat Hawaiian Blue Shrimp with Remoulade - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Peel & Eat Hawaiian Blue Shrimp with Remoulade

I enjoyed this simple preparation of shrimp. You can taste the sweet natural juices from the way it was cooked - very tender to bite.  Because I love shrimp mustard (the area between the head and body), I was very pleased the heads were still attached. 


Baked Sardines with Salsa Verde - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Baked Sardines with Salsa Verde

When you get fresh sardines, they are usually very overpowering but these are nice and mild sardines. Patrick and I enjoyed the Italian salsa verde, made with parsley and garlic. It was a well-done dish. 


Clam Chowder with Bacon, Smoked Potato, Thyme - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Clam Chowder with Bacon, Smoked Potato, Thyme

I love clam chowder and this was one of the best I've had at a restaurant. It was incredibly rich and flavorful. The bacon cut was thick and generous. The chowder was well-balanced and not too thick or too thin. The hints of thyme, bacon and seafood broth made for a fantastic nose. 


Halibut Fish-N-Chips with Malt Vinegar Aioli - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland
Halibut Fish-N-Chips with Malt Vinegar Aioli - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Halibut Fish-N-Chips with Malt Vinegar Aioli

The fish was tasty but couldn't compare with everything else offered. I thought the fish was slightly overcooked but still very enjoyable. The fries were a hit and we all agreed that it was some of the best fries we've had. 


Puffed Potato with Creme Fraiche, Salmon Skin - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Puffed Potato with Creme Fraiche, Trout Roe, Salmon Skin

These fried puffed potato balls are pure heaven. We loved eating them with the combination of the crispy salmon skin topped with creme fraiche and trout roe. There's some magic that happens when you combine four of these things together and your taste buds will thank you. 


Dungeness Crab Cake with Corn Puree, Watercress - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Dungeness Crab Cake with Corn Puree, Watercress

These crab cakes are so flavorful, delicate and crispy. I enjoyed the brightness of the corn puree and thought the simple pairing makes for a delicious dish. 


Soft Shell Crab with Black Garlic, Kimchee - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Soft Shell Crab with Black Garlic, Kimchee

These are the best fried soft shell crabs that I've had. The crabs were nicely sized, delicate, and tasted like sweet freshness from the ocean. My favorite part about this dish is biting into the delightful crabs and eating the rich crab-mustard butter. I enjoyed the light batter because it didn't overpower the crabs. When eating this with black garlic and kimchee, you get a sweet, acidic, and spicy flavor explosion. My mouth is watering just thinking about this! 


Kampachi Tiradilo with Roe, Chilies, and Avocado Cream

The fish was super fresh and I loved what I assumed to be an avocado cream sauce. It's a simple dish but thoughtful and beautifully presented. If you gave me a bowl of this, I'd be happy. 


Tuna Poke with Soy Sauce, Green Onions, Habanero

The tuna poke is fresh and nicely dressed. The flavors were refreshing and the kick at the end from the habanero was lovely. I couldn't get a nice photo of this due to the crowds tearing the dish a part, so you'll have to order it and see it in person yourself. If you like spicy poke, then you'll want to order this dish. 


Soft-Serve with Salted Caramel and Cornflakes - Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

Soft-Serve with Salted Caramel and Cornflakes

I am a sucker for salted caramel and will admit that I had three of these heavenly soft-serve desserts that you see Pastry Chef Paul Conte holding and next to him is Nate Gabriel the Chef de Cuisine. The cornflake crunchy bits made for a nice topping. It was the perfect ending to all of the great seafood we had. When I make my next visit, I am looking forward to getting this dessert again. 


The Cocktails

Of the four drinks I had below, I loved the Manhattan and Dillicious the best. The cocktails are simple but done so well that I couldn't help but drink more. 

  • Manhattan - Old Forester Bourbon, Campano Antica, Angostura Bitters
  • Smoke House - Bowen's Campfire Whiskey, Cocchi Torrino
  • The French - Tariquet vs Armagnac, Bigallet China China, Orange Bitters
  • Dillicious - Dos Manos, St. Germain, Lime, Sugar, Dill, Cucumber
Artwork Mural at Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

The Space: Local Design and Creativity

The 100-seat modern seafood restaurant, designed by architect Michael Guthrie and interior designer Ann Rockwell, features a 20-seat raw bar with handcrafted chairs by Berkeley-based Wooden Duck furniture. Jack’s Oyster Bar and Fish House collaborated with local residents and designers Becky Carter and Michael de La Torre to create exclusive beautiful artwork for the space. The mural towards the back of the restaurant features a complex collage of paper layers depicting the dynamic intersection of Oakland’s environment, culture, and commerce.  I am in love with the intricate and thoughtful design - and how it features two bay bridges, both old and new. 

Artwork and Seating at Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House - Oakland

What Inspired Jack's

We had a quick chat with Meredith and I asked her what was the inspiration behind opening this restaurant. She says her husband, Rick, saw the lack in seafood and the appeal that it has in SF and thought that it was the east bay's turn to open something up. He originally thought of a chowder house, but because chowder often has an association with cold weather, they decided to expand their menu offerings to bring sustainable seafood to the area. 

Thanks for dinner, Jack's! 


VISITING JACK'S OYSTER BAR & FISH HOUSE

Location

336 Water St. Oakland, California 94607

Phone

415.362.8887

Website

http://jacksoakland.com/

Hours

Opens Everyday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Reservations

They take reservations only at 5:30 p.m. on OpenTable

During other times, guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House on Urbanspoon