The best restaurant in East Oahu

I don’t even have to tell you the name. Everyone knows which restaurant in East Oahu is the best.

Not that other restaurants out here aren’t wonderful. There are. Most are more in line with family budgets tightened in response to economic restraints. East Oahu has great barbecue places, breakfast joints, burger and burrito spots. When we’re in a hurry, there’s something to grab. When we’re in the mood for something specific, there’s everything but Indian out here. But when it comes to super special, we go to Roy’s in Hawaii Kai.

Paula with dessert at Roy'sRoy’s Happy Anniversary dessert

Maybe we should reconsider that Roy’s is only for special occasions. We’re guilty of saving Roy’s for the best of times, but, my husband I have been thinking that if we were to go and dine at the bar on the incredible ribs and sushi, we could walk away not too full and with little damage to our family budget. 

We went recently to celebrate our 14th anniversary. We’ve been doing this for years. This time it struck me how I want to be sure to see the familiar faces that make Roy’s such a great place to visit. General Manager Zameer Mallal not only greets us, but he visits our table a few times to chat and check on us. Our awesome waitress Michelle saw to every detail, including keeping my champagne flute filled with pink bubbly. Some guy named Roy visited and dropped off a special edition book about the restaurant and an envelope we could open for a future visit. Whoa!

In clear view of the dining room is the kitchen, run by executive Chef Ronnie Nasutichef Ronnie Nasuti. Although this is Roy Yamaguchi’s flagship restaurant, he cannot be at more than 30 places at a time. Ronnie is the captain of this ship. One of these days someone will publish a book about the chefs who sustain the legends created by Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, Sam Choy, Beverly Gannon, Peter Merriman, et al. Hmmm. That’s an idea!

What I like about living in East Oahu is that we are pretty relaxed about seeing each other IRL outside of the workplace. When I make a left out of East Halemaumau with Kid1 from Niu Valley Middle on our way to picking up Kid2 at Koko Head Elementary, I might see Nasuti on his motorcycle taking the long way to work, passing by the restaurant for what I bet is a relaxing ride on the Harley around the Ka Iwi Coast. I met Mallal at a school function, and get a kick out of his perspective as a parent of children older than mine.

Mallal told us that most of the staff at Roy’s Hawaii Kai grew up in the area. I believe it. Over the years we’ve been waited on by staff who work at our kids’ schools, shop at Safeway and have been spotted eating an evil 32-grams of fat hotdog at Costco!

Too often people are blindsided by the news of a local establishment having hit the skids and shuttered. We all magically work the numbers each month to pay the bills. School fundraisers always throw me!

Every once in a while, when the numbers are right, treat yourself and your family to dinner at Roy’s. Just because.

Tags: Alan Wong, Beverly Gannon, Costco, East Oahu, Hawaii Kai, Ka Iwi Coast, Koko Head Elementary, Niu Valley Middle School, Peter Merriman, Ronnie Nasuti, Roy Yamaguchi, Roy’s Restaurant, Safeway, Sam Choy, Zameer Mallal

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.

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