Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Roy’s Ko OlinaRestaurant Insider
January 1, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
ANNE LEE speaks with Roy’s Ko Olina executive chef DARYL SHINOGI and general manager TAISEI LEE
The 19th hole at Ko Olina Golf Club happens to be at Roy’s Ko Olina, which is affectionately known as the Crown Jewel of the West. This is a place that you can literally walk off the golf course or come dressed in a tuxedo to dine. Executive chef Daryl Shinogi and general manager Taisei Lee, along with their staff, provide exceptional service and cuisine — the best in theWest.
After playing a round of golf, I met up with them to try some of the healthiest options on the menu to kick-start some of my New Year’s resolutions. Healthy eating can taste this good.
AL: What did you prepare for us today?
DS: The Simply “Vegan” ($26) is available for lunch and dinner. It’s mochi-crusted kabocha, which is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. It’s served with black currant tapenade, pickled vegetables and Thai chile.
Our Spring Mixed Baby Greens ($16), aka Asian mix salad, comes with your choice of a sesame citrus vinaigrette, creamy herb or balsamic olive oil. The Kahumana Organic Baby Kale Caesar Salad ($18) features a Parmesan wafer. This is old-school. We chop the anchovies and garlic to make this dressing from scratch, and kale is a good source of plant-based calcium. These two dishes are Roy’s staples on the dinner menu.
The Barbecued Atlantic Salmon ($27/$53) has teriyaki grilled with bok choy and is served with somen noodles.
The Chinese Style Steamed Opakapaka ($52) is a Hawaii red snapper, jade pesto steamed snapper. This is high in protein and low in fat. It’s served with shiitake mushrooms, lup chong and a sizzling soy sauce. This is Roy’s signature pesto sauce specifically made for steamed fish. It’s made with cilantro, green onions and oyster sauce.
AL: Can you tell me more about your background?
TL: I have been with Roy’s Ko Olina for 19 years. In 2004, I started as a busser and continued to grow in my positions here. I have worked at other Roy’s locations to help open them, but this location has been my home base. I was ready to expand my career and was given an opportunity for a general manager position at Four Seasons (the GM position wasn’t available here), but I came back to this location, as this is where my heart was. I just made three years as general manager on Dec. 5.
AL: Chef Daryl talked about some of Roy’s Ko Olina’s healthy options. What else can guests expect from the menu?
TL: The menu items at any of Roy’s restaurants offer the best locally sourced ingredients. You have dishes prepared in the best way it’s meant to be eaten. We will accommodate dietary requests to the best of our ability; you don’t have to order the big bowl of rice, but we do have it for those that do enjoy it.
Everything in moderation is what I would say is key.
AL: Every Roy’s location has its own identity. What would you say is special about Roy’s Ko Olina?
TL: Like you mentioned before, this is the 19th hole.We have many golfers that come right off the course to have a few drinks and pupus. You can smell the aroma of the food and hear glasses clinking when you come up to the 18th hole. It’s the next step after golf. We are competing with other resorts here, but to have the golf course right in our backyard is pretty special.
We have a wonderful mix of locals and visitors, and to maintain a culture is difficult especially with the turnover that we face in the restaurant industry. The team we have works hard, as we are the only Roy’s restaurant open for lunch seven days a week. To be able to provide that level of service day in, day out is difficult; I couldn’t do this without my team. Executive chef Daryl is a big part of that culture. People come in to dine and return because of the food and the experience; the feeling that people get once they come to Roy’s Ko Olina.
Our weekends (Fridays-Sundays) offer live music from 6 to 9 p.m.
AL: Anything else you want to share?
TL: We want to give back to our community.We started doing beach cleanups in Nanakuli. Once, we ended up with 12-13 bags of trash. This is something that I wanted to do for team-building and also to take care of our neighborhood. We invite our staff and their families to help and then have a potluck after.We also did a toy drive for families on this side of the island. This isn’t for the public to see — this is the right thing to do.