Friday, September 26, 2008


I continued to theme of Magical Dining and overindulgence (ah, don’t you just love September?) this past weekend and headed out to Roy’s over on Restaurant Row.

My friends and I had early reservations on Saturday and drove out with the intention of ordering off the Magical Menu. But here’s what happened. After we sat at our table (which, for the record, was our second-our first table was located directly next to a large group of high school students on their way to Homecoming! The hostess was very nice about moving us.), our server came over and sold us on the regular menu. I mean really sold us. Don’t get in a tizzy-we still didn’t pay full price-but rather ordered off the regular seasonal prix fixe menu! Who knew that for just a few more dollars ($35) you could have a larger selection of items to choose from? We decided to splurge and pay the extra $6 each for more options.

I started with the Nori charred Yellowfin Ahi Tuna appetizer. I was immediately impressed by the plate presentation and good size of the portion. This app could have easily been shared amongst two. But then again I happily ate the entire thing. It was also served with a Wasabi Ogo Salad that paired well with the sauce. FYI, Ogo is gourmet (translation: expensive) seaweed from Hawaii. The tuna was perfectly cooked and seasoned well.

I went with one of the signature dishes for my entrée-the Tender Braised Hawaii Kai Beef Short Ribs. And you know what- there’s really something to be said about eating meat that you don’t even need a knife to cut into. This beef was soooo tender and delicious it was practically falling apart as I maneuvered it from the plate into my mouth. Along with the meat, the braising sauce was flavorful and borderline too rich. The garlic-mashed potatoes were sub-par and served luke warm, but the perfectly cooked and bright green broccoli and bok choy made up for the spuds. Overall the dish was flavorful but very rich with a hefty size serving.

So here’s a question for you:
(Whether you want to regard it as culinary or philosophical is your choice).

What is the difference between Soufflé and Lava Cake??

Here’s what I know:
Soufflés are, well, light and fluffy. A combination of some sort of base mixed with egg whites. They are served in their original baking vessel. If made correctly they rise beautifully and are often served with crème anglaise, ice cream or Chantilly cream (or all of the above). Ok, I admit it; I’ve made several hundred soufflés back in my restaurant days.


Lava Cakes are, well, mini-cakes with a lava-like filling. Think of a warm individual size chocolate cake filled with chocolate ganache that comes oozing out as you break into it. They are served outside of their original baking vessel. And often served with ice cream. I have less experience making lava cakes but probably more experience eating them.

or Lava?

I’ve been noticing recently that restaurants are using the terms “Soufflé” and “Lava Cake” interchangeably. And I’m officially tired of it! So I asked around at work today, and I got a few insights into the dark world of rich desserts. Some say that restaurants are assuming that their guests are under-educated about the differences stated above and are just choosing to use the term Soufflé. Or maybe it’s about trends. As my fav pasty chef Victoria said, “What? Lava Cake? Hop into your Delorean and travel back to 1987!” Maybe they do this because people are more apt to buy a soufflé, or maybe they assume that the average guest simply cannot distinguish between the two.

But I can and here’s what’s bothering me: My entrée, while super tasty, was also super heavy. And I was already close to being full before dessert even got to the table. Yes, I know what you’re thinking-I could’ve stopped eating my entrée before I finished ¾ of it-but then again I thought I was getting a light and fluffy dessert-not another heavy and rich dish. Don’t get me wrong-I’m not complaining. The soufflé/lava cake was amazingly delicious with its lava-like center and ice cream. I guess I’m just tired of feeling fooled by the soufflé/lava cake forces above.

Besides the wholes dessert debacle, here’s the thing: I love this restaurant! The food was amazing and the service was impeccable (Kudos to Ryan!). They also have a great wine list with a good variety of price points (We had a $36 Pinot Noir from Australia that was perfect for all of our entrees). Plus, now that I know they offer a seasonal prix fixe menu I’m hoping to go back often.

Insider tip: Roy’s only offers reservations at or before 6pm or after 8pm. If you’re planning on being a walk in-go between those hours.

* Soufflé Tip: When buttering your ramekins, use a pastry brush and make sure to use vertical strokes. This will cause vertical striations in the butter that will help propel the soufflé up and out of the ramekin.

Extra Pix:

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp with Fried Egg Fried Rice

Roy's on Urbanspoon

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