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Las Vegas Review-Journal Heidi Knapp Rinella column: RESTAURANT REVIEW: Roy's Restaurant
[January 01, 2010]

Las Vegas Review-Journal Heidi Knapp Rinella column: RESTAURANT REVIEW: Roy's Restaurant

Jan 01, 2010 (Las Vegas Review-Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- We are, it seems, in the age of the happy hour.

You already knew we were in the age of the Great Recession, which has created struggles for too many good, deserving restaurants. This is, therefore, prime time for them to dream up creative ways of drawing in customers, especially customers who haven't been in before. And since so many of those potential customers are on tight budgets, it makes sense to do it with promotions that will save those customers money. Hence, the recent and exponential growth of the happy hour.

Or Aloha Hour, as it applies to Roy's Restaurant. Roy's Aloha Hour runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. weekdays in the bar of both Las Vegas locations, with a $5 menu of appetizers and beverages. Our orders were taken by the bartender and our food was brought by a runner, and everything went very smoothly.

Like most happy hours, you can partake as you wish -- with one or two dishes as a prelude to dinner at Roy's or somewhere else, or with more than that as a sort of tapas-style dinner. We did the latter, since our happy-hour coverage is all about saving money in these tough times, and this is one way to do that. Unsure of portion sizes, the two of us started with three dishes -- the tempura-crusted ahi roll, the Wagyu beef sliders and the crunchy golden lobster potstickers.

And, as it turned out, we found that portion sizes varied quite a bit, no doubt because of the flat price and not-so-flat vagaries in the costs of ingredients. What all three had in common was that they were characterized by little twists, and all were well executed.

The sliders, for example. This was a pretty large portion, two miniburgers topped with chipotle aioli and accompanied by a Chinese-restaurant-box of sweet-potato fries. The burgers were exceptionally flavorful, thanks to the fat that characterizes Wagyu. They also were exceptionally juicy, both because of the fat and the fact that they were served medium-rare, so we basically had juices running down our arms. Some messes aren't worth it, but this one most definitely was.

The fries were great but a little oversold, since the menu called them "garlic truffle sweet-potato fries" and while we detected the garlic, the pricey truffle was MIA.

The potstickers weren't "crunchy," as billed, but that was fine with us because they were tender, very flavorful gyoza. And they were served with a pool of a miso-butter sauce, which was a bit of a surprise and a very welcome one, the velvety sauce carrying just a wisp of smoky flavor.

The tempura-crusted ahi roll also was served with the miso-butter sauce, but that was the only characteristic the dishes shared. This had a very crunchy exterior, the tempura crust appearing to contain a bit of panko for extra crackle. The ahi was right-out-of-the-ocean fresh, and with a little wasabi and the butter sauce, it was an excellent dish.

We decided we needed one more, and the pork and chicken shu mai beckoned. This was pretty traditional -- delicate little dumplings with a ginger-infused filling -- with, as the menu called it, an "old-school" chili sauce.

Roy's offers a number of specialty cocktails during happy hour -- excuse me, Aloha Hour -- but we stuck with the featured wines, which were decent enough at $5 a glass. But on the back bar was a large glass jar filled with thick slices of pineapple bathing in their infusion. Whether that's simply decorative or actually the fruit used in Roy's Original Hawaiian Martini, which contains pineapple infused with regular vodka, vanilla vodka and coconut rum, well, it seemed mighty tempting.

Aloha, indeed.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or e-mail her at hrinella@

To see more of the Review-Journal or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2010, Las Vegas Review-Journal Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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