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Roy's to mark 30 years with a chef-centric party at its original Hawaii location, and a new restaurant with a different name

Roy's to mark 30 years with a chef-centric party at its original Hawaii location, and a new restaurant with a different name
Chef Roy Yamaguchi in the kitchen of his newest restaurant in the Oahu community of Kailua. Goen Dining + Bar welcomed its first guests Nov. 21. (Craig Bixel)

Hawaiian chef Roy Yamaguchi’s newest restaurant, Goen Dining + Bar, opened this month in Kailua on Oahu’s east side, a mere 16 miles from the original Roy’s. Roy’s debuted three decades ago and still stands in the Honolulu suburb of Hawaii Kai.

Now Yamaguchi has big plans to mark the milestone.

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The 30th anniversary celebration will be held 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the first Roy’s, 6600 Kalanianaole Highway in Honolulu. Renowned chefs Celestino Drago from Los Angeles, Hubert Keller, Nobu Matsuhisha, Michael Mina and Alan Wong will be in the house.

Roy Yamaguchi's original restaurant in Hawaii Kai remains pretty much unchanged from when it first opened 30 years ago.
Roy Yamaguchi's original restaurant in Hawaii Kai remains pretty much unchanged from when it first opened 30 years ago. (Craig Bixel)

Keller, also an avid DJ, will cook and spin discs during the party. “He’s charismatic,” Yamaguchi said. “He gets into it and gets the crowd going.” [General admission tickets cost $155 and are available online or by calling (808) 396-7697.]

Yamaguchi, 62, grew up in Tokyo and spent some summers with relatives on Maui. As a young man, he studied culinary arts in New York City before working as a chef in Los Angeles. He left for Oahu in the spring of 1988 to begin work on his solo venture for the restaurant that opened Dec. 23, 1988.

Naysayers mocked the location in Hawaii Kai, calling it “a graveyard for restaurants.” He proved them wrong. Yamaguchi’s collection of restaurants now numbers 26, including 10 in Hawaii and 16 more on the U.S. mainland, including 6 in Southern California.

“Our philosophy has never changed,” Yamaguchi said. “Our passion for the way we cook and how we cook, and having a lot of Asian influences to our food, have never changed.”

Though the philosophy hasn’t changed, the menu at his newest venture has. Goen Dining + Bar in Kailua, on Oahu’s east side, opened its doors Nov. 21.

“We’re not duplicating what we’ve done at Roy’s in the past … that which Roy’s is most famous for,” he said. “We wanted to create a different ambience and a unique flair.”

Chicken rice is one of chef Roy Yamaguchi's favorite entrees at his new restaurant in Kailua on Oahu's East Shore.
Chicken rice is one of chef Roy Yamaguchi's favorite entrees at his new restaurant in Kailua on Oahu's East Shore. (Craig Bixel)

Goen, open for lunch and dinner, features dinner appetizers such as a beet salad with Humboldt Fog goat cheese ($9) and crispy pork belly with tomato sambal and chicharrón ($11).

“We have a cha soba with a grilled flank steak [$24],” Yamaguchi said. “We have a grilled salmon with Hijiki rice [$23], [and] we have a chicken dish, which I think is really great, with Korean 12-grain rice [$23].”

Crispy pork belly is one of the dinnertime appetizers at Goen Dining + Bar.
Crispy pork belly is one of the dinnertime appetizers at Goen Dining + Bar. (Craig Bixel)

Info: Goen Dining + Bar, 573 Kailua Road, Kailua, (808) 263-4636

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