It’s a Busy Year for Chef Roy Yamaguchi

The James Beard award-winning chef is opening four restaurants in 2016, including a new beachfront eatery at the Turtle Bay Resort.
Chef Roy Yamaguchi is excited about this take-out window at Roy’s Beach House, which opens in July at the Turtle Bay Resort. This is one of four restaurants he will be opening this year.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


Chef Roy Yamaguchi has big plans as he turns 60 this year.


He’s opening four restaurants.


The first to open will be Roy’s Beach House, a casual, 140-seat open-air eatery overlooking Kuilima Cove at the Turtle Bay Resort. It will occupy the 5,300-square-foot space vacated by Ola at Turtle Bay, helmed by chef Fred DeAngelo, who took over the operation of He‘eia Pier General Store & Deli last year. Roy’s Beach House is slated to open in late July, with longtime Roy’s alum Gordon Hopkins serving as executive chef.


The main dining area will feature teak loveseats and lounge chairs alongside traditional dining furniture, to give it a homey feel. The restaurant can also claim the beach area up to a 40-foot setback from the high-tide mark. Meaning Roy’s Beach House can host larger groups and private parties right on a white-sand beach. That, Yamaguchi says, was a big draw.


“I definitely wanted a beach restaurant,” he says. “And I thought this space was pretty cool.”


Yamaguchi walks around the new beachside restaurant once occupied by Ola at Turtle Bay.


The restaurant can set up tables and chairs on the beach, too, extending its dining area and giving diners a front-row seat to the ocean. (This was for a dinner event, part of the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival.)


And then there’s something called the Roy’s Take Out window at this new restaurant, where he will be serving more casual, beach fare such as hamburgers, salads, fresh juices, sandwiches and hot dogs to go.


Yes, hot dogs at a Roy’s restaurant.


The lunch and dinner menu for the restaurant, though, will be a bit more upgraded than the take-out window. Yamaguchi plans to serve casual takes on some of his classic dishes—such as the blackened ‘ahi, grilled beef short ribs and misoyaki butterfish—with some new additions. He’s planning on serving fresh fish in crudo form, a “great Reuben sandwich” and his version of the classic Crab Louie salad topped with a Thousand Island dressing.


Yamaguchi unveiled a few of these new dishes last Friday on the beach fronting the restaurant at the Connoisseur’s Culinary Journey of Hawai‘i, an exclusive, five-day epicurean experience that’s part of the sixth annual Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival. (Yamaguchi is one of the co-founders of the festival.) The steamed New Zealand cockles with chorizo and a coconut curry sauce; the ‘onaga lūʻau with pohole fern and chanterelles; and the Turtle Bay Trio with rib eye tataki, king crab ceviche and U-10 sea scallops will be on the new menu at Roy’s Beach House.


“It’s nice, it’s homey, it’s good, solid food,” he says. “I’m a real firm believer that people want good food. I don’t care what anybody does; it’s none of my business. I’m grounded to what I do. No gimmick. I’m just giving people good food.”


One of the dishes served at a dinner last week was this plate of steamed New Zealand cockles with chorizo, floating in a coconut curry sauce and served with grilled focaccia.
Photos: Travis Okimoto, Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival


Another dish that will likely be on the menu at Roy’s Beach House is the Hawaiian onaga, served with pohole fern, chanterelles and a petite vegetable medley.


The Turtle Bay Trio may be a signature dish at Yamaguchi’s new restaurant. This plate features rib eye tataki, king crab ceviche and ichiko sea scallop.


In addition, Yamaguchi is opening two Eating House 1849 restaurants—one at the new International Market Place in Waikīkī in August and another in Kapolei in October—and a new concept on Maui called the Humble Market Kitchin in December.


So why so many restaurants in one year?


“It’s the Year of the Monkey,” says Yamaguchi, who shares that Chinese zodiac sign. “I figured if I don’t do it this year, I’ll never do it.”


Learn more about Yamaguchi at