Large prawns in a tangle of pad thai — threads of carrot and daikon radish tossed with rice noodles — seem quite comfortably Southeast Asian, while charbroiled short ribs (of beef) are as tender and engagingly stringy as Grandma's pot roast on a chilly Iowa night.
I was pleased that the hibachi-grilled salmon was wild king salmon presented on a molded pad of jasmine rice, though it seemed a bit late in the season for the fish to be local. The dish I found most representative of Roy's local sensibility was a mahimahi filet, crusted with macadamia nut crumbs (a very Hawaiian touch), then sautéed and served with lobster-butter sauce (a rather French touch, I thought) and thick slices of new potatoes. The overall effect was less one of fusion than of California cooking. One minor note of discontent: the potatoes were undercooked.
Our friends, who are Roy's devotees, urged upon us the melting hot chocolate soufflé, an innocuously cakey-looking object that was indeed filled with melted chocolate. At the touch of a fork, it oozed out like lava onto the plate. Less dramatic, but also texturally memorable, was a macadamia nut almond tart — a disk of one's own, tasting a lot like pecan pie and topped with crumbles of macadamia nuts and a shift knob of vanilla bean ice cream. The tart was almost too sweet for me.
The devotees made a point of saying they prefer Roy's to Boulevard. I am not sure I agree with them, but I understood their point, and perhaps the real news is that Roy's and Boulevard can be mentioned in the same sentence these days — can be compared. The two, while neighbors, are very different sorts of restaurants, but each is a San Francisco restaurant, sprinkled with a bit of the local pixie dust. For Roy's, member of a chain whose roots are halfway across the Pacific, that's certainly some dust it’s glad to have. SFBG
Lunch: Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.
Dinner: Mon.–Thurs., 5:30–10:30 p.m.; Fri.–Sun., 5–11 p.m.
575 Mission, SF