10 Dec 2008

Roy's Restaurant, Las Vegas

You often hear around town that Las Vegas has the largest Hawaiian population outside of the state of Hawaii.  As such, in this desert oasis, there’s no shortage of Hawaiian themed restaurants. A strong candidate for the best has got to be Roy’s.

James Beard award winner Chef Roy Yamaguchi opened his first restaurant in Honolulu in 1988. Today, he has over 37 restaurants around the world, and is the standard bearer for Hawaiian Fusion cuisine. Blending food and the “aloha” spirit in a dynamic way, European techniques and Asian cuisine create a fine dining experience unlike any other. 

And the food? You won’t find better fish in Las Vegas any place. The plates look amazing and taste even better. What more, the service is consistently excellent, with a straight from the heart aloha style which always puts the the guests' needs first.
JetSetWay tip – Often Allyn and I go there just for sushi and invite the chefs to make what they please. They seem to enjoy this and invent rolls that are not on the menu, or any other menu for that matter.

Visit them online at

09 Dec 2008

Chaya Brasserie, San Francisco

San Francisco is loaded with outstanding restaurants. Recently, with our good friends Terye and Jacob Levy, we ate at Chaya Brasserie, located down in the Embarcadero.

This place is great and has one of the most spectacular views in the city.  The industrical-chic decor blends well with the Franco-Japanese cooking Chaya introduced to the Bay Area in 2000 (and Los Angeles 1984). In Japan, the legendary and original Chaya restaurant has been around for 358 years. Wow.

JetSetWay tip – Try to get one of the few window tables up front with the Oakland Bay Bridge view.  The 1989 earthquake helped by collapsing the unsightly freeway out front.
As per usual in this town, we all had a great dining experience. The food, ambiance and service were all up to the high-end San Francisco standards.
As a Seattle native, I am almost embarrassed to say that the Salmon entrée was as good as I have ever had.

However, Allyn, who is a Sea Bass aficionado, did not care for her fish. She was not even sure that it was Sea Bass. Her decision to return the mystery fish was an easy one, as it was dry and overcooked. Our helpful and apologetic waitress was very quick to accommodate.

Don't miss this place on your next trip to San Francisco. Until then, visit them online at

08 Dec 2008

Tadich Grill, San Francisco


Tadich Grill is a true San Francisco institution. It still looks, feels and tastes the same as when I first visited there in the 60s during college, 70s for business, and 80s just for great food. The restaurant reflects the unique fun and historic experience that is San Francisco, drawing heavily on its Gold Rush roots.
It is an eccentric place, that much is true. But this 150-year-old, continuously open restaurant serves some of the best Seafood anywhere. Located in the financial district, Tadich Grill almost always has a line during prime time, takes no reservations, has waiters who some consider abrasive, looks like it is from the past, and is not cheap.

That being said, don’t miss it! There's a good reason it has been around for so long. Its unequalled charm and excellent food keep people coming back decade after decade.

As it was Allyn’s birthday, we each started with a Bloody Mary which was as good as it gets. Their San Francisco sourdough bread is such a treat, that it is served in restaurants all over town. My clam chowder and crab salad was superb, and her smoked trout was terrific.

Visit them online at

01 Dec 2008

Michael Mina's Stripsteak, Las Vegas

Stripsteak, at Mandalay Bay, is a home run.  For years, way before the tough times, I have been saying that Las Vegas restaurants are the best group in the world for food and décor. Often, though, even if we have good professional service, restaurants seem to be understaffed, which negatively impacts the overall experience.

This definitely was not the case with Michael Mina's Stripsteak. Our waiter, "Hammer," was superb, but so was the hostess, the bussers, the sommelier, and two managers. We had an elderly gentleman with us who had a bit of a noise problem. Without being asked, the staff immediately turned down the music. Furthermore, the manager even personally walked him to the restroom.

Now, let's talk food. I was with a party of four, who were all going to see the musical "Mama Mia" at Mandalay Bay. Our challenge was to have a deluxe yet "simple" meal, in 1.5 hours: a great steak for the host, vegetarian for the granddaughter, and fish or foul for the ladies. (As you already know, I will eat anything if it is delicious).

I don't know if "gourmet steak house" is an oxymoron, but that is exactly what Stripsteak is. Everybody knows that great steakhouses have great meat. But, surprisingly, vegetarians also do well at great steakhouses as they always tend to have great sides.

And the sides here are very special. We had delicious carrots that had a special orange flavor. The mac and cheese had a truffle sauce that worked perfectly, and the cauliflower with curry was fabulous.

JetSetWay Tip - The whole fried chicken is great, but way too big for even a hungry person. If you have it, split it.

Do not confuse the Bibb lettuce wedge with a classic iceberg lettuce wedge. This is more like a chunky, fancy salad, with a delightful dressing that was a tangy avocado tarragon flavor: very good, but not the norm.

You know how all of the fancy restaurants are now starting with a little special treat from the chef? This group opened with three types of French fries, with three sauces (Michael Mina has long been famous for cooking items three ways or with three sauces for patrons). I could have made an entire meal with the fries with truffle oil, dipped in truffle sauce. I almost did actually. What a great dining experience.

Visit them online at:

30 Nov 2008

Lowell's Restaurant and Bar, Seattle

If you want to eat at a casual, non-fancy place actually in the Pike Place Market, then Lowell's might be for you.

It's been in business over 50 years and is still going strong. There are different rooms with different (relative) ambiance and options. They call themselves "almost classy" which is a stretch, but it is a kick and the food is perfect for what it is.

You can order on floor one and either eat there, or on the third floor which is a nicer spot. They bring the food up to you and it doesn't take long at all.

The second floor has table service and a great bar along with the view. I was quite impressed with Manny's ale which was new to me.

I'm a major clam chowder fan. It is very good at Lowell's compared to virtually all others around the country. But great chowder is the norm for Seattle. The burgers here are also great. The blackened salmon tacos in a corn tortilla work well for those who like a Mexican flair.

Breakfast is actually supposed to be their best meal. I hope to try that next time around. Visit them online at