Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine {Orlando, FL}

One thing that I enjoy most about travel is eating. We usually have a Zumba Convention tradition of going to Café TuTu Tango, but we also usually have almost half of our team of instructors together. This year, I went with my friend Sarah only, so it seemed too sad to uphold the tradition without the rest of the team.

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Instead, we hit up one of my favorite chains, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Yes, I said “chain.” I know I typically like visiting local restaurants when I’m traveling, but I love Roy’s (click here to view a post about a previous visit), and it isn’t your typical chain restaurant. According to their web site, the chefs at Roy’s utilize local ingredients and even get to design a portion of the menu. I saw the menu part first hand. The fabric-bound menu had all the usual favorites that every Roy’s features, plus a whole page designed by the Orlando chef, Mac Lynch.

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Think those flowers are real? Sarah guessed they weren’t, and I guessed they were. Sarah was right!

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I love open kitchens, though I did get in trouble for trying to snap a couple closer shots of the chefs in action. Oopsie!

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For my drink, I tried out their specialty – “The Original” Hawaiian Martini – “In classic Hawaiian fashion, our Maui pineapples are drenched in SKYY Vodka, Stoli Vanil Vodka & Malibu Coconut Rum. Hand shaken to order.”

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The complimentary edamame was the best edamame I’ve had, mostly thanks to the special togarashi spice blend they use to season the bite-sized snacks. I found a similar spice blend on Amazon called, Shichimi Togarashi, and I’m strongly considering buying some to try to re-create this snack at home.

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Sarah and I were going to order the prix fixe menu but decided to order our own entrées and share an appetizer and dessert instead. For our starter, we tried the Lobster Potstickers with Spicy Togarashi Miso Butter Sauce. I’ve never seen potstickers made with lobster, and these were not only unique, but tasty, too. The crispy outside provided a nice contrasting texture to the tender lobster inside, and the potstickers went great with the sauce.

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Sarah had the Seared Sea Scallops – “Potato Purée, Pork Belly, Fennel, Apple, Honey Coriander Glaze”.

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I thought about getting the mahi mahi, but another dish caught my eye – Teppanyaki Shrimp – “House-made Togarashi Noodle, Sambal, Tomato, Garlic, Thai Basil & Asparagus”. I was worried this may be a little boring compared to some of the other entrées on the menu, but my choice was spot on for me. The thing that really caught my attention was how the noodles were house-made. I guess I have a thing for from-scratch carbs (pastas, pastries, and breads).

Not only that, but you can’t really get noodles like these anywhere else. These noodles had the (also) house-made togarashi spice blend (that I liked on the edamame so much) in the noodles. The spices gave the whole dish a fiery bite, and I loved the flecks of vegetables and fresh herbs that made it into each bite. I may have to re-order this again at next year’s convention!

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For dessert, Sarah and I shared the pineapple upside down cake, which was simple but wonderful. The cake was served hot with sweet, little bites of caramelized pineapple on top and cool ice cream with fresh fruit on the side. Yum!

By the time we were ready to go, we were on a serious food high. You know, the kind where you’re just so happy with the dining experience you just enjoyed that you’re utterly stuffed and can’t stop smiling. Yup, that was us.

Till next year, Roy’s! Thank you for another amazing eating adventure!

My Latest Work Uniform {Outfit} and Nom Nom burger

I tend to wear the same thing to work. Once I’ve found something I like, I wear that over and over and over again. Not literally the same outfit. It’s more like the same kind of outfit.

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My current uniform = cropped skinny pants (that are a little loose) + t-shirt + jacket that is a sweater that looks like a blazer (so comfy!) + heels/flats

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Not sure exactly why I love my pants so loose. Some of it is a comfort thing. Some of it is not wanting people noticing my outfit in a way other than I had intended. I like looking professional, not sexy, when I’m at work. I’ll save those stretchy skinny jeans/pants for another occasion! Either way, maybe some of it is also because I’m really a tomboy at heart. You knew this, yes?

Anywho, I scored these red pants on sale plus an extra 30% off making them only $27.99 (down from $89.99, marked on sale to $39.99)

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And this jacket has been a real staple for me on my new work project. I wear this thing almost once a week or at least every other week. I found this on sale for $69.99 and got it for $48.99 after an extra 30% off.

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Full outfit:

  • Red dress pants: J Crew
  • T-Shirt: Gap
  • Navy Sweater Jacket: J. Crew
  • Peep-Toe Heels: Banana Republic
  • Tote: Michael Kors

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Not my best picture, but you can see my shorter hair cut pretty well here. My hair has grown out a couple inches since this photo was taken (been meaning to blog it for awhile). I’m now at the point where I need to decide if I want to grow my hair out and have it long-ish for fall/winter or go short again. I’m leaning towards short…especially with Zumba convention coming up next month!

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We recently checked out one of the new-ish restaurants in town, Nom Nom Burger, which features Asian style burgers.

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The burgers are wonderful. I love the way they cook their burgers but the Asian themed toppings really take things over the top. This is a photo of the Kalbi Burger – “Sterling Silver® ground beef. Kalbi marinade. Kimchi. Fried egg. Sesame roasted nori. Spicy aioli. Roasted garlic.”

This one was good, but the Nom Nom Burger is our fave – “Sterling Silver® ground beef glazed with house special teriyaki sauce. Provolone cheese. Fresh sauteed Shiitake mushrooms with mirin. Caramelized onions with ginger orange marmalade. Mayo.”

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The restaurant features other dishes for the non-burger fan, like Yakisoba (Japanese style noodles with veggies and optional addition of chicken for $2). The noodles were great, but the burger is still tops in my eye.

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Nom Nom Burger has delicious desserts (try the “Xango” – cheesecake and puff pastry…hello!), but if you’re wanting something simple, you can always hit up the Ben & Jerry’s right across the patio.

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Reader question: What’s your work uniform?

Lake with the Fam

Rain streaming down through the trees, Southern humidity hanging thickly in the air. A wicker seat swings slowly back and forth. That was our first few minutes of down time at the lake.

We went on hubby’s family’s annual lake vacation last weekend through Tuesday. I could have stayed there all week. I mean, I wanted to stay there all week, but a 9-to-5-er only gets so many vacation days every year.

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So, we tried to make the most of our short time there.

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I met my new nephew.

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Bailey met him, too.

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He was so curious about the baby, and he kept going over to investigate and try to lick the baby’s toes. Silly corgi!

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The 13 of us (us, my MIL, my BIL and his son, and my SIL and her family, plus 3 dogs) stayed in a big, beautiful house on the lake.

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We played with the dogs…

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…and generally lounged around.

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At least, that’s what I did.

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It was a great time for me to be lazy. So, I watched TV, watched movies, and spent almost the whole time in pajamas. Well, sweat pants, technically.

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We watched Kung Fu Panda and Safety Not Guaranteed. We watched some HGTV, Food TV, and I even got the family to watch American Ninja Warrior on the last night of our trip because one of my friends was supposed to be on the show. His run didn’t actually make it to TV, which really surprised me because he almost made it through (read that on his Facebook later). They showed some people who didn’t make it past the first obstacle, so that bummed me out, but I’m sure he’ll try out again as soon as he can.

Anywho, I also got a little geeky and started the PHP course on codecademy.com, which was actually fun for me.

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And there was time for books, too! I decided to try out reading on an iPad for the first time and downloaded the sample for The Lean Startup. I wasn’t sure if I’d like reading on the iPad, but it was actually pretty awesome.

I got back on track with reading the Fire Starter Sessions and even had a “dream funeral” (where I wrote down some dreams I need to let go and then burned the paper). A fire pit outside of the lake house made for a perfect reason to go ahead and do this. And as suggested, I wrote down some new dreams when I got back inside.

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And it’s tradition for us to cook one of the meals for the trip. Since my SIL and her family are vegetarian, we decided to do chili again. I made my slow cooker 3 bean chili recipe, but I left the meat out. It was still really good!

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We also brought some jalapeño cornbread from our local Great Harvest.

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Yum!

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Hopefully next year, we’ll have more flexible schedules so we can stay the whole week! That’s my goal at least.

Thanks for reading!

Parent Visit and My First Martial Arts Class

It’s been a busy week of research. As always, I have so many ideas floating around in my head, and I find myself chasing after all of them. Or at least, too many of them. I’ve spent the week post-work and post-Zumba looking up twitter bootstrap templates, wordpress themes, and hip hop videos. It’s been an interesting mix.

Anywho, I wanted to share some photos from last weekend – some about eats and a visit to see my family.

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I picked up these beautiful radishes at Atherton Mills market. I sliced them and added them to romaine lettuce, and boom…I had a much more interesting salad with that simple addition. The radish slices added great crunch and flavor. As a bonus, the salad was more pretty and colorful, too!

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Spaghetti…always a classic dinner, at least in our house. We got these meatballs at Earthfare and just cooked them with some bottled marinara sauce.

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We got to my parent’s house pretty late since we had to pack and leave after work on Friday. I brought workout clothes in case my sister wanted to do a Zumba class or something, but she had a different idea. On Saturday, she took me to my first martial arts class! Actually, I did two classes – Wing Chun and Muay Thai. Both classes were really great in different ways, and I enjoyed the teaching style of the instructor at Raja Academy. I got to throw my sister around and kick the crap out of some punch shields. Just kidding. Ok, I did, but I also learned some basic Wing Chun and Muay Thai moves, both defensive and offensive. We practiced some blocking moves and then punching, kicking, kneeing, and elbowing. I had a blast and hope to try martial arts again soon. I think I’d only have time to focus on one, and my sister thinks Wing Chun would be a good fit for me. We’ll see!

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Mom and dad were really excited to show me their garden updates. They’ve added some hydrangeas.

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Their kale (curly and dinosaur) are really growing great.

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The garden is currently a mix of spring and summer vegetables.

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They have a bunch of squash and zucchini coming in.

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Plus, they added a whole other garden section. They’re really going to have a lot of vegetables this year!

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Oh, and they have fruit now, too! I think this is their first strawberry of the season.

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We picked some of the kale for dinner.

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Dad is thinking about going vegan for his health, so my sister and I made a big batch of vegan chickpea and barley soup with lots of vegetables, based loosely on this soup.

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I served the soup with salt I brought back from from The Ritz at Amelia Island from our recent Florida vacation. I bought my parents a small box of the pink Himalayan salt.

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On Sunday, we headed downtown to look at some of the art galleries.

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Unfortunately, the galleries were closed, but we did take a pit stop at the tea shop, O-CHA Tea Bar, by the river.

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And another plan was thwarted when we tried to go to Pita House for lunch. Who knew they were closed on Sundays?! Luckily, another family fave was open – Saffron Indian (warning – site has sound on for those of you at work or other quiet environments).

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Sis and I both started with hot tea.

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And then, we hit up the buffet.

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Plus, we had plenty of naan. Love this stuff! Yay carbs!

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My parents sent me home with lots of fresh veggies – zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and kale. Can’t wait to eat those up!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ginger Soy Grilled Chicken (Only 3 Ingredients) {Recipe}

How about an easy chicken recipe to grill up this summer?

Recipes with few ingredients are my fave. Isn’t it such a pain to go to the grocery store and pick up a dozen things to make one meal? I mean, sure it’s worth it once in awhile or for a special occasion, but for everyday eats, I’d rather just have everything on hand. I may not have fresh ginger at all times, but I always have soy sauce. And ginger is easy enough to pick up with the chicken.

I normally don’t do recipes with marinades because I think they take too long (and when you’re often coming home after most people’s dinner time, you need fast-fast-fast), but given the simplicity of some of them, I don’t mind doing a little multi-tasking while I’m letting the chicken get delicious.

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Ginger Soy Grilled Chicken (Only 3 Ingredients) {Recipe}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Here’s a super easy way to give chicken full-on flavor. Just use tasty soy sauce and vibrant fresh ginger in a quick marinade. A quick turn on the grill, and dinner is ready! The chicken is a bit salty due to the soy sauce, so be sure to serve it with plain rice to balance the flavors.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • sesame seeds, optional, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add soy sauce and ginger and whisk to combine. Set aside ½ the marinade in a small bowl (cover until ready to use).
  2. Marinate chicken in ½ the marinade for 30 minutes to one hour. Note: I like to take a large ziplock bag and roll the sides down. I’ll put the bag in a large bowl (see photos above), add the chicken, and pour the marinade over the chicken breasts. Then, I seal the bag and use my fingers to move the chicken to make sure they’re covered all around by the marinade.
  3. Pre-heat grill. Grill chicken, brushing with reserved marinade occasionally, until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on grill type and heat level.
  4. Serve with rice and vegetable of choice (I liked steamed broccoli or grilled zucchini) and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Enjoy!
Notes
Prep time: about 5 minutes to mix and 30 minutes – 1 hour to marinate, depending on how patient you’re feeling.

***
Click here for another 3 ingredient TCL chicken recipe with lemon and rosemary!

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As for life lately, I just spent a great weekend in Greenville visiting my family for my dad’s birthday and for a belated Father’s Day celebration. I took some photos to share later this week. And I still have a bunch of recipes to post, including a variation based on this one!

Happy cooking! Thanks for stopping by!

Shopping Downtown and Salt at the Ritz {Amelia Island, FL}

We spent a lot of time walking around downtown Amelia Island on our Florida vacation and made a couple stops as we went.

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I loved this cute little boutique, lori + lulu, where I got a pretty, flowy, coral top that I’m planning to wear for work and fun. Make that – I’ve already worn to work. :)

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{post-lunch ice cream}

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I loved this antique market, 8 Flags, where I found some vintage silver wear for food photo props. They had a lot of interesting memorabilia in there, so it could be fun to visit, even if you don’t think you’re in the mood to shop (though you’ll likely find something you like – they have a ton of stuff).

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After our boat tour, lunch, and ice cream, we headed back to our B&B, the Hoyt House, to relax.

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Isn’t the house gorgeous?!

***

And then it was time for dinner.

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When I originally asked friends and co-workers for suggestions on a Florida vacation spot, the Ritz at Amelia Island was one of the first (and top) recommendations. Unfortunately, they’re not pet-friendly, so I’m really glad we were able to find the charming Hoyt House where Bailey was a welcome guest.

Fortunately, the Ritz does have a few places non-guests can visit, like the Spa and Salt, one of their on-site restaurant.

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Salt’s theme is pretty obvious – it’s all about the salt. There are pink Himalayan salt lamps and candle votives all around. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you’re greeted by a display of various salts of all shades, shapes, and flavors – they have over 40 types!

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We decided to try the Chef’s Adventure Menu. I was a little nervous because I’m not all that experimental with my food, especially when it comes to gourmet eats. But, after talking about it more with our waiter and after he assured me he could make sure I didn’t get anything raw (sushi – ok, beef tartare – hmm?).

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Our waiter gave us two glasses of sparkling wine, I’m guessing because he found out we were celebrating our anniversary.

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There was bread a-plenty in three options. We didn’t want to fill up on this, but…

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…they had butter from France to enjoy with the bread…

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…and a cute serving dish of three of their signature salts. We started with three types with the bread and got two more with the main courses.

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So, you got to top the bread with French butter and gourmet salts. Yum! I’ve never topped bread with salt before, but it was a fun and interactive way to eat it.

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I’m so glad the kind team at Salt printed a copy of the menu for me because I would never remember all the intricate details of this wonderful tasting menu. First up, we started with an Amuse Bouche – “Strawberry Gazpacho / Toasted Pistachios / Micro Basil”. This was a great way to kick our meal off as the gazpacho was light and refreshing.

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As soon as we saw our first dish of the adventure menu, we knew we’d made the right choice.

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“1st Course: Kajiki Wrapped in Potato / Pickled Snow Peas / Yuzu Gel / Rice Crisp / Gremolata”

Isn’t this one gorgeous!? I think I would have been okay to eat this one raw (or less cooked), but since we’d already talked about no-raw-foods, the chef cooked mine a little extra. I thought it was still delicious – one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The fish had a great texture and flavor, and I really enjoyed the crispy potato outside. The little details of the micro greens and edible flowers were icing on the cake. The combination of ingredients was just so unique, and I’d never had kajiki before. Who knew I liked it? Too bad kajiki seems to come from the West coast because I would totally order this fish again. I’d love to order the dish again, too, but I’m not sure you can even do that, and it’s a little far for dinner from home anyway.

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“2nd course: Hawaiian Gray Snapper / Corn & Lobster Ravioli / Grilled Squash / Tomato Vinaigrette”

The 2nd course was another happy surprise. I’m not a big fish eater, so I rarely order it, and I tend to stick to the same types, but apparently I like Hawaiian gray snapper. Yum! But, it wasn’t just the fish, the entire plate was a playful medley of deliciousness. And just look at all those colors. I thought every bit of this was a pleasure to eat, and surprisingly, hubby said he thought it was the best kale he’s ever had. He doesn’t even like kale that much, but he enjoyed it this time.

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We had a great view of the ocean just outside and watched the sun slowly set as the skies turned from blue to pink.

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We didn’t do the wine pairings of the dinner, but I did get a glass of red to go with the 3rd course.

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“3rd course: Wood Grilled Beef Tenderloin / Purple Potato Espuma / Fried Egg / Fava Beans / Morels / Chimichurri”

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We were starting to get pretty full by this point, but we kept going. The beef was very tender and had a great flavor. I loved the nice sear on the outside. And, I’ve always wanted to try morels. I feel like those are something I only see on Food TV. You guys know I’m not much of a mushroom fan, but I thought they were quite tasty and went very well with the beef. I also really enjoyed the fava beans and various sauces on the plate.

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Check out the tempura poached egg! I’ve definitely never seen that before.

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And for dessert: “White Chocolate Mousse / Caramelized Rhubarb Compote / Fresh Strawberries / Creamsicle Ice Cream”

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I was so happy dessert was light because we were truly stuffed by the end of this meal, though we were slightly crossing our fingers that we would get one of the soufflés we kept seeing at tables around us. The dessert was a unique mixture of mousse, compote, and ice cream. I enjoyed experiencing the different textures and temperatures of the components of this dessert.

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And since we were so absolutely stuffed from dinner, we took our complimentary sweets (and salts – not pictured) to go and enjoyed them on the car ride home. I also stopped by the Salt shop earlier in the week and selected a couple salts to bring home for cooking later.

We had a wonderful anniversary dinner at Salt at the Ritz. The service was impeccable, and the food was so unique, beautifully plated, and simply delicious. I’m so glad we tried that adventure menu because it really helped make the entire experience extra special.

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My other Florida road trip posts are available here:

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Thanks for reading! Want to have a say in what recipe will be blogged first? Go to my Facebook page and like your favorite photo to vote (click)!

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