Hawai’i chef Roy Yamaguchi’s cuisine heads to sea with MSC Cruises

Hawai’i celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi will open an eatery onboard MSC Cruises‘ newest ship MSC Seaside, which will launch in 2017, the Swiss cruise conglomerate announced Wednesday at a cruise industry trade show.

A new restaurant which will be conceived and designed by Chef Yamaguchi will be available as a specialty fine dining alternative to the main dining room for a small cover charge, and will offer a Pan-Asian menu similar to the Hawai’i Regional Cuisine that he helped pioneer in the 1980s. Chef Yamaguchi will play a pivotal role in the design of the seagoing dining space, from selecting the recipe and menus, dining and serve ware, ambient music, wines; even the paper stock for the menus. The space will also feature a sushi and raw bar as well as a teppanyaki grill.

The seagoing concept will be very much like a land-based Roy’s Restaurant at the beginning, but that won’t be at the expense of creativity and innovation. “We will use the Hawaiian Regional Cuisine as an influence to many of the dishes we create, however, the plan is to expand the concept, introducing several elements from the Pacific Rim.” Yamaguchi said.

“Our heritage lies in the Mediterranean, where a passion for food is a way of life and we seek to bring this to life every day for our guests with always fresh, authentic food of the highest quality,” said Gianni Onorato, chief executive officer of MSC Cruises. “The enjoyment of good food plays an integral role in creating unforgettable emotions as well as enabling our guests to discover new cultures and tastes, whilst cruising on one of our beautiful ships.”

Because the ship and its dining venues are still in development, pricing for the seagoing Roy’s has not yet been set, although Ken Muskat, Executive Vice President, MSC Cruises shares that “the cost will be reasonable and offer guests an exceptional value.”

Yamaguchi opened the original Roy’s Restaurant in 1988 in the Honolulu suburb of Hawai’i Kai; that location today remains a favorite among Hawai’i residents and visitors to the Aloha State. The then-revolutionary Hawai’i Regional Cuisine (HRC) was a fusion of the classic European techniques then popular with many of the state’s resort hotels fused with fresh local ingredients and the flavors and styles of the Pacific Rim. Although the menus constantly evolve, several of the original 1988 dishes remain popular favorites to this day, from Kiawe-smoked Szechuan Baby Back Pork Ribs and Roy’s Original Blackened Ahi to the unforgettable classic seafood trio of Jade Pesto Steamed Whitefish, Misoyaki Butterfish, and Hibachi Style Grilled Salmon.

Roy’s has since grown to six locations in the Aloha State, along with some 24 others on the U.S. Mainland, Guam, and Japan. MSC Cruises has been home-porting ships in Florida for Caribbean itineraries since 2013. Cruise lines have been renewed a focus on food; Princess Cruises partnered with Aussie Chef Curtis Stone to open an onboard gastropub on select ships beginning in late 2015.

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