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Meet 'Fusion' Chef Roy Yamaguchi

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I jumped on the chance to interview James Beard Award winning Chef Roy Yamaguchi, having enjoyed dining at multiple locations of his Roy's Hawaiian Fusion restaurant across California and Arizona. The Japanese-born Yamaguchi opened the first Roy's in a suburb of Honolulu, Hawaii in 1988.

I’ve often referred to Roy's as my “favorite chain restaurant” and was curious how Yamaguchi had created a 30-plus location restaurant chain where each location was not a carbon copy of the next.

Aside from a handful of SoCal restaurants (Anaheim, Downtown Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Pasadena, Woodland Hills,) he has deeper local ties, having ran a restaurant on La Cienega in the '80s called 385 North. "A lot of Asian influence with French food," he said of the food. "Really, nobody was doing that. It was well received, but we just didn’t executive financially, so it didn’t work out.”

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion recently launched a rewards promotion, the Ohana Tour, that runs until August 31. “We were looking for ways to get in touch with or guests more,” he said. “Since we have five restaurants that are in close vicinity, we felt that it would be a good chance for us to reach out and have this program where the guests can come to three of the five.” The grand prize is a trip to Hawaii to dine with Yamaguchi.

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LAist recently had a chance to chat with Chef Roy, in from Hawaii, who was paying a visit to his Woodland Hills location on Topanga Canyon.