Roy's menu is Hawaiian fusion, a concept partially-embraced by Tchoup Chop, which has a broader Polynesian-Asian scope. Under Richie, the kitchen excels — from start to finish — as never before.
It was almost game over with the "wow" factor from the "kicked up" crab cake ($13) and the wasabi-cured salmon Napoleon ($8.50). The cake lounged in a mango-habanero butter sauce and included a wonderful caramelized pineapple compote. The Napoleon was stacked in a cone-shaped glass with lovely layers of diced salmon, avocado, tomatoes, nutty crème fraîche. The large, rumpled wonton chips on the side were perfect for scooping.
From the sushi selection, we shared a spicy tuna roll ($8). Tucked inside each piece was a fiery spark that went well with the Polynesian cocktails.
For entrees, the seared tuna ($26) had a fiery crust and was lightly bathed in a ginger reduction. However, the fish came on a dark plate. The yellowfin exploded with flavor in the mouth, but had no visual appeal as the fish blended into the background with the fingerling potatoes. A lighter colored plate would have done the tuna justice.
The colossal seared sea scallops ($27) rose from a bed of creamy sweet corn risotto that I must have the recipe for. And the beer-braised beef short ribs paired with potatoes mashed with caramelized onions was a triumph of tenderness and comfort.
The roasted duck breast ($26) was equally tender as were the bok choy and bell peppers alongside. The fowl had subliminal notes of honey and aged rum.
For dessert ($6.50), try the baby ice cream sandwiches made with decadent white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and dulce de leche ice cream. Fans of Emeril Lagassee will not be disappointed with his signature banana cream pie.
This restaurant gets its name from Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans. Lagasse came up with the name for a restaurant he planned to open in the Crescent City but that didn't happen. He resurrected the name and built a concept around it for his second Orlando restaurant.
Tchoup Chop is a stunning space. A serene pool runs along a portion of the restaurant. At one end of the expansive room is a bar with towering shelves. At the other end, turquoise tile covers the walls.
Lagasse brings the fame to Tchoup Chop, but Richie in the kitchen is what has kicked it up more than a notch.
Food Editor Heather can be reached at 407-420-5498 or email@example.com.
The dish on diningEmeril's Tchoup Chop
Where: 6300 Hollywood Way in Orlando, at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal.
When: 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins accepted.
Dress: Business- or smart-casual attire.
Wheelchair access: Yes.