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I'm sure Emeril Lagasse is a nice guy, a boy from small-town Fall River, Mass., who made it good in the food trade. People certainly seem to like him. But from the looks of his second restaurant at Universal Orlando, I get the feeling he has marble fountains and paintings on black velvet in his house.

The gourmet production is called Tchoup Chop (pronounced "chop chop" and named after Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, home to Emeril's flagship), serving an oddly Polynesian/Thai/Hawaiian fare in the Royal Pacific Resort, which has an Indonesian theme. Giant glass-flower-blossom chandeliers and a central lily pond dominate the wicker and stone room, and each element is impressive by itself but jarring all together.

The gourmet production is called Tchoup Chop (pronounced "chop chop" and named after Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, home to Emeril's flagship), serving an oddly Polynesian/Thai/Hawaiian fare in the Royal Pacific Resort, which has an Indonesian theme. Giant glass-flower-blossom chandeliers and a central lily pond dominate the wicker and stone room, and each element is impressive by itself but jarring all together.

Much is made of the cocktail menu, which takes up more room than the entrees, but a Bloody Mary with wasabi, soy sauce and sake somehow didn't appeal to me. The dumpling box ($7) was a better choice, steamed dim sum filled with a heavy pork-and-ginger mixture. They were similar to the "pot stickers" ($8), pan-fried shrimp dumplings with dipping sauce. Both were good, but not much different from the acres of dumplings elsewhere.

Much is made of the cocktail menu, which takes up more room than the entrees, but a Bloody Mary with wasabi, soy sauce and sake somehow didn't appeal to me. The dumpling box ($7) was a better choice, steamed dim sum filled with a heavy pork-and-ginger mixture. They were similar to the "pot stickers" ($8), pan-fried shrimp dumplings with dipping sauce. Both were good, but not much different from the acres of dumplings elsewhere.

The "creative clay pot of the day" ($18), offering firm fish (salmon on this night) with vegetables in a deep fish broth and overcooked rice, was an interesting dish but not particularly creative. A shame, since the kitchen is capable of glory. It's wonderful to discover new flavors, and the Kona-glazed duck ($22) was an outrageous combination of rich duck breast coated in caramelized coffee.

The "creative clay pot of the day" ($18), offering firm fish (salmon on this night) with vegetables in a deep fish broth and overcooked rice, was an interesting dish but not particularly creative. A shame, since the kitchen is capable of glory. It's wonderful to discover new flavors, and the Kona-glazed duck ($22) was an outrageous combination of rich duck breast coated in caramelized coffee.

The tuna salad ($9) consisted of ribbons of seared tuna served with sprouts and crisp cucumber in a vinegar/mustard sauce (good with the vegetables but overpowering the excellent fish) and garnished with a pansy blossom Ð and an aphid. I mention this bug incident not to demean the staff (it was a fresh flower and a tiny bug, these things happen), but to emphasize that the service, from manager down, has a long way to go. No apology was tendered, no visit by the wandering "suit"; the price of the salad was deducted from the bill almost as an afterthought.

The tuna salad ($9) consisted of ribbons of seared tuna served with sprouts and crisp cucumber in a vinegar/mustard sauce (good with the vegetables but overpowering the excellent fish) and garnished with a pansy blossom Ð and an aphid. I mention this bug incident not to demean the staff (it was a fresh flower and a tiny bug, these things happen), but to emphasize that the service, from manager down, has a long way to go. No apology was tendered, no visit by the wandering "suit"; the price of the salad was deducted from the bill almost as an afterthought.

There's an air of forced urgency in the constant swarming of waiters, water pourers and plate clearers, so conversation has to be done in bursts, as someone unnervingly appears at your elbow every few minutes to ask, "How is your entree? More water? Anything else?," even to the point of reading the menu to you. There are all the trappings of good service without the finesse. The Emeril folks aren't new to the restaurant trade, they should have learned something about service by now.

There's an air of forced urgency in the constant swarming of waiters, water pourers and plate clearers, so conversation has to be done in bursts, as someone unnervingly appears at your elbow every few minutes to ask, "How is your entree? More water? Anything else?," even to the point of reading the menu to you. There are all the trappings of good service without the finesse. The Emeril folks aren't new to the restaurant trade, they should have learned something about service by now.

Tchoup Chop puts on a good show, but it'll be a long journey until they're impressive.

If someone said, "Let's go to Roy's for dinner," you might think they were referring to a chicken shack. But you should hope they're talking about Roy's Restaurant, the latest entry in fine dining along the amazingly fertile Sand Lake and Dr. Phillips intersection.

Restaurants and shops are springing up like weeds along this stretch of land that was formerly filled with, well, weeds. Roy Yamaguchi, cookbook author, TV host and restaurateur, has opened the latest branch of his empire on it.

Restaurants and shops are springing up like weeds along this stretch of land that was formerly filled with, well, weeds. Roy Yamaguchi, cookbook author, TV host and restaurateur, has opened the latest branch of his empire on it.

From the hype, I expected someplace fancier. The decor varies: a bistro feel with quilted copper panels above an open kitchen and a smattering of small tables; upscale diner with booths and bare wood tables against a beautiful river-rock wall; and a section of wine-cellar gone mad, with enormous glass-walled wine racks. A key ingredient in the Roy's experience is wine. The chain (there's more than a dozen) has partnerships with wineries that put the "Roy's" label on select bottles and sell him truckloads of premium vintages. The guy buys 1,100 cases of Pinot Gris at a time, so you'll have lots of choices.

The food also gives you choices. The menu reads like a primer in Hawaiian and Asian cooking and combinations thereof. Inamona sauce (candlenut kernels from the island of Hana) is served with ahi tuna. Shutome swordfish is basted in Thai curry sauce. I had a lovely serving of hebi (Hawaiian spearfish), a dark, oily meat that's firmer and more pronounced in taste that tuna, nicely grilled with cilantro leaves ($25). My companion had the "surfah" combination ($25), seared mahi with macadamia lobster sauce along with triple tails with Parmesan crab sauce. Unfortunately, it was presented with the two fish stacked on each other, and the sauces sort of blended around them. They were damn good sauces, even though the fish seemed a bit too bland to carry them.

Appetizers were beautiful in presentation but ordinary in taste. Coconut shrimp sticks weren't any better than standard Chinese-restaurant fare. The topping on the "dynamite" oysters reminded me of broiler-browned mayonnaise.

Certain desserts take 20 minutes to prepare. If you're like me (and of course you are), you probably can't think about dessert so far in advance, so just order the "haupia," coconut pudding in a chocolate shell that looks like a little coconut.

Certain desserts take 20 minutes to prepare. If you're like me (and of course you are), you probably can't think about dessert so far in advance, so just order the "haupia," coconut pudding in a chocolate shell that looks like a little coconut.

Roy's prides itself on "aloha service." In this case, "aloha" must be the island word for "waiter hovering over you at alternate mouthfuls." Maybe I'm getting curmudgeonly in my old age. Maybe that's why Roy's has so much wine.

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