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2 weeks agoupdated May 09, 2024

Thomas Keller’s Caviar Lounge Reopens as Asian-inspired Restaurant

Restaurant of the Week: Another Yountville location from Thomas Keller.

By Kim Ayling

While The French Laundry might be Thomas Keller’s Yountville flagship, and the restaurant that shot him to fame, the star chef’s reign over the California town extends further than impossible-to-book fine dining, with his new RO Restaurant & Lounge marking his latest opening.

Not strictly new, RO actually acts as an evolvement of Keller’s existing Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge – a luxe pop up that initially opened in the summer of 2022 to promote the chef’s own caviar label. Now in its permanent form, RO will be led by chef Jeffery Hayashi who has worked with Keller on an upmarket Asian-inspired menu.

“We’ve listened to our guests looking for a local spot that highlights some of the best Asian flavors,” Keller says. “Chef Hayashi will continue evolving the menu, and we’re excited to see where he takes it.”

[See also: Vespertine Returns to LA Restaurant Scene]


Jeffery Hayashi  chef
RO will be led by chef Jeffery Hayashi / ©David Escalante

It is unlikely that you need any introduction to Thomas Keller: the American chef is one of the most successful in the country’s history, having initially received acclaim for The French Laundry, which he took leadership of in 1994.

Since then, Keller has amassed nothing short of a restaurant empire, spanning casual bistro-style outlets to fine dining institutions. That empire currently has seven Michelin stars: three for The French Laundry, three for Per Se in New York, and one for The Surf Club in Florida.

[See also: How the Prestigious Michelin Star System Really Works]

Taking charge of the kitchen at RO Restaurant & Lounge is chef de cuisine, Jeffery Hayashi, who brings with him experience as chef de cuisine at the celebrated Madera restaurant at Rosewood Sand Hill, as well as stints at Senia in Honolulu and Mourad in San Francisco.

At RO Restaurant & Lounge, Hayashi calls on his Hawaiian roots to create an intriguing Asian-inspired menu. “Many of the dishes on our menu reflect the meals I enjoyed growing up in Hawaii but with a California twist,” he says.

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[See also: Rising Stars: Next-gen Chefs in the Michelin Guide]


food at thomas keller RO restaurant Yountville
Hayashi calls on his Hawaiian roots to create an intriguing Asian-inspired menu / ©David Escalante

While RO Restaurant & Lounge’s first menu marks a move away from the original caviar lounge’s more informal beginnings, the offering remains approachable and casual with elevated concepts pared back into sharing dishes with a focus on big flavors.

‘Bites’ includes a Hokkaido uni toast, which sees soldiers of glazed brioche lightly toasted and served with avocado and rich, umami-heavy uni. For something heartier, look to the restaurant’s sandos (a Japanese style of sandwich); there’s truffle egg salad or pork with katsu sauce.

[See also: A Guide to All Three-Michelin-Star Restaurants in the USA]

And caviar heads, fear not: RO still has plenty of the good stuff. Expect it generously dolloped on everything from BBQed asparagus to oysters, as well as a full caviar service with all the classic garnishes.   

A standout dessert of shaved ice harks back to chef Hayashi’s early childhood in Hawaii, where he enjoyed the refreshing treat after a day on the beach. His version at RO is topped with hibiscus syrup and powdered plum skin.

RO restaurant and lounge interiors
Fulk has partnered with Restoration Hardware to outfit the restaurant in fine materials / ©David Escalante


Welcoming yet still with a touch of luxe, RO Restaurant and Lounge’s design is every inch Cali-cool. The dining space is spread across a series of lounges and an inviting outdoor seating area, and has been meticulously imagined by famed restaurant designer, Ken Fulk.

Fulk has partnered with Restoration Hardware to outfit the restaurant in fine materials, from Italian leather and Grey Marquina marble to Libeco Belgian linens, with a serene color scheme of greens and natural wood tones.

RO Restaurant and Lounge, 6480 Washington Street, Yountville, CA,

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