Friday, June 17, 2011

Morimoto Waikiki: The Chef Is In The House

(all images: TheHopefulTraveler)
Adding to the luster of The Waikiki Edition is the opening of Morimoto Waikiki. The restaurant serves as a new exciting dining option for locals but also is the primary restaurant for guests of the hotel. Tonight was my first opportunity to dine at Chef Masaharu Morimoto's restaurant and also the main event of my stay at the Edition. An unexpected bonus this evening was Chef Morimoto being in the house with an additional plus when our party was seated in clear view of him in action in the open kitchen. No doubt his celebrity status from appearances on Iron Chef and Iron Chef America guaranteed an dining audience from the moment the restaurant opened.

Morimoto Waikiki features a stylish dining environment and offers Chef Morimoto's signature cuisine which integrates Western ingredients with traditional Japanese culinary techniques. The menu features locally grown fruits and vegetables and a seasonal ever-changing selection of seafood from local waters and markets around the world. This includes Chef Morimoto's raw fish which is shipped directly overnight from Tokyo's renowned Tsukiji fish market.

Chef Morimoto preparing his signature dishes.
There was a definite buzz tonight as the restaurant hosted a full house of diners with some of them stepping up to the sushi bar to sneak in a photo of Chef Morimoto in the background.

To enjoy the best of the menu we opted for the Morimoto Omakase ($110 per person) or "chef's choice" which is a changing multi-course tasting menu which allows diners to experience the essence of Morimoto's cuisine. We chose to accompany our meal with a Barone Fini Pinot Grigio ($9 per glass).

Tonight's "chef choice" was presented and described by various servers throughout the evening in the following order:
1. Toro and Hamachi Tartare: Minced fatty tuna and yellowtail with condiments of wasabi, nori puree, Maui onion, rice crackers, creme fraiche, guacamole served with a dashi soy.

2. Hot Oil Sashimi: Topped with ginger, garlic, citrus soy, king oyster mushroom, shiso then seared with hot oil to seal the flavor.

3. Bagna Cauda: Seasonal vegetables and deep fried chicken thigh served with a dipping sauce of garlic, anchovy and olive oil. Garnished with Shichimi Togarashi powder (a Japanese seven-spice blend), house made foccacia.

4. Foie Gras Chawanmushi: Thinly sliced roated duck breast over foie gras infused egg custard, dashi soy, fresh wasabi.

5. Intermezzo: Konbu cha (sea kelp tea).

6. Seasonal Nigiri Sushi: Hand-molded sushi rice draped with a chef's choice of fish, tako or squid. Presented with wasabi and pickled ginger.

7. Surf and Turf: Pan roasted lobster with a garam masala (ground Indian spice mix), wagyu filet with Maui onion jus, ginger pork with a peanut sauce, pearl marmalade, macadmia nuts, creme fraiche.

8. Pre-desert: Kuro mitsu (Japanese sugar syrup) gelee over soymilk panna cotta.

9. Kabocha souflee cake: Candided kabocha (pumpkin) with haupia semifredo (coconut frozen dessert).

With a french press 100% organic Kona coffee ($10, photo below) to accompany desert, the overall experience was a satisfying dinner filled with layers of various flavors from Japan, the West and Hawaii. With main courses priced between $26 for braised black cod to $85 for a 16-oz wagyu ribeye, there was a value in opting for the multi-course meal.

The service this evening was especially sharp with each course presented in a timely manner without us feeling rushed nor waiting for the next course. There is both indoor and outdoor seating available and for dinner the restaurant lights are dimmed which helps to make the evening relaxed among the noise from a full-house of diners. Reservations are definitely recommended. Save the full course meals at Morimoto Waikiki for special occasions or gatherings. Otherwise a casual group of diners can simply partake in drinks and a variety of appetizers.

See the post "Morimoto Waikiki in the Morning" for photos of the restaurant interior.

Morimoto Waikiki is located at 1775 Ala Moana Blvd in The Waikiki Edition. Online reservations taken at or call 808-943-5900. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily. Breakfast 6:30am-10:00am; lunch 11:00am-2:30pm and dinner 5:30pm-10:00pm (Sun-Thur), 5:30pm-11:00pm (Fri & Sat). The restaurant bar and lounge is open from 5:00pm-11:00pm 7 days a week. Visit for more information and menus. Chef Morimoto prepares his dishes at his Waikiki restaurant about every three weeks.

Note that the food of Morimoto Waikiki is exclusive to the restaurant. All other food service for the Waikiki Edition's bars, lounges and room service is prepared by the hotel kitchen.

This is one of a series of posts about the Waikiki Edition. Click HERE to view the full series of posts.


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