Recently I had the enormous pleasure of dining at Morimoto in Waikiki. The name Morimoto might sound familiar to you and it should! Masiharu Morimoto is the chef that has gained infamy across the globe from his stints on the original Iron Chef as the successor to Koumei Nakamura, and on Iron Chef America. He has three restaurants in the United States, located in Philadelphia, New York, and Florida--and has two in India, expanding his reach to both Mumbai and New Delhi! My family and I were super excited to try the famed Iron Chef's recipes and experience his aesthetic.
The overall decor of the restaurant is very fresh and clean; the aesthetic of the restaurant utilizes a palette of fresh celery greens, creams, off whites, and turquoises. I think the restaurant did a great job of embracing Morimoto's modern cooking style and fusing it with the "Aloha spirit." The restaurant was really beautiful and I could easily imagine it being in some swanky movie with a couple of high powered executives having a relaxed lunch, but in reality there were a lot of casual diners! In a sweeping panorama of the whole restaurant, there was many a Hawaiian shirt and chino pant to be seen. The restaurant itself is very, very large with ample indoor and outdoor patio seating. The space is clean, modern, fresh, and well designed (some of the beautiful vessels and plates that our food came served in was even custom ordered by Morimoto himself) and it seems like the restaurant itself is built for "high traffic."
The hostess was friendly and seated us at our table very quickly, while the waiter that served us the entire night was friendly, talkative and never forgot to refill our waters. There was a small incident that I completely blame our waiter for and I will shamefully tell you the story. My family and the waiter were having a friendly conversation and I told him how I have watched Iron Chef ever since I was a child and how I loved Morimoto. It turns out, in a freak coincidence, that Morimoto himself was visiting his restaurant and working at the sushi bar. Our waiter had told us that he doesn't mind taking photos with patrons and my father and I eagerly rushed over to the sushi bar to snap a photo. However, we learned after the fact that Morimoto doesn't like to be disturbed when working. He obliged us with a photo, however gruffly. Even though the restaurant itself was pretty empty, it was clear that he did not want to be disturbed when working behind the sushi bar. I was pretty embarrassed and Morimoto looks pretty gruff, but here's the photo nonetheless.
Now onto the meal! My family had decided to order more of Morimoto's cooked and "innovative" dishes versus simply choosing the sushi "omikase." So you might not see as much sushi and sashimi as I usually post in a Japanese restaurant review. ;) I hope you still enjoy!
|Toro Tartare: wasabi,, maui onion, dashi-soy|
To eat the delicious tuna tartare, Morimoto gives you small stainless steel spatulas to scrape the tuna tartare out of the clear plastic dish, drag it across all the condiments, and finally dip it into the dashi-soy. I really, really enjoyed it. I think all the flavors, both traditional Japanese flavors, of the wasabi, rice crackers, soy sauce and seaweed, and the newer Hawaiian flavors of the Maui onion and guacamole blended nicely together. My only complaint about the dish is its pricing, $28, and the quantity of the tuna given. The clear plastic tray shown above is all you get--the tray itself only goes about half a centimeter deep and honestly, I feel like the price is too much to ask for such a small amount of tuna. However, I can see the reasons for the premium price....the celebrity chef, the allure of a celebrity restaurant, the beautiful presentation etc. Knowing the price and the presentation I would say that ordering this dish is an experience and it's up to you whether or not you want to pay for it.
|Oyster Foie Gras: Market Oysters, Foie Gras, Uni, and Teriyaki Sauce|
I personally prefer raw oysters to cooked ones, and these ones were most assuredly cooked to well done. The texture of the cooked oyster was firmer and paired poorly with the seared foie gras. The foie gras itself was small, lending itself to an unusual firmness because of its size. Unfortunately, it didn't have that crispy exterior and tender interior that is inherent with most well executed pan seared foie gras. Lastly, the delicate uni flavour was lost in the dish. I couldn't even taste it! The dish was just two relatively firm pieces of "meat" (the foie gras and the oyster) swimming in teriyaki sauce.
|Yellowtail Pastrami: togarashi, gin creme fraiche, candied olives|
|Live Octopus Carpaccio: hot oil, ginger, and yuzu soy|
Tell me what you think about it! ;) I've never tried it myself, and as you can tell, I'm a bit afraid to, but we'll see if I ever go to Seoul; I may cross it off the bucket list.
|Seafood "toban yaki": Keahole lobster, alaskan king crab, mussel, clam, diver scallop, spicy red-miso sake broth|
|"ishi yaki buri bap": yellow tail cooked tableside in a hot stone bowl|
Chef's Loco Moto: wagyu beef, sunny-side up Peterson farm egg, and hayashi gravy
You might be thinking that I forgot to link the photo for this...but I didn't....it was the first main dish to arrive at our table and we were absolutely famished...so we destroyed it. You can see the Loco Moto above in the image of the "ishi yaki buri bap" hiding in the background. Loco moto is trypically known as a Hawaiian breakfast dish of a hamburger patty over rice with a sunny-side egg on top covered in gravy. Of course, at Morimoto's they fancy it up with wagyu beef, locally supplied farm fresh eggs, and hayashi gravy (a demi-glace that contains beef and onions that often contains red wine and tomato sauce and slightly resembles curry). In concept it was simple, but the components and freshness of the dish really made it outstanding. I mean who can turn down wagyu beef, extra special gravy and a runny egg? I LOVE RUNNY EGGS.
|Chocolate Caramel Tart: Kona Coffee, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream|
|Chef's Special Dessert|
Dinner was so good at Morimoto's that my family went to return for lunch the next day. <3 Their menu is slightly different for lunch time, but many of the dinnertime dishes overlapped with the daytime ones. The only likely difference was that the portion size was a bit smaller--many of the items were turned into lunch sets. There is an additional sandwich section that isn't available for dinner on the lunch menu, and like the lunch sets, they are served with a miso soup and salad.
|Lobster Melt: Miso Mayo and Swiss Cheese|
The salad was well dressed with a ginger salad dressing and the fries were crisp, tasty, and slightly flavored with wasabi. I gave the pickled everything to my dad. I don't particularly like pickles....
|Braised Black Cod: Ginger Soy Reduction, Pickled Bell Peppers, Budo Mame|
|Morimoto Special Mini Burgers: wagyu beef, shredded cabbage, pork kakuni|
|Tofu Cheesecake: kinako, kuromitsu, and adzuki|
I highly recommend Morimoto's in Waikiki for anyone that's ever been a fan of Iron Chef and the Aloha Spirit. The decor is fresh, peppy and beautiful, while the service is high class, friendly, and accommodating. I find that ordering food off the menu reflects Morimoto's performances in kitchen stadium. Some dishes are out of this world and others are more aesthetically pleasing than palette pleasing. I hope I've given you guys a relatively good idea of what some of his dishes are like and you're able to put this information to use when visiting his restaurant. When I go next I think I'm going to try the ramen, it's what Morimoto himself ordered when he sat down to entertain some friends! Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll visit again soon.
Kid Friendly: Yes