Friday, July 15, 2011

Morimoto Waikiki


Upon landing at the Honolulu airport, we picked up our rental car and made our way to The Edition, a relatively new hotel in Waikiki designed by Ian Schrager and Philippe Stark (the man behind the bizarre decor of The Bazaar in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills). The hotel had seemed attractive to me for numerous reasons: First, it was newly renovated. Most of the hotels along Waikiki beach could be considered relics, though some have undergone renovations as well. Second, I rather liked the fact that the aesthetic of the hotel was soothing yet contemporary-- there was no gaudy, flowery hawaiian print to be found. Finally, I had chanced upon a rate that seemed too good to turn down. However, there was one large problem I had overlooked. The hotel is situated right at the start of Waikiki, closer to the marina that it is to the beach, and there was just no ocean view to be had. I was aware of it's location but didn't realize that it would be such a drastic difference from being right on the beach. My mom and I weren't in Hawaii to wake up and look at a bunch of boats outside our window. We were aiming to wake up with the blue sea and blue sky right in front of us. I made immediate changes to our plans upon checking in, and we would eventually end up at The Royal Hawaiian where everything is pink and 100% Hawaii.

Since we were only staying one night, there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to try out the Waikiki location of Morimoto's eponymous restaurant which is located right inside The Edition. Needless to say, I've watched my fair share of Iron Chef, and I feel a certain respect for Morimoto--him being the only chef to bridge the Japanese and American versions. The last time I had a taste of his food was during a trip to New York when I was looking at prospective colleges. That was before I starting paying great attention to what I was eating, though I remember not being particularly impressed. I was curious to see how I would find his restaurant this time around.

Sad to report, still not impressed.

It just wasn't particularly innovative, nor was it delicately refined. It seemed stuck in limbo to me--stuck between a bastardized verison of Japanese food and an upscale version with "luxurious" ingredients recklessly strewn about the menu. Not only that, the portion to price ratio was a little difficult to swallow, even for a touristy place like Waikiki.


Morimoto Waikiki
1774 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96815
tel: 808-943-5900
dining date: 7/6/11

sashimi salad
baby romaine, morimoto caesar dressing, quail egg

Having just gotten off the airplane, I chose to go with something lighter for lunch. I ordered a sashimi salad. Apparently there was some miso incorporated into Morimoto's "caesar dressing" to make it special, but I barely noticed it. There was nothing offensive about the salad, but it did not seem like a strong, coherent dish. I'm not even sure what the tiny quail egg was on the salad for--it was almost smaller than the croutons. As far as I know, it was only large enough to contribute to one or two of the many bites I took to finish this salad. Granted, the seared ahi tuna was very fresh with a furikake-like crust but, we were in Hawaii--it had better be fresh.

assorted sashimi over sushi rice

My mom ordered the chirashi, which was gorgeous to look at. It was actually the background of my desktop for a few days. The colors were so strikingly vibrant, and it seemed that all colors of the rainbow were present. That being said, the fish was really nothing to write home about.

coconut panna cotta
lilikoi noodles

Luckily, dessert was refreshing in flavor and spot-on in texture. The lilikoi noodles were long strands of sweet and sour passionfruit gelée that played off of the richness of the panna cotta. The coconut cookie that accompanied the panna cotta was the best part--it was crispy and tasted like toasted coconut. My only complaint was that the panna cotta looked like it was inverted out of a small aluminum pan. The jagged imprints of the foil could still be seen on the edges as we were taking our spoonfuls. I know it may seems like I'm being picky, but really, if that one little imperfection could be hidden (idk use silicon molds??) this would be one beautiful, refined dessert.

loved the soft green hues of the interior design

At this point, I could go on and talk in detail about our experience at dinner later that day, but I'm beginning to feel like a real negative Nancy. I have nothing but respect for the Morimoto I see on TV, but it just does not match what he's serving at his restaurant. Dinner was wrought with even more disappointments in terms of the food, and I'm not entirely sure I want to relive all the dishes.

hamachi tartar
from left to right: seaweed paste, sour cream, fresh wasabi, maui onion, Morimoto's guacamole, rice puffs, dashi soy

foie gras chawan mushi
duck breast, fresh wasabi, sweet dashi soy

However, I will say this out of all the dishes we had: The hamachi/toro tartar can be fun to eat, simply because of how it is presented. Also, the foie gras chawan mushi was the only dish we found to be really delicious. With the foie gras blended in with the eggy-ness of the chawan mushi, it was without a doubt, unctous in the richess sense of the word. The miniature pieces of duck breast that graced the top of this steamed custard were also delicious, but SO tiny! I mean really, they're not even bite-sized. They're half-bite-sized.

(fun fact: Nobu Waikiki has the same blue serving bowls!)

In all truthfulness, I had set pretty high expectations for Morimoto. Perhaps too high, but who could blame me? It's Morimoto! I used to stay up late every night in the summer time to watch Iron Chef Japan on the Food Network. Sad to say, his restaurants just don't hold the same allure for me. Good thing this was only day one of our tip to Hawaii...many more good things to come ;)


  1. I'm sorry it was lackluster although I do agree that the panna cotta looked very refreshing. So did the chirashi actually but I'll take your word for it. Looking forward to more Hawaii eats.

  2. I'm actually going to Oahu next week and Morimoto was on the top of my list. Now I'll have to reconsider it. =(

  3. Those pictures look lovely, too bad the food wasn't up to par. I wonder if his restaurant in Philly would live up to your expectations.