Morimoto Asia Waikiki, Waikiki, Oahu
2490 Kalakaua Avenue
| +1 808-922-0022
Photo by Morimoto Asia Waikiki: Iron Chef Morimoto
Sun - Sat 5pm - 10pm
Morimoto Asia Waikiki Perfect for Sunset DinnerTo succeed, a restaurant that opens in Honolulu usually has to cater to locals or derive its patrons from the ever-widening pool of visitors in Waikiki. Morimoto Asia Waikiki does both with great style. On a recent visit just before sunset, we left our car with the valet at the new Alohilani Resort across from Waikiki Beach and walked up the entry stairs to the second floor restaurant. The interior was unmistakably Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Spare yet elegant, open and inviting Morimoto Asia Waikiki welcomes the early set who may be dressed casually, to the dinner date or bar set who might want to dressy-it-up.
Our table was what they call “outside". Settling in on the covered lanai with beach and ocean views, we lingered over the drink menu. Would it be a Morimoto Sparkling Sake from the well-curated sake menu? A glass of chardonnay? An Asian Whiskey? A Morimoto Black Obi brew? We opted for cocktails with the help of our server‘s descriptions. I love Mai Tais and Morimoto Asia Waikiki calls their version a P.O.G. Tai in a nod to the Passion Fruit Orange Guava juice mixture so famous in Hawaii. They make theirs with fresh juices and with white and dark rums and a splash of Cointreau. It had just the right balance. My dinner companion tried a North Shore Mule made with premium vodka, passion fruit juice, kabosu (a citrus) juice and ginger beer. It was so incredibly refreshing and a perfect libation to toast the surfers riding the waves as the sun turned the sky orange and slipped below the ocean.
Looking around the room, the clientèle were a mix of visitors, business people entertaining guests and a few locals, but it was early. We took a look another look at the menu as our server walked up again to deftly explain the nuances of each dish. The menu is built to share which is great because there are so many things you’ll want to taste. Chef Morimoto’s concept for this restaurant is a combination of Pan-Asian foods. You’ll find Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Korean style dishes and flavors along some Western twists to ingredients. Like the steamed “pancake” served with the Morimoto Peking Duck is more of a tortilla. And yes, in addition to the eclectic menu you can have a N.Y. Strip steak if you’d like.
We ordered a Beef Carpaccio starter flavored with yuzu soy and ginger. It was one of the most tender and delicious I have ever tasted because it is made with Japanese Washugyu beef. Arriving at the exact time we were ready for it, the creamy Buri Bop was mixed at our table by our waiter. After enjoying that simple rice dish, the Morimoto Asia Waikiki signature dish, the Morimoto Peking Duck arrived. Succulent and tender, it’s served with apricot sweet chili sauce and hoisin miso by our waiter who assembles our first bites enveloped in a steamed pancake, table-side.
There so many options to suit your own style and preferences. Two local ladies next to us made a meal out of Tonkatsu Ramen and Chicken Pho accompanied by their bottle of wine.
Too stuffed for dessert we would have had the Almond Pudding with kuromitsu (black sugar syrup), tropical fruit and oshiruko (sweet bean) or the little filled doughnuts with whipped cream,or the choice of strawberry yuzu, coconut, or passion orange guava sorbets. But alas, we just couldn’t do it.
Making our way out of Morimoto Asia Waikiki we noticed the restaurant was full and the bar was packed. The pleasant hum of people enjoying their experience filled the bar. Looks like the locals love this place too. Dinner reservations a must, open for dinner only.
Note on Chef Morimoto. He began at age 24 in his native Japan hometown of Hiroshima, with his own restaurant. After learning the art of his sushi he moved to America which presented him with possibilities to expand his repertoire. In 1999 he became Food Network’s Iron Chef, his name and skills familiar to millions of Americans. After a stint at Nobu as Executive Chef he opened in Philly. Following he opened Wasabi in Mumbai and New Delhi. Morimoto New York followed. There are a string of Morimoto restaurants from Bangkok to Tokyo including his Morimoto Ramen and Sake. Dubai has opened a Morimoto Dubai and the new concept Momosan by Morimoto restaurant is also opening at Alohilani Resort for casual dining to include ramen, gyoza, yakitori and the Oahu North Shore island classic garlic shrimp.