Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Morimoto Restaurant, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

It wouldn’t be completely accurate to say my recent business meeting in Honolulu was a grueling ordeal. The travel perhaps, which encompassed 14 hours from Detroit to LAX to Oahu. Although serious business was conducted, every day in Hawaii is like a fresh ocean breeze for the soul.
After concluding our business for the day, our party adjourned to one of the top restaurants in Honolulu – Morimoto, the namesake restaurant of Chef Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame. Morimoto Waikiki blends Japanese and Western ingredients flawlessly and takes advantage of the bounty of seafood available in Hawaii.
For our wine I selected a 2011 Chateau Sancerre, a crisp French Sauvignon Blanc that paired perfectly with our chef’s selection of sushi.
While enjoying the sunset on the outdoor deck, we also noshed on several appetizers including crispy rock shrimp tempura and yose dofu, tofu with kimshee sauce and dashi broth.
Our group included two vegans and a gluten free diner. The expertly trained staff handled their special needs without blinking an eye.
For my entrée I decided to try a Hawaiian favorite, Loco Moto. This dish is served all over Hawaii and consists of rice, a hamburger patty, gravy and an egg. Honestly, it didn’t sound too appetizing – but that’s until I became acquainted with the Morimoto version.
The Chef’s Loco Moto features Waygu beef, a sunny side up Peterson Farm egg and Hayashi gravy. The combination – pure heaven! A pedestrian dish was elevated to a memorable one through culinary skill and quality ingredients.
My wife ordered the Duck, Duck, Duck. This doesn’t mean there is a low-hanging tree branch, but rather that you are about to enjoy duck prepared three different ways. The dish features seared duck breast, duck confit spring roll, and duck meatball soup. The duck soup was served in a puff pastry shell, allowing you to break through to enjoy the deliciousness below.
The braised lamb shanks and “Angry” chicken were also popular choices with our group. The organic, spicy chicken was a winner on Iron Chef.
All were impressed with the quality of the food and the servers, who allowed you to enjoy a laid back Hawaiian evening while they paid close attention to getting all the details right. The result is a relaxing evening accentuated by great new food discoveries.
As in his work on Iron Chef America, the Morimoto dishes were also a treat for the eyes. The presentation of each dish showed an artistic yet restrained flair.

The outside deck is certainly the place to be around sunset, but the inside dining room is contemporary and stylish. You also have the bonus of viewing the chefs at work preparing your meal.

Since Morimoto lives in New York, the day-to-day operations of the restaurant are handled by Chef Jojo Vasquez, a one-time competitor on Iron Chef himself. Another nice feature of the restaurant is that 60 to 70 percent of the food comes from local sources.
In our own little culinary competition, it is no contest. Iron Chef Morimoto wins hands down.
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