After discovering that Iron Chef Morimoto had a restaurant in Waikiki, we decided that having dinner there would be our special treat of the trip. (As you will see in future posts, this clearly did not prevent us from splurging further.) After making the reservation, we kept wondering exactly where the restaurant was located while walking around Waikiki. We then realized that it was right across from the condo building where we were staying! Not just that, but there was an overpass on the second floor that led us straight to the restaurant, which is lodged at the bottom of The Modern Honolulu.
Upon our seating, I glanced over to the sushi bar; lo and behold, Iron Chef Morimoto himself was behind the counter making sushi. I told Cee and E, and we are all beyond excited. We inquired with our very friendly and knowledgeable server if we could take pictures with him. She informed us that he was in town for the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival and that we could definitely approach him for a picture if we saw him walking around. Unfortunately, we never got a chance to take a picture but were so psyched to see him, that we all ordered the Morimoto Omakase, the tasting menu ($120). E and Cee even got the wine accompaniment.
I wasn't so sure about the tasting menu because I was worried it would all be raw fish, but upon hearing the dishes that were included, I was on board too. The first course was a red and white tartare (toro and hamachi), served in a small recessed plank. In the middle were the condiments: sweet nori, sour cream, wasabi, sweet Maui onion, Morimoto guacamole and rice crakers. We were provided a tool to scrape the fish and were encouraged to drag it across all of the ingredients, then dip the fish in soy sauce. Cee mentioned that she saw a similar dish on Iron Chef. It was a fun and interactive dish. My favourite was the rice cracker balls, even though it was hard for them to stay put. I unfortunately lost a lot of them in the soy sauce.
Toro and Hamachi Tartare.
The second course was a hot seared carpaccio of Kampachi with hot oil, ginger and yuzu soy. The fish was seared but still raw. I think I'm learning to enjoy raw fish, and a bit of sear really helps!
Hot seared carpaccio.
The third course was one of my favourites: a deconstructed bagna càuda salad. A bagna càuda is a hot dip that consists of olive oil, anchovy and garlic. It was served with beautifully coloured local vegetables, blanched rapini and pieces of focaccia. I loved the playfulness of the dish and also the way it looked aesthetically. Dipping the vegetables in the dip with was such a delight. The dip was savoury from the anchovies, garlicky and so smooth. This is definitely my kind of dip and I would love to replicate this.
The fourth course was foie gras chawan mushi, an egg and foie gras custard topped with dashi and duck. The custard was beautifully silky and creamy. I loved the dashi running through the custard, adding a savoury note. There were two thin pieces of duck in case foie gras wasn't decadent enough!
Foie gras chawan mushi.
The fifth course was the sashimi course which include five pieces of fish. I noted down that there were tuna, local moi fish, sea eel and I'm missing two other fish. With my hesitation when it comes to raw fish, this wasn't my favourite dish, which I realize is completely sacrilegious at a Japanese restaurant in Hawaii.
The sixth course was the surf and turf which consisted of lobster, Kobe beef and pork. The lobster was seasoned with Morimoto 7 spice. The spice was very flavourful with a good kick of heat; this was no bland lobster. The Kobe beef with ginger was so tender and juicy... yum! The pork loin as topped with macadamia nuts. I loved the Maui onion confit that accompanied this dish. I cleaned my plate even though I was completely stuffed!
Surf and Turf: lobster, pork and beef.
We made it to the dessert course, which was a squash soufflé, with a sweetened zucchini ribbon and Okinawan sweet potato ice cream. I really liked the mixture of unexpected ingredients in dessert form. Inside the soufflé was a sweet filling (of beans?). It was the perfect way to end the meal on a light note.
Morimoto Waikiki is the perfect spot for a special meal while you're on holidays. If you don't know what to order,ordering the tasting menu is a good choice as you get to sample a wide array of dishes. It was definitely one of the highlights of my Hawaii trip.