Morimoto’s Waikiki, located in the Modern Hotel (formerly the Edition), has a menu that is very similar to their other outposts in Napa and New York. What the Waikiki site uniquely offers is an Aloha ambiance with an ocean front setting.
We have participated in the Chef’s Omakase (tasting menu) in the past, only to discover that it was pretty much the same in Napa and Waikiki. We were excited when we were told that Morimoto’s offers a different Omakase for repeat eaters. Apparently, they have sets for second time Omakase orders, third time, etc. So the four of us voted and decided to put our fate in the hands of the very capable chefs for the seven-course tasting.
We ordered the 1.6L Morimoto Junmai Sake (party bottle) to pair with our Omakase experience:
The first course was the Morimoto style poke which included ahi tuna cubes, bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), avocado wasabi sorbet and finished with a dashi foam. As we experienced at the Food and Wine Festival, Morimoto has no problem pairing cheese with Ahi and it works:
Hot oil-flashed Kampachi sashimi was topped with a little bit of uni:
After a misfire of trying to serve us the bagna cauda dish, which we have already had as first time Omakase eaters (twice), they came back with the Ahi sashimi salad. The tuna was crusted with furikake (Japanese seasoning) to simulate the skin which added a salty flavor and crunchy texture. The fish was served with romaine leaves with caesar dressing which we decided to consume separately from the tasty tuna:
The Alaskan king crab leg was really spicy as it was topped with tobanjan (hot bean sauce) aïoli and tobiko (fish roe). The crab shell was perfectly cut to form a boat that the crustacean could easily be eaten from. This was one of our favorite crab preparations we have ever had:
A palate cleanser of konbu (seaweed) “tea” broth was served to prepare us for the sushi course:
The sushi nigiri featured truly fresh fish on expertly made rice. Morimoto’s fish purveyor must provide them with the choicest fish, and their sushi rice is superior to other places that we have ever had:
The full size main course on the Omakase always features a surf and turf dish. This variation provided seared duck breast, steamed clams with tiny strips of jamon iberico and a braised black cod flavored with a ginger-soy reduction. The cod was accompanied with kuromame black beans which matched the sweetness of the fish:
Dessert featured shortbread swimming in rich mascarpone cream topped with cherries and ice cream:
Contemplating over the last of the Junmai, we discussed that although this wasn’t our best experience at Morimoto, the food is consistently excellent. For this level of restaurant and price charged, service could definitely be improved (for example: plates were cleared before all were finished eating, the next course was delivered prior to finishing current course, etc.). On a Saturday night, the seating arrangement was puzzling since the restaurant was only about two-thirds full. An entire section was left empty while they sat everyone close together to involuntarily eavesdrop on neighboring conversations. A request to move to the less busy open section was finally met after manager approval.
It was an interesting discovery that they will cater the Omakase based on the number of past experiences. The second-timer Omakase was decent but wasn’t quite as spectacular as the original and is more seafood-heavy than we might have ordered on our own (which is probably not a bad thing for us). The Omakase meals are comprised of dishes that are available on the menu with split portions and a full size entrée. Only the clams and the dessert were unique items on this tasting experience. All in all, the Iron Chef is definitely putting out some tasty updates on Japanese food and is really unsurpassed when it comes to the raw fish preparations and sushi rice.
Note: The BarFlys are vacationing in Hawaii. SF posts will return soon; in the meantime, hope you enjoy these travel-related posts.