Saturday, January 15, 2011

Morimoto Waikiki & Wailana Coffee House, Hawaii

It’s not often The Boy and I go out for a fancy meal. Now that I come to think about it I don’t actually think we’ve ever been out for a really fancy meal together. We did go to the Meat & Wine Co in Parramatta last year, but I don’t think that really counts...does it?

I’m pretty excited when I find out that Iron Chef Morimoto has a restaurant in Waikiki. And to make things even more exciting it is in the hotel right next door to where we are staying.

Morimoto’s is situated within the trendy and stylish The Edition Waikiki Hotel. I had MAJOR hotel envy the first time we walked into The Edition. I mean our hotel was nice but The Edition is the kind of hotel where “people with money” come to stay and play.  We have money, but most of it can be found in our Monopoly game back home in Sydney.

I figure that as it’s our honeymoon and the Aussie dollar is just so great at the moment we should splurge and treat ourselves to a fancy schmancy dinner. 

The boy gets all fancy pants and swaps his thongs for enclosed shoes.  I just wash the sand off my thongs, put on a slightly less crinkled top and figure that the lighting will be dark so no one will notice we’re not dressed to the nines. And with no further adieu we are ready to head off to Morimoto’s to see how the other half live.

I’m so excited when we arrive at the restaurant, but a bit taken aback when the hostess isn’t the typical over-friendly restaurant hostess we’ve come to know and love in Hawaii.  I guess when you work at Morimoto’s you can be a bit hoity toity (right)? 

I’m later told that most of the staff at Morimoto's Waikiki are from “the mainland” so the place really does lack that Aloha Spirit we’re so in love with.  It’s a pity as, for us, this kind of dining experience is rare and I wanted everyone to be as excited as we were.  I’ve also read quite a few reviews online since our meal at Morimoto’s and nearly every one of them has a gripe about the rude staff. 

Not to worry, I’m sure things will get better once we’re inside.

The decor of the restaurant is really lovely and modern.  I suppose it call be called “Nouveau Hawaiian” with huge shell decorations hanging from the ceiling, and a groovy sea-sponge installation at the evil hostesses desk.   

This place feels expensive, but I’m pleased to see most of the prices on the menu aren’t outrageous when compared to what we’d pay for a fancy eating experience back at home.  That said, if the exchange rate was as bad as it was when I travelled to the USA back in 2006 I’d be giving this place a wide berth and heading for Denny’s.

Our waiter introduces himself to us and offers us bottled water. I’m wanting to spend my money on food not fancy water so we just opt for tap water, which is what most of the diners around us are doing.

Our waiter is a pretty friendly guy but the service is still a bit disorganised. One of our meals ends up on someone else’s table and we end up waiting an age for our replacement to arrive.  However, I do like that our food was delivered to our table in quite a spread out timeframe – it gave us time to enjoy the surroundings and the experience.  Often we’re in and out of a restaurant in under an hour, but at Morimoto’s our meal took a leisurely 2 ½ hours!

We agree to go the whole hog tonight so start with cocktails.  The Boy has a beer and I choose a Morimotini ($12) with ginko sake, square one organic cucumber vodka, and Japanese cucumber slices. I have one word for this cocktail. YUM.

For starters I’ve choose the Hamachi Tartare (US $22).  

I’ve not eaten anything like this before and I feel so fancy. Lucky for me I watched Chef Duff (aka Ace of Cakes) eating it on TV the night before so I knew what I was doing.   The smooth tartare comes with a rainbow of condiments - including nori paste, avocado cream, rice cracker crumbs and daikon - which we mix and match for a different flavour with every mouthful. 

The Boy once again proves he is superior when it comes to ordering yummy food and opts for the Crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura (US $16).  The shrimp comes to us golden and deliciously crunchy and dressed with either a spicy kochujan sauce or a delicious (and not overly spicy), wasabi aioli.  There is also a side of coconut ranch dipping sauce.  This dish was deliciously tasty – like a fancy popcorn shrimp.  I could easily have demolished the entire serving myself...but I had to share. Hurmph. 

Feeding our addiction to Soft Shell Crab Roll (US $12) we decide that we simply must try Morimoto's offering...for comparison purposes of course. I’m devastated that the plate has five pieces and not six as I’m too slow to nab myself a third morsel of this beautiful roll that is filled with tempura soft shell crab, asparagus, tobiko, avocado, scallion and dressed with a  spicy sauce.

For mains The Boy chooses Duck, Duck, Duck (US $28).  As the name suggests this dish is duck prepared three ways: seared duck breast; duck confit spring roll; and duck meatball soup. It’s not a huge meal and The Boy eats it very S L O W LY savouring every mouthful. I’m told that it is a delicious meal...wish I’d ordered it!

Instead I’ve chosen Chi Rashi Sushi “Morimoto Style” (US $32). The covered bowl arrives at our table and is ceremonially “un-lidded” to reveal a colourful assortment of sashimi served over sushi rice.  The sashimi has come diced which surprises me as I expecting the familiar slices of sashimi that I’m so used to. I’m tempted to dunk all my sashimi into the soy sauce provided but the Japanese man at the table next to me is telling me that this would be a crime (all via hand signals and head nods).

We umm and ahh over whether to have something from Morimoto’s dessert menu.

I can tell though that The Boy has his heart set on a piece of Apple Pie Ala Mode from the homey Wailana Dinner down the road.   

Within minutes we’re seated at the counter at this basic coffee house stuffing our faces with piping hot Apple Pie and Hawaiian Deep Fried Ice Cream.  We breath a sigh of relief as we inhale our desserts, knowing we're back with "our people" in the "real world" - eating pie that costs about $3.50 a serve. 

I can tell the boy is thinking he's a bit like Booth from the TV show Bones...sitting at the counter of his local diner eating Apple Pie. Does that mean I'm like Bones and The Boy has no idea what I'm talking about most of the time?  Whatever!

A perfect end to our posh dining experience.

Morimoto Waikiki on Urbanspoon

Wailana Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Morimoto’s can be found inside The Edition Hotel Waikiki at 1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu (

Wailana Coffee House can be found at 1860 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu.


  1. Wow, love the decor and the food, so classy. I wish I was in Hawaii! :-)

  2. oh my!! how fancy is the hamachi tartare?! goodness me! the chi rashi sushi looks awesome too. i have the bad habit of dipping sashimi in soya sauce too. :P

  3. Hi Joey - I wish I was in Hawaii too, espeically today as it's so hot and humid.

    Hi Mel - I felt really fancy eating the Hamachi was pretty good too! I still have no idea if dipping my sushi in soy is a bit no-no. It's just so tasty that way!

  4. Food looks good but I agree with you, fancy sometimes feels uncomfortable, specially with rude service. Tell The Boy that a gentleman always offers the fifth piece of sushi to his partner. Those desserts look unhealthily good, what a great way of finish your meal!

  5. That Hamachi tartare is so interesting! :o Is the Hawaiian deep fried ice cream very different to the type that we get here? And doesn't the strong AUD make things so much more fun!

  6. hey the prices looks quite decent!! however i dont thinkI will ever go Hawaii ! :(

  7. what fabulous presentations! so very jealous of your delicious honeymoon!

  8. The Hamachi tartare looks superb and almost too pretty and neatly laid-out to eat!

    Still can't get over the piece of apple pie crumbling under the weight of the ice-cream though =p

  9. I always feel like Agent Dale Cooper when eating a piece of pie in a diner. Especially Cherry Pie. Maybe that shows my age as I have no idea what Bones is either!

  10. Hi lateral eating - I'll let The Boy know what you said...hope he takes notice. LOL.

    Hi Lorraine - Hamachi tartare was was fun to eat something 'fancy'. The fried ice-cream acutally had a pastry around it, rather than the cake batter we use here in Oz. To be honest, I like our fried ice cream better. Go the Aussie Dollar is all I can say (hope it keeps it up for my trip to NYC in September).

    Hi Julie - yes, it wasn't as expensive as I had thought it would be. Hawaii is a great place to much closer than most other places for us Aussies. A good place for a stop over.

    Hi Chocolatesuze - the presentation at Morimotos was really lovely. The honeymoon was great - cost more than the wedding though as we flew over at the most expensive time of year. D'oh!

    Hi mademoiselle délicieuse - the ice cream didn't stay on that apple pie very long...we put the pie out of it's misery within seconds.

    Hi Alison - Agent Dale Who? Cherry Pie sounds pretty good though.

  11. Kewl - Morimoto's restaurant! Though that apple pie looks pretty darn awesome too!

  12. The Hamachi tartare looks really intriguing - I would've had no idea where to start with that one! But talk about chalk and cheese - that deep fried icecream looks like it'd induce a spontaneous heart attack but looks so tempting!

  13. Hi Tina - it's a pity Morimoto's wasn't around when you went to Hawaii last year. Though, you did go to the Pineapple Room at Macy's right (we didn't even register that it was there).

    Hi Forager - thanks for your comment. I polished off the deep fried ice cream and lived to tell the tale. Wouldn't want to eat it every day though...the Hamachi tartare on the other hand, I could eat it 10 times a day and still feel like more.

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