I only ever dined at Morimoto’s in The Modern once. The food was pretty good, but the highlight of the meal was meeting Chef Morimoto (even managed to snag a picture with him). When I heard he was opening two new restaurants, Morimoto Asia Waikiki and Momosan, I figured we’d end up trying them out one day. Lo and behold, with no 4th of July plans – in part since it was on Wednesday in the middle of the week – we decided to celebrate America’s birthday by trying Morimoto Asia.
Both of Chef Morimoto’s new restaurants are located in the newly renovated Alohilani Resort (formerly the Pacific Beach Hotel). Self parking was easy enough to find, but the restaurant was a bit of a scavenger hunt. To reach the restaurant we walked out of the parking structure, into the hotel lobby, past the front desk to the shops area, then down a hallway. In that hallway we took the wrong elevator, had to come back to the ground floor, then found the correct elevator tucked away farther down toward the Waikiki beach side of the property. Needless to say some additional signage to guide unfamiliar patrons would be a welcomed improvement.
We took a table out on the lanai, overlooking Waikiki beach. It was a bit hot at first, but once the sun had settled behind the palm trees and hotels, the view and ambiance were rather nice. The menu at Morimoto Asia Waikiki represents a broad spectrum of Asian cuisines.
Doing some research online there were a few dishes that seemed popular. The first one up on our table was the plate of sticky ribs. These pork spare ribs are cooked until fork tender, then flash fried for texture. The meat was really “fall of the bone” and the flavors balanced between sweet and spicy.
Another popular dish I had read many people rave about, particularly the “sauce” created by the various elements. The sauce was very flavorful, with a nice balance of fattiness and bright zest. The fish itself was average, probably not the best quality. I enjoyed the dish in a general sense, but wasn’t as moved by it as I had hoped.
I’m a sucker for Hainanese chicken rice. When done right, the chicken is super tender and moist, accompanied by a fragrant savory rice. Morimoto’s version did not disappoint. The poached chicken breast is remarkably moist, seasoned with just a touch of aromatics and soy sauce. The turmeric rice, which was described by our server as the “real star of the show”, was flavorful and carried a little spice note which is different from other iterations of this dish I’ve had.
In addition to these we also had the garlic shrimp (pictured at the top) and the crispy pork belly. Both dies were decent, but nothing that really wow-ed the palate.
Morimoto Asia Waikiki does a fine job of executing a wide variety of Asian flavors. We liked the dishes that we ordered. The main drawback is the location (Waikiki) and the parking situation. We also felt that, while a good meal, the price point is a bit higher than we would’ve expected for what we received.
We’ll return to the Alohilani one day to try Momosan!
Alohilani Resort Waikiki
2490 Kalakaua Aveue
Honolulu, HI 96815