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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Lunch Is A Terrace Treat At Morimoto

I was at Morimoto Waikiki one afternoon last week and was struck that it’s one of the few places in Honolulu with a harbor view – and with the Chart House, one of the very few places you can sit and enjoy sunset over a marina.

If you’ve only ever eaten in the dining room at Morimoto, there’s a really nice outdoor dining experience waiting.

And while most people think of the restaurant as a place to go for dinner, it also offers breakfast and lunch in an elegant, serene environment.

I was tasting wines from Chateau D’Esclans with the winery’s director of communications, Tom Schreckinger, and even though he’s on a whirlwind tour from Europe (the winery is in gorgeous Provence), via Honolulu and on to Singapore, he commented that the terrace at Morimoto was a stunning place to drink wine.

It reminded me that there are so many beautiful bars and restaurants in Honolulu doing an amazing job – there’s just not enough time to patronize them all as much as they deserve.

General manager at Morimoto Waikiki is Chad Yang, a longtime restaurant industry veteran. We talked about the fabulous lunches at the restaurant.

“At lunch we do sets that are served with miso soup, mixed green salad and sushi,” he says. “People really enjoy the food, and we have our sushi selections as well as sandwiches, steaks and sushi.”

The lunch sets are beautiful. I tried the Angry Chicken ($22) – organic chicken, roasted peppers with a spiced chicken jus – and some of chef’s wagyu beef, which was meltingly tender. The Kakuni Don ($22) features pork belly that’s been slowly simmered for 10 hours, served with simple Chinese cabbage, red onion and gobo; and there’s a sushi combination that offers a taste from the sushi bar with a variety of different sushi options, rice, soup and salad.

With the dining room popping at night, lunch is a much easier (and more affordable) way to try signature dishes from the menu and get an idea of the kind of food Morimoto serves. And I’ve a feeling that going for lunch might offer the chance of speedier, more attentive service than during evening rush hours.

Certainly the restaurant has the kind of attention to detail you’d expect from the Iron Chef. Everything is pristine, and the dining room’s pastel shades and retro chic make it one of the more interesting places to lunch in Waikiki.

Chef Morimoto is in town this week. You might catch a glimpse of him at a local karaoke bar if you’re lucky. He might be world-renowned for his cooking skills, but the man has a deep love of singing. Last time we met we were judging a food contest together, and afterwards he asked me to introduce him to an audience of unsuspecting tourists sitting under the banyan tree at the Moana Surfrider. He burst into a highly animated and heartfelt version of a popular Japanese song that left the audience quite enthralled.

Don’t expect to hear him belting out songs in the kitchen at Morimoto, though. I’ve a feeling that singing chefs are not quite the thing at The Modern.

Happy eating!

Morimoto Waikiki The Modern, Honolulu 1775 Ala Moana Blvd. 943-5900 Tabletalk@hawaii.rr.com

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