Melissa & Mari — our new food critiquing duo

This past Tuesday, Mari Taketa and Melissa Chang did what they typically do together — eat. This time, the occasion was opening night at Morimoto Waikiki, the new restaurant by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Their assignment was to review the restaurant together. I described it as a “she said, she said” review, and they immediately knew what I was after. They decided that Mari would write the captions for the gallery, while Melissa would shoot the photos, as well as offer her take on the food. So off they went for their four-hour meal, and here’s what they produced:

Morimoto Waikiki

Picture 1 of 27

By Mari Taketa

Opening night for Morimoto Waikiki, and it’s Masaharu Morimoto’s latest moment to shine. A Michelin star for his Tokyo restaurant, another restaurant newly opened in Napa in July, and now this, the most buzzed-about new restaurant in Honolulu this year.

For local foodies, the coming of an Iron Chef restaurant is like manna from the Kitchen Stadium gods. Nonstop’s Melissa Chang and I headed to the Waikiki Edition Hotel to check it out for our first ever head-to-head review.

Photo by Ed Morita

Morimoto Waikiki
1775 Ala Moana Blvd.

I loved the way Mari played off the whole Iron Chef theme. She’s a huge “Iron Chef” fan, and it showed with the way she playfully wrote their food critiques as if they were judges on the show. All in all, I was thoroughly entertained by this review, and so were our readers.

Here’s how @GossipGourmet commented: “Love this dual review. Intimate, sincere, and offered with context. Bravo.”

@Annoddah_Dave wrote: “In the back of my mind I wondered when you would do a duet review…GREAT STUFF!!! … Please do the “dueling guns” again…tenks.”

So with feedback like that and my editor mind always trying to churn out new ideas, a new concept was born: M&M eats.

I now regularly will be sending Mari and Melissa out to do food reviews together, and I’d like eventually for them to shoot video segments, where they banter back and forth about food. Believe me, it’ll make good video.

The reason why this pairing works is because they’re VERY different people, almost opposites. Yes, they’re good friends, but I’ve always wondered how two people, so different from one another, can spend so much time with each other.

Melissa, as many of you know, is the ultimate social networker and extrovert. She happily puts herself out there in public and became well known on Metromix for organizing food adventures, sometimes with people she just met. Mari, meanwhile, comes from more of a traditional journalistic background. She’s not shy, but she doesn’t like attention. She’s reluctant to be photographed and she would rather be known more for her writing than as a personality.

I’ve had many meals with these two, and I’m always amused when they discuss food. They frequently disagree, and they’ll both passionately defend their views. They both know food well, so both arguments are compelling. Sometimes, their discussions can get a little heated, but they never get angry.

This is the dynamic I want them to capture in their food reviews, and I’m convinced these reviews will have a huge readership once people start following their adventures.

So they’re headed tonight to dine again together. Be sure to check back Saturday to see what comes out of it.

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