Morimoto Waikīkī Unveils its New Bar Menu and Seasonal Cocktails
New dishes, same innovative flavors.
The tamarind-glazed sticky ribs ($10), one of the new dishes on Morimoto WaikĪkĪ’s R&D menu. It’s only served from 5 to 7 p.m. MOnday through Thursday at the restaurant's bar and lounge.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
Chef and owner Masaharu Morimoto was sitting at the sushi bar of his restaurant—his favorite spot—at the Modern Honolulu, drinking coffee. He had just wrapped up a shoot for an upcoming episode of Hawai‘i Five-0, playing, of course, himself. His scene was opposite Chi McBride, who plays former HPD SWAT captain Lou Grover, golfing at the Ala Wai Golf Course.
He whipped out his iPhone and showed me a photo of his get-up: red-and-green knickerbockers. He loved them so much, he found out from the costume department where he could order himself a pair.
But we weren’t here to talk about his third appearance on the CBS hit drama. (It airs in February, in case you’re wondering.)
He wanted me to sample some of the new dishes at Morimoto Waikīkī, which, last month, launched a new R&D menu, served from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the restaurant’s bar and lounge.
The menu boasts a handful of affordable food and drink specials, including a maki sushi of the day ($8), soba noodles with shrimp tempura ($10), shishito peppers seasoned with sea salt ($6) and a refreshing Waikīkī Mule ($7) with Bärenjäger, cucumber vodka, lime juice and ginger beer.
The new dishes are part of larger changes to the restaurant, including new team members who have created a fresh atmosphere, Morimoto says.
“My goal is to make customers happy,” Morimoto adds. “My job is right here.” He points to the bustling open kitchen. “I gotta make these guys happy. If they’re not happy, how will they make the customers happy?”
My favorite from the R&D menu is the hamachi tacos ($8), served with house-made guacamole, sour cream, Hāmākua tomatoes and thinly sliced jalapeño peppers. But a close second is the St. Louis-style sticky ribs ($10), with a tamarind glaze, fresh papaya and cardamom, and topped with red chili threads. (It just needed a musubi.)
The hamachi tacos ($8) come with house-made guacamole, sour cream and Hāmākua tomatoes.
In addition to three cocktails on special, the R&D menu offers four beer selections, including the Ozeno Yukidoke White Weizen ($8), a Witbier-style beer brewed by Ryujin Shuzo Co. in Gumma-ken Tatebayashi-shi, Japan.
While the restaurant’s best-sellers for dinner are still the crispy rock-shrimp tempura, the tuna pizza and the spicy Alaskan king crab, Morimoto hopes his new dishes, though seasonal, will become customer favorites, too.
Right now, his favorite new dish is the Peking duck ($35 for half order, $70 for full), served with small flour tortillas, cucumber, Tokyo negi, pico de gallo—what head chef Andy Reagan calls “the twist”—and hoisin sauce. Right now, this dish is only served on Friday and Saturday nights through the holidays. It’s served in pieces you have to assemble,which I love because you can adjust each taco—is it a taco?—to your liking. I loved the combo of the pico de gallo and the hoisin sauce, and the cucumbers added a nice crunch.
Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s favorite new dish is this Peking duck, which is served with flour tortilla, pico de gallo and hoisin sauce.
Also new to the menu is the tako carpaccio, served with a yuzu-soy vinaigrette.
Head chef Andy Reagan describeS this Miyazaki A5 beef perfectly: “It's meat-flavored butter.”
And there’s the tako carpaccio ($23), super-thinly sliced octopus drizzled with a yuzu-soy vinaigrette. The presentation is Instagram-worthy.
The restaurant is also serving Miyazaki A5 beef ($25 per ounce with a minimum of three ounces per order), which comes sizzling in its own fat and Maui onion jus on a hot plate. Reagan perfectly calls this “meat-flavored butter.” It was decadent and divine—and, if not for the price, I would have ordered a second round.
Don’t wait. Many of these dishes—particularly the Peking duck—won’t be on the menu when Morimoto’s cameo on Hawai‘i Five-0 airs.
The R&D menu is available from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the bar and lounge at Morimoto Waikīkī only. 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., 943-5900.
READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX