We Tried Margotto, Kaka‘ako’s New Truffle-Centric Restaurant
Choose your menu, choose your truffle quantity and let the shaving begin.
I swoon at the mere mention of truffles. There’s nothing like them. I love them on everything—they add a distinctive umami characteristic to dishes that is just heavenly. So truffle lovers like me have eagerly been awaiting the opening of Margotto Hawai‘i, a truffle-focused restaurant based in Tokyo. It’s a new dining concept for the local scene—truffle-centric tasting menus with dishes that reflect a marriage of Japanese and French influences, with a bit of Italian.
I was impressed with the experience at a recent media dinner. There are tasting menus of four to five dishes for a base price of $85, or 10 to 11 dishes for $100. Truffles are extra: You specify the quantity you want (or can afford) shaved over your dishes. For example, if you only want $25 worth of truffles per person, they will shave them accordingly. Margotto currently offers milder summer truffles, which cost about $1 per gram, so you will get a pretty good amount. In the winter months when there are more premium truffles, you may need to double the price. At sister restaurant Margotto e Baciare in Tokyo, if you’re on a baller budget, you could order $5,000 worth, in which case you can take home the whole truffle.
Owner Robert Hori says bulk purchases of caviar and truffles enable him to get a better price, which he passes on to customers. “I wanted to have a restaurant that offered an abundance of truffles,” Hori explained. “Many times, you go to formal restaurants with white gloves, and when you order truffles, they give you a couple of shavings. I want my restaurants to be comfortable, fun and reasonable.”
You can add supplements like Margotto’s signature beluga caviar monaka (a Japanese clamshell wafer) for $30. When this came to the table, I stared at my plate for a long time because I knew that although it would bring me great pleasure, the euphoria would be gone in an instant and leave me depressed. But you can see that it is a very generous serving of caviar, so I was able to stretch it into four bites!
Not all dishes will have truffle shaved on them. My favorites among these included the Kumamoto oyster appetizer, and the scallop dish—in fact, the silky Maine diver scallop was so unctuous that I kept describing it as fatty even though we all know that there’s no fat in a scallop.
I definitely swooned with the truffle dishes, including two with Waimānalo TKG eggs. One was a sunny side up toast featuring fluffy milk bread. This looked like a super fancy “one-eyed Jack,” but you’ve never had breakfast like this before. It was rich, but everything just melted in my mouth.
The other truffle egg dish was based on Japanese comfort food. Fresh Akita komachi rice was topped with a raw Waimānalo TKG egg and a dash of the chef’s proprietary blend of 10 shoyus. This accent smelled very intense and complex, but was soft on the palate.
My table also loved the house-made pasta tossed in butter and Parmesan cheese, then topped with truffles shaved tableside.
All of the flavors were elevated with the wine pairing, which is available for $75 or $120, depending on the level of wine you select. Since Margotto is a Krug Champagne ambassador, there is a wide selection of good champagnes and fine wines at relatively reasonable prices, even at $50 per bottle.
The menu changes according to the seasons and the availability of ingredients, which means that you could potentially go twice in a week and find a few different items.
Parking is available in the lot behind the restaurant or on the street. There is a limited number of free parking stalls on the Hopaka Street side of the restaurant.
Open Thursday to Tuesday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. 514 Pi‘ikoi St., (808) 592-8500, margotto-hawaii.com, @margotto.hawaii