Domo Arigato, Mr. Morimoto

A recent posting on Travel Market posed the question: “What happens when you put Studio 54 impresario Ian Schraeger and hotel founder Bill Marriott in the same room?”


Before answering that question, I have to salute Bill Marriott for having the foresight to team up with Schraeger, the brainchild behind the whole “boutique” hotel movement…..think MORGANS in New York (opened in 1984, designed by Andrée Putman), followed by the Philippe Starck-designed ROYALTON and PARAMOUNT, also in New York…or the DELANO in Miami and the MONDRIAN in West Hollywood (also featuring Philippe Starck interiors).

The result of Schrager’s and Marriott’s collaboration is the EDITION hotel group, featuring sleek, cool, hip “one-of-a-kind” properties in New York, London, Miami Beach and the one I visited in Honolulu (more about that later).


Here’s what happens when those two heads are put together: OUT with floral bedspreads, IN with minimalist yet luxurious white marble lobbies and spare but stunning guest rooms. IN with the world’s best reservation systems and first class operations teams. IN with stepping up and away from predictable generic hotel restaurants in favor of top-tier chefs and operators.

So it was that a few years ago I came upon Honolulu’s new EDITION HOTEL, home to the world-class restaurant MORIMOTO.

IRON CHEF Masaharu Morimoto has great restaurants all over the world, from Vegas to Mumbai and New Delhi to Mexico City, and because he had just opened in Waikiki, I knew we had to give it a try. Someone else who gave it a try, on more than one occasion, was Barack Obama on his frequent visits to Hawaii.

The space consists of three parts: a sushi bar, the dining room and a spectacular outdoor patio overlooking the harbor, where Joanne and I dined.

We chose to make our meal out of small plates so that we could sample as many different dishes as our tummies could stand.

Although the menu has a strong Japanese emphasis, it is somewhat untraditional with nods to France (crème fraiche) and to India (curries) as well as to America (burgers) and even to Mexico (tortillas).

We started with an interactive iteration of HAMACHI TARTARE, where the hamachi is served up on a wire mesh frame along with a little scraping paddle to liberate the fish from the frame and then pair it with an array of Asian condiments.


The SMOKED SASHIMI offering was delicious as well as inventive and beautiful – stacked layers of smoked salmon, eel and hamachi, together with five little squeeze tubes of sauces, including dashi, wasabi and soy sauce and mountain peach (way better than ordinary valley peach) $24.

Deep fried KING CRAB accompanied by French fries topped with a fiery aioli was followed by two big eye tuna dishes, one with four slices of raw tuna accompanied with a small Caesar salad topped with a poached egg (yeah, I thought it sounded kinda weird too, but it was actually quite good). Next was a surprise called a TUNA “PIZZA” – raw tuna topped with cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of anchovy aioli and a generous scattering of micro cilantro, all atop a crispy tortilla. LOVED IT!!!

It just doesn’t stop. Next a plate of grilled oysters paired with foie gras and uni ($20, which works out to $5 per oyster….not bad considering the foie gras).

TEMPURA SHRIMP was served two ways: one topped with wasabi aioli, and the other with a red-hot sauce called Kochjang – hotter than the wasabi…much hotter.

TAKOYAKI BALLS are, I’m told, a street food that’s popular in Osaka, Japan – little lollipops of deep fried dough laced with abalone; three each for Joanne and me. The PEKING DUCK BAO BUNS were as good as expected, as was the WAGYU BEEF CARPACCIO topped with a hot spicy oil (even though the heat diminished the Wagyu). We ate the whole thing anyway…such pigs!

Had we not “gorped” on all of the Pan-Asian dishes, we would have also ordered the TRIO OF MINI BURGERS, which we saw at the next table, accompanied by fries and salad. By that point, though, we were ready to throw in the towel.

Well, almost ready: We still had to try the CHOCOLATE/PEANUT BOMB.

WRETCHED EXCESS! LOVE IT !!!!

Now on to some surprising news…….

I just now learned that MORIMOTO HAS CLOSED. I’m told that early on the morning of December 20th, 2016, MARRIOTT lost control of THE EDITION. The new owners came in during the night, changed the locks, took down the sign, closed up the restaurant and put up a new sign announcing a new hotel called THE MODERN would open soon. A new restaurant would be included in the makeover.


I have absolutely no idea of what happened.

But do not grieve, there IS joy in Mudville tonight. Morimoto locations remain around the continental United States (the most recent opening I think was in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand). Moreover, Masaharu Morimoto has announced that he will be opening two new restaurants in the fall of 2017 in the newly redeveloped Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki, which will be renamed Alohilani Resort at Waikiki Beach following a $115 million renovation. One will be called Morimoto Asia and will be the hotel’s signature eatery, and the other will be Momosan Waikiki, which will serve yakitori, ramen and small plates in a more casual setting. Both are expected to open in the fall of 2017. If they’re anywhere near as good as Morimoto in Honolulu, you better stay tuned.

WTF

PHIL

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