Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dinner In Hawaii: President Obama Visits Morimoto Restaurant In Waikiki

Sushi restaurant is owned by Iron Chef star; First Lady, White House Executive Chef appeared on show in 2010...
UPDATE: The President makes a repeat visit in December of 2012
President Obama's family has been in Hawaii for a week, and a celebration was in order when the President at last landed on the island of Oahu on Friday evening to start his own vacation. Mr. Obama arrived in his rental compound in the town of Kailua at 6:45 PM, and less than half an hour later took his family across the island for dinner in Honolulu at Morimoto Waikiki, the eponymous operation from chef Masaharu Morimoto, the star of Food Network's culinary competition TV shows Iron Chef and Iron Chef America. First Lady Obama made a cameo appearance on Iron Chef America in 2010, when produce from her Kitchen Garden was featured as the "secret ingredient" for a culinary battle starring Executive Chef Cris Comerford(Above: The President greets well-wishers in Honolulu)

The Presidential dinner at the ultra chic restaurant included friends, and lasted close to three hours, meaning the President was perhaps nodding into his noodles by the end: It was after 3:00 AM Washington, DC time when the meal ended. Morimoto is located in The Modern hotel, and specializes in the chef's signature sushi dishes and Japanese/western fusion cuisine. On offer is the Morimoto Omakase, the "Chef's Choice" menu, which allows diners to "experience the essence of Morimoto's cuisine." At $120 per person, it features oh-toro, anago, unago, and maguro, among other items. (Above: Morimoto at work at the sushi bar in June)

There's also
a vast selection from the raw bar, sold at market price, and a la carte items, including noodles and soup; download the menu.

T
he President and his party departed at 10:09 PM local time. Pool reported that it didn’t get to see President Obama enter the restaurant because “our bus broke down several times on the way and we lost the motorcade.” The President last had dinner in Honolulu on November 12, when he hosted a dinner for the APEC Leaders at the Hale Koa hotel.

Iron Chef at the White House: Stunt Vegetables
Mrs. Obama filmed her cameo for Iron Chef America: Superchef Battle when the TV show visited the White House in the Fall of 2009 (the episode first aired in January of 2010).
Comerford teamed with chef Bobby Flay to beat chefs Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse in the cooking competition.  The foursome were filmed harvesting vegetables from Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden, which were then used in the show. (Above: Mrs. Obama with the chefs, from l Flay, Comerford, show host Alton Brown, Batali, and Lagasse)

Except
the cooking battle in the Kitchen Stadium in the show's New York studio was filmed a week after the harvest, and "stunt" vegetables--fresher slections--were swapped for the White House vegetables.  It caused a media scandal, because this swap was not mentioned onscreen during the TV show, where host Alton Brown--and everyone else--kept referring to the vegetables as having originated in Mrs. Obama's garden. The White House ultimately blamed Food Network for misleading audiences. A recap of the entire drama is here.

The motorcade returned to the Obama's rental compound after dinner at 10:54 PM. On arrival in Hawaii, Air Force One touched down at Hickham AFB in Honolulu at 5:52 pm after a flight of 8 hours and 52 minutes. President Obama was greeted on the tarmac by Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, Admiral Robert Willard, Mrs. Donna Willard, and Col. Sam C. Barrett, Wing Commander.

The President walked to a group of people behind some barriers, including several young children. He shook hands and wished all a "Merry Christmas."

Information: Morimoto is at 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96815. Phone: 808-943-5900.

Top photo by AP/Pool; Morimoto photo by Jason Genagabus/Honolulu Star-Advertiser; Iron Chef photo from Food Network