|A Twitter user's photo of the President in Morimoto; press was held outside|
Honolulu, HI - President Barack Obama spent the final night of his vacation dining at Morimoto Waikiki on Friday, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and a group of unidentified friends. The three-hour farewell dinner to his beloved childhood home was the President's first edible excursion of the New Year.
It was also the President's second visit of the vacation: He made Morimoto the first fine dining stop of his longest stay on Oahu since 2009, visiting on Dec. 22 with Mrs. Obama and friends.
The restaurant is located in the hip The Modern hotel, and Mr. Obama and his party arrived under heavy security at 7:42 PM after spending the day entirely at home at the vacation rental compound in Kailua, located about half an hour across the island.
Waikiki is always jammed with tourists, but "First Friday" fireworks courtesy of the Waikiki Hilton made it more so ahead of the President's arrival.
President Obama selected from the upscale menu created by Chef Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef and Iron Chef America fame, a "seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients" that stars fresh fish. There is a selection of noodles; an enormous raw bar; and the Morimoto Omakase, the "Chef's Choice" menu, $140 per person, featuring oh-toro, anago, unago, and maguro. Morimoto recently unveiled what he bills as "the world's tiniest sushi!," with each piece smaller than a dime. The dinner was the President's fifth at Morimoto.
Citizen sushi enthusiasts were allowed to dine at Morimoto as the President and his party enjoyed their dinner, but patrons were screened through metal detectors by Secret Service, and instructed to put away smartphones and cameras. The President's press pool was held in a van outside the hotel for the duration of his visit, and did not see the Eater in Chief either coming or going.
Twitter user Sam Chadick (@ChadickIsland) was dining at Morimoto when the President arrived, and posted the photo at top, writing "best pic I got! #nofilter."
|The President's motorcade and a cheering crowd outside Morimoto|
"Obama has hella back-up #prez," Chadick tweeted with the photo of the motorcade, above.
Mrs. Obama and White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford both appeared with Chef Morimoto on Food Network's Iron Chef America: Super Chef Battle in 2010 to promote the Let's Move! campaign. Comerford competed in the show's Kitchen Stadium, winning the day with dishes that paid homage to the First Lady's White House Kitchen Garden.
The President's other dining excursions since arriving for his vacation on Dec. 20 were also repeat outings at favorite restaurants. The President and Mrs. Obama dined at Nobu Waikiki on Dec. 27, and at Alan Wong's on Dec. 30th.
On New Year's Eve, the President ended 2013 with his annual afternoon visit to Island Snow for shave ice (cherry and lemon-lime for Mr. Obama), joined by the First Daughters and a group of a dozen members of his extended family and friends before ringing in 2014 privately at home. Bobby Titcomb, one of the President's oldest friends from his Honolulu school days, hosted a barbecue party for the First Family on Dec. 28.
Golf has taken up much of the President's time since he arrived on Dec. 20th; he's played eight games, including five games with Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy Sam Kass. On Thursday, the President played 18 holes with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and his teenage son before making a private hour-long visit to the closed Honolulu Zoo with his daughters. He also visited his grandfather's grave at Punchbowl National Cemetery.
The President celebrated Christmas privately with the First Family and friends, then made a late-afternoon visit to troops and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, located minutes from his home in Kailua. Most days he has worked out at the Base gym, too. There have been hiking excursions and private beach time with the First Family and friends.
President Obama is scheduled to depart Hawaii at about 9:00 PM local time on Saturday night from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and arrive back in Washington, DC in the early morning hours of Jan. 5th after a flight of more than eight hours aboard Air Force One.
He has had no public or official events during his vacation, the first since 2009 to not be interrupted by pressing political business, though he has been briefed daily by aides, and signed a budget deal and defense spending bill while on island. Aides also signed the President up for a bronze-level insurance plan under his signature Affordable Care Act, in an effort to get Americans to sign on after months of problems with the healthcare.gov website.
*CLICK HERE for links to all vacation posts.
Information: Morimoto Waikiki is at 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96815. Phone: 808-943-5900.
*Photos by Sam Chadick @ChadickIsland