HOME > Chowhound > Hawaii >

Discussion

Morimoto or Le Mer?

  • 18
  • Share

To give some background, my favorite Honolulu spots are Alan Wong and Mavro, with a slight nod to Alan Wong due to very happy personal history there. We are only in Honolulu for two nights, to recover from our jet lag before heading out to other islands. We're both extremely enthusiastic about seafood and looking for a stylish environment for a quiet night out.

I'm reasonably focused on these two choices. I have been to Morimoto in New York and enjoyed it a great deal, although the omikase menu was probably a bit more food than I'm likely to indulge in on this trip. I've never been to Le Mer, although I've always heard good things. I'd love some hound opinions, especially on Morimoto's which doesn't have much written up here yet.

-----
Alan Wong's Restaurant
1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. La Mer's setting is unbeatable, but we had a bad experience there. Hunt likes it a lot. If you are willing to spend hundreds of dollars pp, I think you probably would have a good time.

    Have not been to Morimoto, but an anonymous food critic thought it good, not great. That's what I know in toto.

    -----
    La Mer
    2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

    7 Replies
    1. re: Joebob

      We have had many great meals there - but one that did not sit well, and on our anniversary. It is not perfect.

      Now, I have done Morimoto's in Philadelphia, and it was very good to excellent for our party. Also dined at La Mer (after that anniversary debacle, we held off for about 3 trips), and it was also very good to excellent. Have not done Miriimoto's in Honolulu, so cannot directly comment.

      Last trip was AW's, Chef Mavro's, La Mer, and I have to admit that Chef Mavro won the "throwdown," though they left us wanting on the trip before. What ever was wrong on that previous trip - they corrected very, very well. Even my wife, who grades as hard as I do, said the same thing. It was Mavro's, and AW & La Mer tied for second. Trip before, AW was the hands-down winner, with Chef Mavro's coming in about fourth - no La Mer that trip.

      To SouthernGent, I know that the above does not help you. Wish that I had done Morimoto's and La Mer on that last trip, as I could tell you how the two fared, head-to-head. Unfortunately, I cannot.

      I also do not know about Morimoto's Honolulu, and how it compares with Philadelphia, but that venue was very cool, but slightly downscale from La Mer. Just a guess, but I'd say that a table overlooking House Without a Key (La Mer), could be fantastic - if you have our last visit's fortune, and not the one before. Though many go for the "oceanside tables" at La Mer, for us, overlooking the Hawaiian show at the pool area, is much more romantic. I've done both, and on special occasions. There is not contest for us. The music is soothing, and top-notch, and the view of that area is wonderful.

      Impossible call for me to make, as I have not done that Morimoto's. I just threw out some impressions, in hopes that something helps you.

      Most of all, enjoy, and aloha,

      Hunt

      -----
      Chef Mavro restaurant
      1969 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826

      La Mer
      2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Sounds like you had the same table my wife and I had for our anniversary this past August. I also preferred our table over the ones looking out at the ocean. And the service, while formal, was still friendly and not stuffy. I actually thought it had a very ohana feel to it.

        Bill, I recall you mentioning dining at AW and talking about the bar service. I'll be there next month and have had meals there at the tables as has my dining companion. Would you recommend we do the bar this time around and if so do you simply make that request when you reserve?

        1. re: hopkid

          If you enjoy the behind the scenes aspect of how the kitchen works and like talking to the staff, the bar is a lot of fun. We always enjoy it there. You can request the bar when you make your reservation. It is usually easier to get than a regular table, actually.

          1. re: SouthernGent

            Thanks. I've sat at the tables a couple of times and on this trip there will only be two of us so it's the perfect opportunity to give the counter a try. I've already called and updated my reservation.

            1. re: hopkid

              Well, if you have done the table service, but not the Chef's Counter, then it would be a no-brainer for me - Chef's Counter.

              Hunt

            2. re: SouthernGent

              Well-stated. That captures the essence well.

              Mahalo,

              Hunt

            3. re: hopkid

              The tables are the more romantic,and less frenetic, and had we not done them many times, would probably be less enamored with the Chef's Counter. That can be a bit cramped, and not the most comfortable stools on Earth, but the view, and interaction with the kitchen makes it all worthwhile. We just did it again, and it seems that they have added another stool, as it seemed a bit more crowded this time - but still exciting.

              For an anniversary, I'd opt for the tables, or for a romantic evening, the tables. Unless, of course you are both major CH's, and will trade the quite romance for the view of a very active kitchen. [Grin]

              Enjoy,

              Hunt

        2. Michel's @ Colony Surf or Azure @ Royal Hawaiian are amazing locations on the Beach and the food is very good at both.

          -----
          Royal Hawaiian
          2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815

          4 Replies
          1. re: russkar

            Well, I've done Azure before and liked it, but probably not going to revisit this soon. Plus, we're staying at the Royal Hawaiian, so it will nice to wander off a bit. I'll look at Michel's -- it wasn't on my radar.

            -----
            Royal Hawaiian
            2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815

            1. re: russkar

              We had a less than stellar dinner at Michel's, but others tell me that it was just a bad night. That it was, and in too many respects. Still, we hope to try them again, but our time seems to be so very limited, and there are too many restaurants, that we love, and that seldom let us down, that I cannot figure out when.

              As I said, many here, and respected participants on this board, tell me that I need to go back, so I will.

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                I have had two fabulous experiences at Michel's in the past year and a half. Haven't gotten to Azure yet, due to price (I'm local), but went to Stage when it was newly opened by Jon Matsubara, the Azure chef, and LOVED it. Haven't been back since then, but am highly awaiting the oppurtunity to try Azure, as friends who have been LOVED it.

                1. re: puiwa

                  Sounds like we need to give Michel's another try. Many on the board, Mainlanders and locals, tell me that I just hit 'em on a very bad night, and that might be the case.

                  Have not gotten Azure on the "short list" yet, but given a bit of free time, we hope to.

                  Thanks for the report,

                  Hunt

            2. So I've cast my net pretty wide and not found many folks who have tried Morimotos, so I may end up taking one for the team and reporting back on my impressions. There is widespread agreement that it is a fantastic setting, general agreement that the food is very good to excellent (with some dissent) and a number of voices who say the service can be uneven. The concierge at the hotel agrees that the service gets poor marks from time to time. My problem with Le Mer in general is that the whole formal service French approach doesn't feel very laid-back and Hawaii to me. On our way back through Oahu on the way home, we are doing the Alan Wong bar service thing and I'm hopeful that we will find that as delightful as ever. I've been plowing through the threads for the other islands where we will have more time, so I'll likely have a few more questions before we head out.

              Mahalo to all for the feedback!

              -----
              Alan Wong's Restaurant
              1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

              4 Replies
              1. re: SouthernGent

                Please report on Morimoto's. We worked hard, trying to fit them in, but time was just too danged short on our abbreviated trip - originally 14 days on O`ahu, and pared down to 7, spit between North Shore and Waikiki.

                La Mer is a bit of a paradox in Hawai`i, but a good one. It is relaxed, but is probably the most formal (in several areas) spot in the Islands. With one glaring exception, we have always enjoyed ourselves, and it's nice to actually put the blazer to good use.

                Still, without being able to directly compare, I cannot offer much. Will be looking forward to the review. I doubt that it will be anything but great.

                Aloha,

                Hunt

                -----
                La Mer
                2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Tried Nobu? I haven't been to Morimoto, but have been twice to Nobu. Prices are astronomical though. Table of 4, one cocktail each person, no wine, $400 before tip. The food was excellent, but the desserts are too manini (tiny) for the price.

                  1. re: puiwa

                    I've done Nobu in NY, LA and Vegas, so it wasn't on my short list. I actually ate at Morimoto two nights ago and am working on the review as I sit on my lanai on the Big Island this morning.

                    EDIT: here it is http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7615...

                    1. re: puiwa

                      I've done Nobu in Las Vegas,but not the O`ahu iteration. Food and service were good. Though we seldom flinch at prices, I am not sure that it was the ultimate "value." There is a difference. I've had meals that topped out at $25 for two, and some that hit $2000, and have to say that a few of the lower-end ones were a worse "value." OTOH, those at the top cannot be done THAT often. [Grin]

                      We actually had a local restaurant, but another Nobu, Sea-Saw, that was just as good, if not better, and at 2/3 the price of THE Nobu. Unfortunately, the chef has left for greener pastures, than Phoenix.

                      Hunt