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Sunday, July 29, 2012

DEB, DAN, AND PAT AT MORIMOTO WAIKIKI

Unfortunately, Debbie at the last moment could not join us, but her husband, Dan Bent, and I went to Morimoto Waikiki for a feast.  They are my neighbors and take care of my plants and fish when I'm away.  Some day I'll say more about Deb, but Dan for a little more than a decade was the U.S. Attorney in Hawaii.  We were both on the Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge campus a little more than half a century ago.  He was in mechanical engineering and I was in chemical engineering.  He went on to Georgetown Law School.  He is now into dispute resolution and intellectual property.  Dan and I belong to the Gourmet Philosophers, a small group that eats and philosophizes

Well we had their chef's omakase (meaning  you accept what is served) special with two expensive bottles of sparkling water.  I also had a small decanter of sake.

The meal started with:

#1  Toro and hamachi tartare:


Those are minced raw yellowtail and fatty tuna, with various almost neutral condiments in the middle.  I'm only recently leaning in the direction of NOT overpowering raw fish with gobs of wasabi, for the purpose, I guess, is to savor the taste, not to drown out the fishy taste.

#2  Hot oil sashimi of Kona Kampachi:


The fish could have been better seared by the hot oil, and the taste was too bland.  On the other hand, maybe that was the point.

#3  Bagna Cauda, a Piedmont (Italy) fondue:


The "fondue" is a dipping sauce of garlic, anchovy and olive oil.  This also could have been much hotter, but I rather enjoyed this dish.

#4  Foie gras chawanmushi:


This was my highlight of the night.  What is under the foie gras (literally, liver from a fattened goose, now illegal in California) is a custard.  Surely, there must be a way to fatten liver without being cruel to the bird, which is all so ironic because you will inhumanly eat it anyway.  Next:

#5  Intermezzo of konbu cha, or sea kelp tea:


Dan liked it, but I found the taste to be like salty tea with a seaweed flavor.  It was a nice break.  Next came:

#6 A selection of nigiri sushi:


That huge chunk of wasabi you see shows that I haven't yet totally converted.

#7  The grand entree finale featured a pan roasted lobster (I had a teriyaki cod), wagyu (expensive Japanese beef from Australia) and ginger pork:


Each course can, if desired, be embellished with gourmet terms, as, for example, that lobster came with a garam masala spice mix (a blend from India), the meat with Maui onion jus (by-product juice from the preparation), and the pork with a peanut sauce, pear marmalade and macadamia nuts.  But this is as far as I will go tonight.  The above actually shows some asparagus, but that is because I forgot to take a photo of this dish and borrowed the above from a Morimoto review.

#8  The dessert was supposed to be kabocha soufflĂ© and Okinawan sweet potato ice cream, but we asked our server to pack it for us to take home to Debbie:


They served us the ice cream anyway.  Dan also missed taking a shot of the main entree, but we remembered to get this final photo.

The restaurant was quite filled.  I wondered how these ordinary looking people could afford the price, for the bill was substantive.  They were probably mostly tourists out on a binge.  But, of course, it was worth the food, service and company.  Such splurges don't occur that often and these extravagances make life worthwhile.  After all, the end is relatively near.

We did discuss religion and the afterlife, and my sense is that Dan and I share similar beliefs on faith and food.  He did though mention something about some great cuisine being served in some of the cheapest hole-in-the-walls (or perhaps more appropriate term) throughout Honolulu, especially Kalihi.  He will invite me to lunch to expand my epicurean experience.

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