President Obama and First Lady Obama on Saturday night had a late dinner with family and friends at Morimoto Waikiki, the eponymous operation from chef Masaharu Morimoto, the star of Food Network's Iron Chef and Iron Chef America. The President is a fan: His last visit to the pricey Japanese/Western fusion eatery in the heart of the beachfront Waikiki strip was exactly a year ago on Christmas Eve, when he sped to have dinner just hours after arriving on Oahu. The President's own press pool was held far away on Saturday as he dined for more than two and a half hours, but the photo above of the President waving as he departed Morimoto was tweeted by a local reporter.
The President was clad in dark pants and a white short-sleeved shirt appropriate to the warm Hawaiian evening as he arrived at 8:43 PM by motorcade at The Modern hotel, home to the chic restaurant. The Presidential party was seated in a private dining room, and the restaurant was open to the public, with a heavy Secret Service presence and patrons required to pass through a magnetometer and be screened by hand-held wand.
"Eating at Morimoto Waikiki with President Obama. Had to go through a metal detector just to go inside!" wrote @Everyday_runway on Twitter.
Morimoto describes his menu as a "seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients," and it includes 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. 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.
President Obama worked up his appetite earlier on Saturday with a game of golf that lasted close to six hours at the Kaneohe Klipper course on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The Presidential fivesome included Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass.
News spread fast that the President was dining in Waikiki and he left the restaurant to cheers from a crowd that had built up outside. The President's press pool was held down the street at a nearby restaurant, and did not see the President either arriving or departing Morimoto at 11:03 PM.
Mrs. Obama and White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford both appeared on Iron Chef America: Super Chef Battle in 2010 to promote the Let's Move! campaign. Comerford competed in the Kitchen Stadium; the "secret ingredient" was ostensibly vegetables grown in Mrs. Obama's White House Kitchen Garden, but substitute vegetables were used during the actual filming of the culinary battle.
Above, an aerial photo of the President's motorcade going through Waikiki after dinner, taken by Josh Bulriss, and posted to Twitter on his @JoshBulriss account.
"President Barack Obama in departure from the Modern Hotel Waikiki, Hawaii tonight. Talk about an Entourage! Wow," Bulriss tweeted.
Morimoto Waikiki is located across Oahu from the President's vacation rental in the town of Kailua, and he was safely home at 11:33 PM. He has no public events scheduled through the weekend. Mrs. Obama has already revealed the First Family's Christmas Dinner menu; they will celebrate with a feast that ignores the Let's Move! campaign, she said.
The President and First Family arrived in Honolulu just after midnight on Saturday. The President has vowed to return to Washington after Christmas to continue work on swinging a deal with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Information: Morimoto is at 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96815. Phone: 808-943-5900.
*Top photo by Stephanie Silverstein, @sssilverstein, Pacific Business News; second photo by Josh Burliss