I’ve put off writing a review of our best meal of 2022. Firstly because I want to keep this location to ourselves. Secondly because the dinner was so many courses that it would take a long time to edit and upload the pictures.
But since we’re getting to the end of the year, I figured this was as good of a time to post this as any.
Here we go. Our best meal of 2022 and maybe of the past decade.
Morio’s Sushi Bistro
1150 S King St. #103 Honolulu, HI USA
We first dined here 10 years ago when I found the restaurant on Yelp. We had the cheapest omakase dinner ever.
Things have changed in the past 10 years (Note from Sharon: Your haircut hasn’t, LOLOL!). Morio moved his restaurant next door to a fancy building and there are no more Christmas lights on the wall. However, you’ll still have to call to make reservations months in advance. And while it’s called a sushi bistro, the sashimi and other dishes are the best we’ve ever had. After dining here 10 years later, here’s the closest you’ll get to a “how it started, how’s it going” photo you’ll get from me.
When I made the reservations this time, I was asked on the phone if we’d be dining off the menu or having the omakase menu. Of course, I said we’d both be having the chef’s selection. I didn’t even ask the price. Since it was so reasonable the last time we visited, I figured it wouldn’t be earth-shattering, and I was correct. After a tip, we spent $250 for the two of us.
Morio’s is a BYOB establishment and we brought a 6-pack of Heineken from the Lawson Station with us. They kindly supplied an ice bucket and bottle opener for our beers.
That’s the type of place Morio’s is. A juxtaposition of amazing food with an unpretentious atmosphere.
Our table for two was located across from the sushi bar. Since we ate there in February 2022, some COVID precautions were still in place and no one was sitting at the bar.
For starters, we were served some edamame.
Because I got lost and we were late for our seating, we were served the first two dishes in rapid succession to catch up with the rest of the diners. It wasn’t an inconvenience, we just didn’t have time to talk between courses.
The first course was teriyaki hamachi.
Next was savory egg custard.
Now that we had caught up to the rest of the diners, the dishes were a dance between Morio and the diners. As one dish was served, he moved onto the next. When he had extra time, he walked around the room and spoke to the guests.
The next course was a sashimi platter of L to R – hamachi, Scottish salmon, kurodai, subigai, and kazunoko.
Next out was oysters. Sharon tried them out of respect (Note from Sharon: I hate oysters. It’s 100% a texture thing) but let me finish her portion.
While some might be put off by anago tempura (eel), we were introduced to it by our local sushi place. It went well with the dipping sauce, which was more delicate than typical eel sauce.
We think the next dish was marinated raw shrimp. We learned while eating at Japanese ryokans that in instances like this, it’s best to eat what’s in front of you without thinking about it.
We survived to the next course. As Sharon described it, “crab and crab and crab over rice and masago.” This may have been our favorite course of the dinner.
From here on in, the dishes kept getting more complex. Flavors layered on each other and each course complemented the next. After the crab, we had a savory abalone sauteed in butter.
Then we were served marinated amberjack. The delicate fresh taste was a contrast to the butter of the previous course.
We were starting to get full but the meal wasn’t nearly done. Next, we had seared salmon with marinated seaweed. The salmon could have been served as sashimi but the sear gave it a different taste than what we had before.
Then came what could be called the premier dish of the night. Two pieces of pristine otoro. There’s nothing else to do with this cut of tuna than savor every bite of its fatty goodness.
Honestly, this may have been the first time we’ve had a taste of otoro so I’m not sure we really appreciated it.
Guests were given a chance to rest before the remaining dishes were served while Morio made the rounds. Since we mentioned to our server that we visited on a previous anniversary, Morio brought a bottle of sake to the table and poured us drinks and shared a toast to our marriage.
When we told him we visit every 10 years, he suggested we come back in 5 years next time because he’s getting older. We said we’d do our best.
Shortly thereafter a dish of sea urchin and salmon roe over rice appeared from the kitchen.
Still more. Next was a serving of blackthroat seaperch (seared) over rice
Finally, we were reaching the end of the meal, but not before some miso soup from shrimp shells arrived at the table.
For dessert, we were served custard with strawberries.
For our anniversary, Morio also brought us a mochi/tofu with brown sugar and strawberry reduction.
After dinner, Morio came back out to the table to talk. We thanked him for the amazing meal and the hospitality. He wished us the best in our future and he hoped that we’d be able to visit again.
I asked for a picture, to which he kindly agreed.
While I’m saying this is our best meal of the year, it might be our best meal of the decade. We’d been dreaming about going back to Morio’s and I made sure to stay on Oahu just so we’d have to chance to eat here again.
When we visited 10 years ago, Morio knew how to find the best fish and serve it to guests for a reasonable price. Over the past decade, he’s learned how to take those cuts of fish and turn them into culinary masterpieces. Sure, the price is more than it was when we first visited but the food is at another level. If you’d eat the food of this caliber at a famous omakase restaurant anywhere else, expect to pay several times more than we paid for this amazing meal.
And like last time, we left the remaining beer from our 6-pack for the staff to finish when the night was over.
*** Many thanks to Sharon for taking note of what every course was, and taking nearly all the photos, so I could concentrate on eating. (Note from Sharon: You’re welcome. I love you!)
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