$15 happy hour: Morimoto Asia Waikiki

$5 plates in a chic space worthy of the Iron Chef
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What can you get for $15 at Morimoto Asia Waikiki's chic new happy hour? Not much, you might assume, but the swanky restaurant has come up with a serious deal.

The scene

Morimoto Asia is haute and hip. Customers range from those wandering in for pupus to people dressed to the nines for a night on the town. You can pretty much count the locals on one hand, but that might soon change. Since happy hour is 5 to 7 p.m. daily, there's time to brave Waikiki pau hana traffic.

Happy hour is in the bar and lounge area. You can sit at the counter and watch the cocktail action in front of you or relax in one of the plush arm chairs. Either way, you’ll feel posh as you peruse the food and drink selections.

What you can get 

The happy hour menu is small. But for $5 small plates and $5 drinks like frozen beer, cava bubbly and lychee spritz cocktails, I’m not complaining. All of them have the Iron Chef's stamp of approval, after all. Plus the happy hour dishes aren't on the regular dinner menu. 

You can get two small plates and a drink for $15 during happy hour.

The yakisoba is the unexpected highlight. For $5 it’s a steal, served hot in a petite skillet with a medley of carrots, pork belly, cabbage, kikurage and aonori. The noods are delectably chewy and you get a whiff of the wok in every bite. Heck, next time I’d get two of these plus a drink and be completely content.

The takoyaki stands out for its thick crust. I love all things battered and fried, so I don't mind the dough-to-tako ratio, but there's a lot of batter. 

Yakisoba, gyu tacos (thinly sliced beef, onions and cheese sauce) and cava bubbly for $15.

The gyu tacos are like cheeseburgers in taco form. The cheese sauce is reminiscent of what you'd find on your favorite nachos, with more flavor bomb from the shredded beef, but it's the combo of these with pickled onions that makes this memorable.

The rock shrimp was another one of my favorites, thanks to the slight heat from the wasabi aioli.

The rock shrimp is my favorite after the yakisoba because of the unexpected bite of wasabi in each tempura-fried morsel. The wagyu beef meatballs in the sliders are tasty and juicy, but with so much bread, the sliders overall are a tad dry. 

Plus tip 

Self-parking in Alohilani Resort's garage is validated for three hours. And don’t forget to end your visit with dessert: It’s not a happy hour special, but here’s my shameless plug for the indulgent, rum-flamed chocolate sphere ($18) that’s thrilling to both the eye and palate. 

Morimoto Asia Waikiki
Alohilani Resort
2490 Kalakaua Ave.

Happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. daily

Missed our first $15 happy hour post? Here's the deal at Dean & DeLuca at the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki