Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman officially opens on Waikiki Beach (and it’s very, very good)

Honolulu’s Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort (which I reviewed earlier this year) has recently undergone a more than US$80 million renovation.

It’s seen the iconic resort (with its origins dating back to the 1950s) reimagined with updated rooms, facilities and the addition of the much lauded Monkeypod Kitchen restaurant – now the fourth location in the State from Chef Peter Merriman.

Following a soft launch last year, the restaurant finally enjoyed its official opening earlier this month, welcoming hundreds of guests to celebrate.

Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is a 1115 square-metre restaurant at the base of the Diamond Head Tower, perched on the golden sands of Waikīkī Beach, with panoramic ocean views. The menu celebrates high-quality local fare, with socially conscious ingredients and distinctive pairings of upmarket items with upcountry favourites. And daily live music to accompany it.

As Sara Hill, CEO of Handcrafted Restaurants explains, “From the architectural design of the space to the carefully curated ingredients on the menu – our team was intentional on creating a place that is both casual and festive while using locally sourced, renewable and sustainable products at every opportunity.”

Jeff Wagoner, president and CEO of Outrigger Hospitality Group, also had this to say following the opening, “Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is the perfect complement for this iconic beachfront retreat, honouring a meaningful sense of place and enabling our guests to connect deeply to the islands through craft food, drink and live music.”

Having enjoyed this restaurant in my recent visit, I can affirm what they’re saying about Monkeypod is true.

The seared Ahi Tuna (pictured below) was – without exaggeration – one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

It’s complete with a mix of flavours unlike anything I’ve ever experienced; my friend described it as a thanksgiving dinner, but with sashimi instead of turkey. Which I thought was quite apt. The perfectly seared tuna was paired with greens, jalapeno mashed potatoes and a gravy to make a mix of flavours that shouldn’t have worked but absolutely did.

Photo by the author.

Their pizzas are wonderful, too, and they do some great deals on them at lunchtime. Of course we had to try the lobster pizza, and it was delicious – especially with a little squeeze of lemon.

They make their own Ginger Beer and offer 30 beers on tap, and bake their own pies, with monthly specials. In my visit this past December, it was a Ginger Snaps White Chocolate. All this was enjoyed with some live music – on our evening it was courtesy of Kona Abergas.

You’ll enjoy local performers through the day and night at this restaurant, a common feature of the region, as well as something you’ll find at all of Monkeypod’s locations across Oahu and Maui.

Chef Peter Merriman’s Monkeypod is worth the trip to Honolulu alone. If you only had time to head into town for one meal, this is the one to try. Its “farm-to-table” approach is second to none, and prices are incredibly reasonable considering the quality – plus they have some amazing lunch deals, especially on their pizzas.

Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort welcomes guests daily from 7am to 11pm, with daily happy hour from 3:30 to 5pm.

Head to their official website for more details and to see the full menu. 

The author dined as a guest of the hotel. Photos provided by Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, unless otherwise mentioned. 

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.