Morimoto Offers a Very Laid Back Dining Experience, Delivering Wonderful Japanese Fusion Cuisine
Jun 7, 2009
Being a foodie and also attending Culinary School gives me an excuse to go to some really nice restaurants that normally, I wouldn't go to. However, I love food and I love food even more when it looks pretty and tastes spectacular! This means anniversary dinners at Craft or birthday dinners at Amada. So when my Fiance and I's best friend Kate wanted to go to Morimoto before she left to go to grad School in Chicago, we couldn't say no.
Originally we were going to go back in December for her Birthday, but with Christmas coming up and then a trip to San Diego, the money wasn't there to go to such a place. Morimoto was something we had been talking about for a long time so finally on Tuesday last week Kate said, "By the way, we are going to Morimoto on Friday!" and I said "OK!"
Now despite the fact that Morimoto is co-owned by Stephen Starr who is more businessman than restaurateur, Chef Masaharu Morimoto also owns the restaurant giving the menu and the atmosphere the finishing touch of a chef. Having said that, the restaurant does have Stephen Starr pricing so be prepared to spend around one hundred dollars a person. As far as Reservations go, my friend Kate made them. From what I understood though, it was pretty tight. We had a 6:45 reservation and if we couldn't have made that, the next reservation wasn't until 9:15 and this was booking on a Tuesday for a Friday. So it would probably be best to book a couple of weeks in advance.
It was really funny trying to get there because Morimoto is next to all of these other restaurants like Jones and Jose Garces new restaurant Chifa. However, Morimoto didn't have a visible sign above it that said the restaurants name. Instead, it looks like this white cave with a door as if the place was abandoned. As much as this gives the restaurant a little bit of mystery and character, I still think there needs to be some kind of sign next to it. So remember for when you go, to look for a white cave... The Inside of Morimoto was very cool and modern inside. It looked as if the restaurant was one giant wave and the lights by your booths would constantly be changing colors which I thought was very fun. The seats we sat in for being a restaurant were very comfortable which was very nice because you felt like you could take a long time relaxing while you enjoyed the food. Upstairs was a very small lounge were you could take some awesome pictures from.
As far as the service went, our waiter was amazing! He was very knowledgeable about the cuisine and all together just very friendly. He was very patient with us as we decided on what cocktails to start off with, helping us pick between the wonderful selections they had. When it came time to order wine, he was a huge help, turning us off from certain decisions and giving us a wonderful suggestion that turned out to be a very tasty wine. We ended up ordering a 2004 White Haven Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It was a very nice crisp white. Every time it touched your tongue, you got a sense of that crispness, then filling up your mouth with a really nice grassy taste with a little hint of fruit in there as well. There were some cheaper bottles, but for $53 dollars, this was really a perfect selection.
The food at Morimoto in one word was awesome! The menu is focused heavily on Sushi and Raw fish. The rest of the menu offers some warm appetizers and entrees. Among the options are two different tasting menus, one for Sushi and Sashimi that is priced from $30 dollars to $75 dollars and the other being the Morimoto Omakase which had an $80 dollar option and an $120 dollar option. The Omakase is a multi course tasting menu that is about 60% raw and then offers a couple of warm dishes, ending the dinner portion of the Omakase with a Sushi tray. We all decided to go with the $80 dollar option of the tasting menu after our waiter told us the only perk for ordering the $120 was getting some meat dishes that included Kobe beef. Seeing as Morimoto is a seafood restaurant, we decided we really didn't need to spend the extra $40 to get some beef. It all really depends on whether or not you want to spend the extra money and have that extra touch of variety.
The meal started with a Yellow tail Tar Tar that had this special soy sauce as well as crispy shallots to give the dish some crunch. This was a really nice way to start off the night as it was really light, yet gave you a hint of what was to come. The crispy shallots were really a nice touch. The next dish was a Whitefish Carpaccio that was layered in three different oils and topped with Japanese cilantro. Again, this was a light dish, but the oils that the fish were in really gave it some nice flavors and the Japanese cilantro really gave the dish a suddle unique touch. This was followed by a really nice Sashimi salad with micro greens in a sesame oil vinaigrette. I believe that the fish was red snapper. This dish was really good as well, but it wasn't my favorite due to the sesame oil. I think that sesame oil is something that should be used in very small quantities and while I felt it really overpowered the fish, it paired very well with the micro greens which I ended up enjoying more than the snapper.
Next came the warm part of the tasting and this is where Chef Morimotos signature fusion dishes came in. We were served a Soba noodle (Japanese noodle) Carbonara with fresh bay scallops and smokewood bacon, topped with some Parmesan cheese. This was a great mixture of Japanese and Italian and as it hit your mouth, it really tasted like you were eating both cuisines at the same time! The scallops were really fresh and the bacon gave the dish some really nice savory flavoring. This was followed by the foodgasm of the night, my favorite dish, the Black Cod Miso. On the plate was a perfectly cooked piece of Black Cod with a miso mustard paste and Japanese black beans. The fish and the miso were just so perfectly paired that when they hit your mouth, it was truly like Heaven and the fish just fell onto your fork when cutting into it; by far the best dish of the night. We ended the dinner with a five piece sushi tray that included Tuna, yellowtail, striped jack, fluke and red snapper. I actually really enjoyed ending the meal with sushi seeing as how sushi is my favorite food, but the sushi itself wasn't spectacular, it was, but I felt as if I could get sushi like that anywhere else. Dessert was all that was left and it was a Macha Mousse cake that really wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Overall though, this was a wonderful experience. Pictures of these dishes are below and in order.
Yellowtail Tar Tar with Crunchy Shallots
Whitefish Carpaccio with three oils and Japanese Cilantro
Sashimi Salad with Micro Greens
Soba Noodle Carbonara with Bay Scallops and Smokewood Bacon
Black Cod Miso with Japanese Black Beans
Sushi (Tuna, Fluke, Yellowtail, Red Snapper and Stripe Jack)
Macha Mousse Cake with Chocolate Sauce
Overall, this was such a wonderful dining experience! We were able to relax and take our time while we enjoyed our food which I think is key to having a fulfilling dining experience. The final bill came out to be around $356 dollars which is pricey, but still a good deal for a gourmet restaurant as that bill included three Omakases, three cocktails and a bottle of wine. The cod was the best dish of the night and I highly recommend it if you venture to Morimoto as this dish will give you a foodgasm. The service was delightful and the company was good. My only, and I mean only, issue at the end of all of this is that I wasn't that full after the meal. The Omakase is a bunch of smaller raw dishes that if you have a big appetite, you might not be satisfied at the end. Never the less, the food was godly. Morimoto gets a 4.5/5!
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About the reviewer
Julian Brown (Husher315)
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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Morimoto Restaurant is located in Philadelphia and was opened in October 2001. Along with Chef Morimoto, the restaurant is co-owned by Stephen Starr who owns many restaurants in Philadelphia, New York and Atlantic City.
Chef Morimotos expertise is in Japanese Fusion and Sushi.
Morimot is one of the Iron Chefs along with Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, Mario Batali and Michael Symon on Iron Chef America.