Friday, September 6, 2013


Morimoto is a cutting-edge restaurant serving contemporary Japanese cuisine in Philadelphia, PA. Chef Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame prepares traditional dishes with a modern flair.  From the restaurant's website: "Chef Morimoto, born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, learned the art of sushi and traditional kaiseki cuisine by training under several of his country’s esteemed master chefs. After being the chef-owner of a restaurant in Japan for five years, Chef Morimoto moved to New York City to explore western cooking styles. Fifteen years later, he has become well known for his unsurpassed culinary talent."

Keith and I drove up to Philadelphia for the weekend. After a detour in Lancaster, we arrived at our hotel just before 6pm. We took our time to freshen up and relax before heading out to dinner at Morimoto's. Ever since I first saw chef Morimoto compete on Iron Chef, I wanted to eat at one of his restaurants.  When we arrived, I admit I was taken aback by how futuristic-modern the design and decor of the interior was.  Neon lights underglowed the all white tables in a dim room with spherical shapes reminiscent of some scene from Minority Report.  Towards the back was an L-shaped counter around the open kitchen area.  I had a great view from my seat.

Knowing that I wanted to pretty much try everything, we opted to go for the omakase.   This multi-course tasting menu is designed to allow one to relax and leave the food choices up to the chef.  It is a great experience to try at places where you may only have one chance to eat at, and thus allows you to get an essence of the chef's cuisine. Before our food arrived, we ordered cocktails. I ordered the Arashi - which means "storm" and was their take on a dark & stormy.  Keith ordered the cilantro gimlet. I am not a fan a dark rum, so Keith and I swapped drinks. I absolutely loved the gimlet. It tasted similar to a mojito with lots cilantro. Later, Keith ordered the lemongrass gin, a subtle spin on a gin & tonic.

Our first tasting course arrived - a bowl filled with Yellowtail Tartare mixed with dried shallots and topped with caviar, all sitting in a dark soy sauce.  The yellowtail was finely minced and very smooth.  The dried shallots gave a contrasting crunch that complimented the delicate fish nicely.  The whole dish was full of flavor and ended up being my favorite dish of the night.  Next, we ate Carpaccio Whitefish -
thinly sliced with yuzu soy, hot oil that slightly cooks the fish, and mitsuba leaf.  The yuzu soy gave a bright note to the fish and juxtaposition of cold and hot temperatures of the fish was intriguing.  I found the oil slightly overpowering, but this dish was one of Keith's favorite of the night.  The third dish was a simple salad with Spanish mackerel, dried bonito, and seared toro tuna.  The Spanish mackerel was so buttery and practically melted in my mouth.  The dried bonito was super strong and the toro would have been better left raw.  After this course, we were served a shot of citrus and soda to cleanse the palate.  

Soon after our first hot course arrived.  A lovely Seared Scallop with gnocchi, beets, and pine nuts was quickly gobbled up.  Our server even noticed how quickly we ate this course.  It clearly deserves hearts below.  Taking into consideration the fact that I do not eat red meat, the next course was Pork Kakuni - pieces of pork loin with pickled mushrooms and peaches.  The pork was simply prepared with salt and pepper, but was still a bit too pink for my liking.  As is traditional with omakase meals, we ended with a sushi sampling of toro (tuna), whitefish, ika (squid), hamachi (yellowtail), and aji (mackerel).  Lastly, we enjoyed a dessert of the chef's Mousse Cake with black sesame "salt" and apricot preserves.  The mousse cake was delicate and had an interesting savory flavor.  I really enjoyed this dessert and it was the perfect close to our culinary journey of Chef Morimoto's cuisine.

Total Rating: 4.23
Food: 4.5, Price: 3, Service: 5, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Yellowtail Tartare
with caviar and dried shallots

Carpaccio Whitefish
thinly sliced with yuzu soy, hot oil, and mitsuba leaf

Spanish mackerel, dried bonito, and seared toro tuna

Seared Scallop
with gnocchi, beets, pine nuts

Pork Kakuni
pork loin with pickled mushrooms and peaches


Mousse Cake
with black sesame, apricot

Morimoto on Urbanspoon

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