We all know who Chef Morimoto is. Iron chef, restaurateur, actor (as seen in this little gem appearance on Hawaii Five-O this season. Yes, I watch Hawaii Five-O, it’s a good show!). So obviously I was super excited about eating at Morimoto in New York when I was in town. Except it turns out I was surprisingly disappointed by the meal. And after speaking with friends who have dined at the Philly and Napa locations, it looks like this is actually a common consensus. Morimoto just wasn’t up to par with the hype or the legend we all know the Iron Chef to be.
The restaurant boasts a very modern design – clean and sleek, with illuminating lights and glass all around. It is quite a spacious restaurant, and I’m guessing that’s why they decided to open in the Meatpacking District by the water – more space. I actually really liked the design of the place and I imagine my house to look like that someday. They also have really cool bathrooms, but I didn’t get a picture of that just incase it was creepy to do so.
For appetizers, we started with the Toro Tartare (osetra caviar, sour cream, wasabi, dashi-soy). It was by far the best dish of the night. I loved the presentation as the toro and the different dippings came on wooden slates that were chilled on ice. It was so unique that you had to scrape the toro off, then the dippings, and finally dip it in some soy sauce. I experimented with the different dippings and found that the best flavors came together when you combined everything into one bite. A little salty, a little sweet, a little spicy and a little crunch. Other combinations just didn’t quite compare. I really enjoyed this dish.
We also ordered the $75 Chef’s Selection Sashimi plate. All of the fish was fresh and had a good balance of fat content to it, especially the salmon. More notable of this sashimi plate was that it included Amber Jack, which you don’t get too often when in California (at least at the places I eat sashimi). Not a bad platter of sashimi, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. As my brother pointed out, he has had better in San Mateo, California and I tend to believe him since he eats sashimi a lot.
Finally for my main course, I ordered the Duck Duck Duck (foie gras croissant, roast duck, soft duck egg, red miso sauce). I love ordering duck at restaurants because it’s one of my favorite foods. Unfortunately, this was not prepared well and definitely not up to the expectations I had for a restaurant opened by the infamous Iron Chef Morimoto. First, the duck leg/thigh had way too much fat. As they cooked the duck, they didn’t reduce any of the fat out of it leaving chunks of it that were inedible for my preference.
In addition, one of the dipping sauces (the red miso sauce) tasted like Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce straight from the bottle, with a touch of miso just for flavor. It was not special at all since I can buy it at Ranch 99 Market for about $3. And then there was the foie gras croissant. I understand this portion of the dish is a play of Peking Duck, but it just didn’t do it for me. I know it’s supposed to be a fusion of different techniques, but I couldn’t grasp the inspiration behind the dish and it all just sat there confused on my plate like a lost puppy that didn’t know where he came from. It wasn’t Japanese, it wasn’t very French, and it certainly wasn’t Chinese. It just didn’t work. And on top of that, I couldn’t taste the foie gras in it at all!
The only little redeemable bright spot of the dish was the soft duck egg. It was perfectly runny in the center yolk but it wasn’t enough so save this dish from being a complete disappointment.
So overall, I was quite underwhelmed by what I experienced. I mean, the food wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t spectacular and I really really reaaalllyyyy wanted it to be spectacular. It was average…and an average meal that cost the two of us around $300 total (this includes a bottle of sake and my brother’s ribeye – which was average) makes me write reviews like this. So no, I will not be visiting a Morimoto restaurant again anytime soon. And no, I really wouldn’t recommend people coming to this restaurant and dropping that type of money as there are tons of other viable options around – especially in New York City, one of the Meccas of fine dining.