Back in June I’d written about our dining experience at Morimoto and how much we’d enjoyed it . Well ,the Friday after Thanksgiving we relived our experience as we dined again at Morimoto. Nine of us , (uncles , aunts and cousins ) met there for dinner and it was a blast … even better than the first time .
We met at 6:30 in the downstairs bar at Morimoto and tried some of their signature cocktails. I was one of the designated drivers but had small sips to see what the drinks were like . The Morimoto Martini ( junmai sake , vodka and Japanese cucumber ) was only okay but the Tiger’s Eye ( Rye , ginger liquor, plum sake, bitters) was a winner . The White Lily( shochu, calpico and yuzu ) wasn’t bad either. The Mens Room with its unique sliding door and its designer facilities was close by the bar and I made a quick pit stop before we were summoned upstairs for dinner. We were seated in exactly the same seats as we were the first time around and we took in the by now familiar surroundings : the dividing walls fashioned with water-filled plastic bottles, the pleated, cream-colored fiberglass ceilings , the blonde wood tables and the white walls. The wide seats were comfortable and the tables grouped far enough apart that the dining room felt busy but not crowded. Morimoto seats almost 200 and even on the Friday after Thanksgiving all the tables were occupied.
The previous time we’d had the omakase or tasting menu . This time we had the luxe version of the tasting menu with the chef given a free hand to do as he liked with the dishes he served us . Our wait-person , Delilah, told us later that of the nine dishes we were served , she’d only seen two or three before; the others were created on the spur of the moment by the chef using whatever he deemed was freshest and best. Naturally , cooking such a meal would take longer than usual and we were warned it might be some time before the first dish arrived . No problem . In order to while away the time till then we ordered an appetizer that we’d fallen in love with on our previous visit.
Rock Shrimp tempura served two ways with kochujang ( spicy Korean hot sauce) and a light wasabi flavored sauce came with a side of house ranch dressing and it was marvelous as ever. I’ve had plenty of tempura before but nothing like these morsels which retained their crispness even though they were infused with sauce . They were outstanding and whetted our appetite for the omakase courses that were to follow.
The following were the dishes we had. A brief description of the dish is followed by my impressions ( in italics) and my rating ( 0 t0 5 stars , with 5 stars being excellent , 4 stars very good and 3 good). Since the dishes were created specially for us , they were not on the menu and I have to rely on the descriptions provided by the wait staff . I know I’ve got most of the ingredients right but I might have missed a few. Still there is enough, along with the photographs, to give you a feel for each dish.
1. Wafer thin slices of triggerfish ( kawahachi) ,topped with monkfish liver , sprinkled with edible flower petals, scallions and caviar and dressed with olive oil . ( Triggerfish is related to the Japanese blowfish or fugu , the one with the highly poisonous innards. The soft , yet firm , flesh was nicely contrasted by the texture of the petals and the crunchiness of the caviar. The delicate taste was set against the saltiness of the caviar and mysterious hints of something sweet . Complex , with layers of flavor , many of us felt it was the best dish that evening. *****)
2. Stone crab claw with kabocha dressing , micro celery and scallion oil. ( Before you ask , let me say I don’t know what Kabocha dressing is . All I know is that it was light and delicious . The stone crab claw was small and there was no more than a teaspoon of meat but it was a treat .***** )
3. Lobster chunks in a creamy lobster reduction with Japanese mushrooms , shiso leaf and scallion oil. ( Personally , I’m not a big fan of lobster and I thought that the sauce was too rich and creamy. But then what do I know ? The others in our party raved about it and declared it to be on a par with the first course. **** )
4. Nantucket Bay scallops with yuzu-brown butter sauce , shavings of assorted vegetables , miyuga , daikon shreds , olive oil. ( The tiny scallops were perfectly cooked but I thought that the sauce was less impressive than it sounded at first . ****)
5. The sushi course ; Red Snapper , Tuna , Yellowtail , Bonito ( or skipjack tuna) and Eel Maki. ( Excellent for its freshness and taste . The red snapper was the best but the others were not far behind. In addition to the usual accompaniments of soy sauce , wasabi and pickled ginger, the sushi arrives with a slice of lemon . The lemon may sound strange but it really works . *****)
6. A palate cleanser ;Fuji Apple sorbet in a lemon ginger decoction. Excellent.
7. The Main Course : Imperial Shabu-shabu. Perfectly cooked Wagyu beef with Sesame sauce , topped with mizutake mushroom foam and micro greens and served on a bed of braised leeks . ( Another excellent dish . However , it was served in a giant white bowl the rounded sides of which made it difficult to cut the beef. In spite of that, *****)
8. Okinawa Dark Sugar pot du crème with almond – passionfruit crème , sweet almond foam ,blackberry , and a baton of puff pastry sprinkled with sugar ( Delicious and refreshing. A complex composition that stopped just short of being too much . *****).
9. Flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate cream and apricot sauce. Served with a side of Pear and green tea sorbet served on a bed of chopped stewed quince. ( I had the sorbet and the quince but left the chocolate cake alone. I wish that they would know when to stop. If the meal had ended with the previous dessert , we’d all have left sated and satisfied. This last course was totally unnecessary . Only ***. ,after all, chocolate cake is chocolate cake ).
Because it was a special menu , the meal lasted almost three and a half hours . However , the ambience , the attentive wait staff , the company, and the excellence of the food so beguiled us that we felt it was not that long. The menu was fearfully expensive ( $200 per person , exclusive of drinks , tax and tip and appetizer) but it is an experience that we will all remember for years to come . As we sat talking , one of the topics discussed was : “What is your most memorable dining experience ? It was a difficult question to answer ( there have been so many memorable meals) but all of us were hard pressed to come up with an answer other than “Morimoto”.