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Morimoto's in Manhattan


borris
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Chatted with Morimoto  GM yesterday, Fand F monday, open by the end of the month which is next tuesday.

private party tonight - Gourmet Magazine's 65th birthday party..

Meat Packing - near or across the street, from Del Posto..

Edited by juuceman (log)
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I feel this is going to be the new impossible place to get into.. I see the Nobu crowd flocking to this place and totally scening it up. I hope Morimoto's keeps the same friendly attitude and service that exists in Philly..

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If you check Gothamist they posted some pictures of the interior. I can't tell if it's classy or gaudy.

I don't know much about the Philly restaurant, but is it good because it's an oasis in a desert, or does it really compare with top NYC Japanese restaurants?

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If you check Gothamist they posted some pictures of the interior. I can't tell if it's classy or gaudy.

I don't know much about the Philly restaurant, but is it good because it's an oasis in a desert, or does it really compare with top NYC Japanese restaurants?

You haven't checked out the PA forum much have you? :rolleyes:

There's plenty of restaurants in Philly that can compare to the best New York has to offer, Japanese and otherwise. And there's some we have here that are unique and unlike anything NYC has to offer.

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Morimoto's in Phila was great though it's been 2 years since we ate there. Although a good amount of of alcohol was involved that day. I look forward to trying the new site in Chelsea. Most assuredly, it will have a big city vibe. No diss at Philly. (Well, maybe my hatred of The Eagles)

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If you check Gothamist they posted some pictures of the interior. I can't tell if it's classy or gaudy.

I don't know much about the Philly restaurant, but is it good because it's an oasis in a desert, or does it really compare with top NYC Japanese restaurants?

You haven't checked out the PA forum much have you? :rolleyes:

There's plenty of restaurants in Philly that can compare to the best New York has to offer, Japanese and otherwise. And there's some we have here that are unique and unlike anything NYC has to offer.

Yeah sorry, shortly after posting I checked out the Philly forum. Seems like it's vying to be a trendier version of Sugiyama. I didn't mean Philly was a desert, but with such a low Japanese population compared to NYC I can't imagine a lot of authentic Japanese restaurants...

Edited by raji (log)
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raji, it's certainly true that Philly does not have lots of high-end Japanese restaurants. That said, I've known a few New Yorkers (even Yasuda fans) and world-travelers who were impressed with Morimoto. But I doubt anyone would call it an "authentic" Japanese restaurant.

The pictures linked above make the NY spot look a little unfinished, Steven Starr restaurants are all pretty slick, so I suspect it's a little more together from a design standpoint than those pics suggest.

I think I prefer the warmer feel of the smaller Philly location:

gallery_23992_1369_79792.jpg

But then, I'll wait to see the NYC version to say that for sure...

I suspect that there'll actually be some good food there, but it might be hard to find amid the buzz and beauty and hype.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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There's plenty of restaurants in Philly that can compare to the best New York has to offer, Japanese and otherwise.  And there's some we have here that are unique and unlike anything NYC has to offer.

Really? Are you referring to "The Palm", "Smith and Wollensky's" and "Pietro's" :raz:

I can't really think of any restaurants in Philadelphia "worth a trip" from New York, although I do enjoy a few places when I happen to be visiting. I really like "Le Bec-Fin" but it is far cheaper to eat at ADNY, Per Se, Daniel or Jeans-Georges when you factor in the travel.

I do think that Philadelphia has superior Hoagie bread (Sarcone's) and coffee (La Colombe), and make a point of stocking up on these items when I am in town.

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If we could bring this back the Morimoto NYC for a moment, what are people's expectations for the restaurant. Is this going to become just another over priced, shishi, 'be seen' place? I have made a reservation for the omakase table for next friday. The omakase starts at $200 (plus beverage). This puts it on the scale of per se, though slightly cheaper than Masa. Will the food match?

Edited by allister (log)
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I was wondering the same thing. Other than the association with Iron Chef Morimoto, what is Morimoto's unique selling proposition? What will it offer (and what does it offer in Philadelphia) that is special? Or is it just a well executed Nobu knockoff?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I was wondering the same thing. Other than the association with Iron Chef Morimoto, what is Morimoto's unique selling proposition? What will it offer (and what does it offer in Philadelphia) that is special? Or is it just a well executed Nobu knockoff?

Quoting Hamlet, "That is the question." New York already has several big-box Japanese restaurants (Ono, ENJB, Matsuri, Megu). Beyond this, there are the other premium Japanese dining establishments that are smaller, but very well regarded (Masa, Yasuda, Kuruma, Gari, and even Jewel Bako). I'm no expert on the Philly dining scene, but I doubt that Philly has so many restaurants of this type in such a concentrated area.

This post on Eater quotes a review of the Philly outposts of Morimoto and Buddakan, concluding that they will not make it in New York:

Morimoto- I wanted so hard to like, but every single time the food fell short- way short of my worst visits to Nobu. Morimoto-san does not cook there- the restaurant is too big for him to run the kitchen in a meaningful fashion- he walks around and greets his friends or tourists....

Buddakan is even worse- a derivative of China Grill with a few Japanese (tuna tartare, etc..) type dishes thrown in there.....

Starr could succeed with smoke and mirrors in a town like Philadelphia were most upscale diners have to travel to destination restaurants. I don’t feel he has a chance in NYC where substance (ie: food and service) tends to prevail.

The writer may be giving NYC too much credit—we have our own restaurants that succeed with smoke and mirrors—but the genre into which Morimoto and Buddakan are trying to fit may now be over-saturated.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I think that the presumption that the restaurant Morimoto in Philadelphia was a concept in search of a high-profile chef is not entirely accurate. There are reports of Steven Starr insisting that certain dishes had to be on that menu, but from reading several articles, I got the sense that the restaurant and the menu is largely what Masaharu Morimoto wanted, not a theme park to which he attached his name.

And I'm sure the same is true for NY, there will be some design and marketing aspects that Starr will have insisted on, but the food will be primarily Morimoto's, and (not that this would be an inherently bad thing) he's not a Philly guy trying to make it in NY, he's a chef who's done serious work in Tokyo and NY.

The idea quoted from Eater that the (philly) restaurant is too large for him to cook at in any meaningful way is odd, it's not that large a space, and do we really have the expectation that celebrity chefs are making all of our food? He's generally been around in Philly, and in the kitchen. Sure, he does a bit of meet and greet out in the dining room, but that's not unusual for famous chefs.

The NY restaurant looks much bigger, and with restaurants in two cities I suppose one could grouse that he can't possibly be all that hands-on at either. That said, it's hardly a unique situation these days, and in the specific case of the NY location, you can bet he'll be there all the time for quite a while.

Stylistically, the food in the philly location is, as Steven suggests, largely a Nobu knock-off, but a well-executed one. (I have not eaten at Nobu, but I have compared the menus: Yellowtail tartare with caviar and yuzu, rock shrimp tempura, salad-ized sashimi, roasted black cod, a fancified donburi, etc.)

That said, I found the omakase to be quite tasty, if not innovative. I would expect that he'd push the boundaries a bit further for the NY scene. And a hot-rock rice-bowl dish: a fusion of Donburi, BiBimBap and sashimi that they called "Yellowtail BuriBap" was really great. Morimoto's a stickler about rice, and it shows...

It will be interesting to see if the food gets way more innovative, or if they rely on the formula that's been working. Both Morimoto and Buddakan could probably make money simply duplicating their Philly concepts. They might not win-over the dining cognoscenti, but there are plenty of folks in NY, natives and tourists alike, who would be susceptible to the charms of the theatrical settings and interesting-enough menu. It may not be new in NY, but it will be well-executed.

I certainly hope that both will not simply replicate themselves, and will indeed rise to the challenge of NY competition. We'll see...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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1.NY Vs Phila.

Have to agree with BUX, really pointless discussion.

No reason to compare, both cities should celebrate the strength's of thier respective dining scenes.

There is always a better city. Phila isnt trying to be and doesnt want to be NY.

There is just as much crap in NY as there is in philly, look at Express on Park south, food is garbage but its still wall to wall people.

2. Morimoto/Buddakan Culinary merits.

Stephen Starr isnt spending $20 million on two restaurants in the meat packing district because he is interested in James beard awards. Its about money, has nothing to do with philly food scene.

If ONO, Spice market and Matsuri are packed, Buddakan and morimoto *will* be packed despite what any of the purist say. That's why they sell specialty cocktails.

The demographic is very specific and I doubt it intersects with those who love Yasuda and Karumazushi. Most of the people who go to Morimoto Phila are out of towners, same thing will happen in Ny on weekends.

3. La Colombe coffee *ONLY* tastes really really good at the cafe on 19th and sansom.

I had it at Ducasse and it wasnt nearly as good.

There is excellent espresso in NY too, St Ambreous on 77th and Madison for example.

Edited by Vadouvan (log)
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Or is it just a well executed Nobu knockoff?
Buddakan is even worse- a derivative of China Grill with a few Japanese (tuna tartare, etc..) type dishes thrown in there.....

Is anyone sensing a theme here?

Vadouvan's point about the money is a good one. Steven Starr is a restaurateur. In a former life he was a rock concert promoter. He is not and never has been, a chef. He's about capital investments in large scale thematic restaurants. The concepts are ones that have worked before, and worked well (read: profitably) for others before him. That doesn't by definition make his restaurants bad, but it does mean that the focus might be different than what the average eGulleteer would seek in the competition for their dining dollars. Nonetheless, his restaurants are successful by his own standards. $$$$

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Um....

Next door Nobu and Nobu57 are well executed Nobu knock-offs. :smile:

Ultimately critics of these places are missing the point, its the same purist argument you heard when Megu, ONO and EN Brasserie opened.

It aint about the food, it's about $$$$$.

No it wont be on the top ten japanese restaurants in the city but it will be in the top 5 $$$ sales, that's why they coughed up $10 million.

Last summer when they saw a sea of people trooping in and out of spice market, they figured it out.

I assure you, more than the purists, the people least interested in these two places opening are Mssrs Vongerichten/Suarez/Chodorow.

Im not saying people are going to stop going to spice market or Ono but those cash cows are going on a diet next spring. just watch.

Why do you think Starr had the party and invited all the "neighbors" ?

It's called a "FU" party in the industry.....

as in "FU, we are going to split your customer base and tap into all this cash flowing around"

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A restauranteur into making money?!??! Scandalous!!

I'm not suggesting that Morimoto is going to be the best Japanese restaurant in NY, but if the places were all flash and hype and no substance, Starr could have bought a few more blinky lights and hired some schmuck to cook. Yes, he's a master of PR and buzz, but he also hires good people in the kitchens, or, as with Morimoto, partners with them.

No, Starr's places are not entirely about the food. Many fine restaurants are not only about the food. I suspect many of us here on eGullet prefer no-hype, chef-driven restaurants and wouldn't really mind if the dining room were an unrenovated garage, if it had comfy chairs. But a lot of folks, with a lot of cash, like a bit of glitz and flash, and actually enjoy those expensive silly specialty drinks.

But do you really think Morimoto is going to serve complete crap at a NY destination with his name on it? Michael Schulson is a good chef, did he give that talent away when he came to Buddakan in NY?

Vadouvan is right: the eG crowd and Asian food purists are not the target audiences for Morimoto and Buddakan. But I still maintain that there will probably be some good food to be had at both places. Maybe not everything... maybe nothing will surprise or thrill us eG sophisticates, but the restaurants are not just PF Changs with better lighting design.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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But that's the thing about all those places (I'm talking about ones in NYC, which are the ones I know) -- Megu and Matsuri (where I've eaten), Ono (where I haven't but know people who have). The food isn't terrible. They all have name executive chefs; that's part of the selling point. The food just isn't very fine. But that's because the food isn't the point. The food is just a lure. The food can't compete with -- or even survive -- the scene.

So should we applaud these places for not being terrible, or just ignore them (even you agree they're not aimed at us)? Seems like an easy call to me.

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Stephen Starr isnt spending $20 million on two restaurants in the meat packing district because he is interested in James beard awards. Its about money, has nothing to do with philly food scene.

One of the things that should be pointed out is that Starr does hire good talent, and with the resources generated by his specialty drinks alone, he can allow some very great chefs go on to even greater things.

It's no fluke that last year's James Beard Rising Star winner worked at Striped Bass. The best chefs in the country as well as the world would kill for a setup like the one these guys get.

I highly doubt that Chodorow puts such a premium on talent or product quality at his "Asia de China Grills". While maybe not the raison d'etre of these establishments, it's a pretty nice benefit, and one that should be weighed carefully.

Edited by lizard (log)
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