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Morimoto's in Manhattan


borris
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Katz's deli is often clotted with tourists, sitting under the arrow and reenacting Meg Ryan's fake orgasm, but that doesn't make their pastrami taste any worse.

Morimoto (the restaurant) is meant to be a big, spashy, flashy, exciting place, that will indeed thrill the out of towners with it's dramatic decor and throbbing techno music. But that doesn't mean that Morimoto (the chef) won't serve up good food.

I'd just like to read something from someone whose opinion we trust here on eGullet, who has actually gone there. How many pages are we up to in this thread without a single first-hand report?

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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had the omakase in the special 8 person seating area. The omakase starts at $200. You can go up by $50 dollar increments. We were not told whether there was a ceiling, nor were we told how the experience would change in detail based upon how much money was spent. We were only that fugu (blowfish) and 'black' truffle were available.

As you may have seen from pictures, the special omakase table is 'L' shaped. Four diners sit facing morimoto and his sous chef that prepare the meal, the other four seats face an open kitchen and sushi bar.

We purchased our meal at the 250 price point and i was not impressed. There was not one standout dish. The memorable dishes were memorable only because they were bad. An example of this was lobster and crab risotto with black truffles. This dish did not have the consistency of risotto, rather it seemed much like rice and seafood broth. The soup was very thin. It was served with 2 slices of black truffle. As a whole, the dish did not mesh well together. I felt that there was little difference between this dish and the chinese comfort dish rice and hot water.

Service was ok, but i felt that in some ways it was lacking as well. We were never asked if we wanted coffee. We were never told when the savory portion of the evening ended, and when the dessert portion began, though this became obvious when our chopsticks were taken away. We were not given the correct instuments to eat certain dishes. What i really didn't like though was the constant 'iron chef' marketing approach. I feel like the entire evening the staff was making continuous 'iron chef' remarks, even identifing the two sous chef that appear on 'iron chef' with morimoto.

Needless to say, i will not be back.

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[...]That said, of course, I agree we should all get down there and see for ourselves.

Are you buying? :laugh:

But seriously, at those prices, any negative reports would carry a lot of weight with me.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Allister, thanks for that review, and I'm sorry to hear that nothing was very pleasing to you. And wow, omakase really starts at $200?!?

Having tried the omakase at his place in Philly, for $80, and having thought several parts of it were outstanding, and all of it at least good (except maybe dessert, which was a bit dull) both the price and the quality that you report are surprising to me. Nonetheless, again, thanks for the report.

Is there a less-expensive omakase offered at the tables, with the 8-seat inner-sanctum reserved for the higher-end?

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Having tried the omakase at his place in Philly, for $80, and having thought several parts of it were outstanding, and all of it at least good (except maybe dessert, which was a bit dull) both the price and the quality that you report are surprising to me. Nonetheless, again, thanks for the report.

ditto - except i've had the $120 omakase (twice) in philly. ditto also on the desserts both visits... not bad - but "dull" - any reports on the sweets in the nyc venue?

u.e.

[edited to enable formatting]

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Where did the bleu cheese sauce come from? 

Morimoto South in philly has a rock Shrimp Tempura with Roquerfort cheese, I am assuming its the same dish.

The average middle America tourists who stream into NYC 24/7?

Ding Ding Ding Ding......correct answer.

So I am curious why supposedly food knowledgeable people go out and order a dish that is the only food combination that has never been pulled off by any chef on the planet.

Bleu Cheese/Shellfish.

Ewwwww! :shock:

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Sneakeater, you asked earlier about how your friend could get a table. This morning my girlfriend called up for a table for this Saturday and they put her on a twenty-five name call back wait list for a reservation. I called myself just now and they offered me a late table Saturday night or a more reasonable one for next Monday and I opted for the latter. I've eaten a number of times at the Philly restaurant and they recognized that "I'd eaten there before," I assume they meant Philly since I canceled my table for last night so it seems that repeat customers even this early on are getting the priority.

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This might be off-topic for this thread, but I actually ate at Morimoto's two weekends ago. Three of us went the table Omakase route (which really ought to be termed a tasting menu given that it appeared to be fixed for all tables on a given night). One went with an a la carte selection.

We all found the food and experience to be excellent. Highlights included the toro tartare that oddly Andrea Strong didn't get along so well with and the steamed chicken, which was served with a strong and divine sesame sauce. Some absolutely delicious wagyu beef was served as part of the tasting menu, but I can't recall the exact preparation at this point.

The tasting menu was a lot of food. One course included a buttery/creamy lobster tail and claw which I felt was too large and rich for the rest of the menu, as well as a bit pedestrian (though well prepared).

Unfortunately I waited a bit too long to post this - as such, I can't remember much about the meal (the great wine and cocktails also have something to do with that). I wanted to at least put a positive word out there as we truly enjoyed our experience.

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The tasting menu was a lot of food.  One course included a buttery/creamy lobster tail and claw which I felt was too large and rich for the rest of the menu, as well as a bit pedestrian (though well prepared).

While I can't confirm without seeing the actual dish - this sounds identical to something I had at his Philly restaurant over a year ago on his "omakase" tasting menu (which, in my 2 experiences at the Philly location, is the accurate term to describe the format).

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I arrived for my 10pm reservation tonight around 945pm. It was somewhat busy but not so much as it appeared the same time last Monday. The hostess suggested we have a cocktail downstairs in the lounge and we did. All the cocktails in part are made with teas, sake, and japanese liquers and were an improvement over those we had last week at Morimoto in Philadelphia. The lounge seats about twenty people in alcoves and behind screens and was quite intimate. The service was excellent. The menu downstairs has a limited number of dishes plus the entire raw bar menu. When our table was ready we went upstairs and our waitress followed with our drinks which she would transfer to our checks. All was well.

Then we were seated in a busy but not full restaurant.

In the Urbandaddy interview, Morimoto mentioned there is not a bad table in the house. Let me tell you where he may have overlooked. When you walk in, and you're at the hostess stand, turn to the left. Apart from the main dining room there is an alcove with a few tables. We were seated at a corner table at the back of the alcove surrounded by walls closing in on us. There was no view of anything but the empty table beside us in the corner and we couldn't be more detached from the vibe or mood Morimoto is meant to evoke than if they seated us at a table in Del Posto.

Nothing against the wait staff. When our waiter brought our menus I said to him, I hate to bother but is it possible to seat us anywhere else? I think he understood and he came back a few minutes later and said there were none then but may be one opening soon. We waited but in all honesty when you've been drooling over a menu for weeks and craving a certain experience, and ready to drop hundreds of dollars and then you're in a dim concrete alcove, the mood has passed. So we finished our drinks and asked the waiter for our check. I said there were no problems, we just wanted our check and thank you. Then the manager came. And he seemed to feel horrible for us and told us there would be a table soon and then he comped our drinks. And we said thank you and we went to get our coats. And then the manager stopped us again and said we could go down to the lounge and they'd buy us drinks until a new table was ready but we just wanted to go and it wasn't his fault either. He gave us his card and told us we'd get a better table next time and we left.

I think it would have been a perfect night if they seated us anywhere at all in the main dining room or at least in view of it or if we never left the lounge. But when you make a reservation weeks out and when you go to an establishment of a certain quality, well, they should either reserve this space for walk-ins or convert it to a coat check. I still love Morimoto in Philadelphia, it was as good as ever last week and if anyone's ever been there they know there really isn't a bad table in that room.

I still look forward to eating at Morimoto here but as I told the manager, tonight was just not meant to be that night.

Dinner at Pastis was awesome though.

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Just a quick moderator's note: I've moved a number of posts from this thread that focused mainly on Andrea Strong and touched on Morimoto only in a vaguely tangential way. These posts now reside in the Bruni and Beyond: NYC Reviewing (2006) thread, which is our thread for "reviewing the reviewer" and other NYC-related review metadiscussion. Let's keep this thread for discussion of Morimoto. Thanks! :smile:

--

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Adamru,

I fully back your move.. Cut your losses and move on.. I might have taken the manager up on the free drinks, but you didnt want to.. These meals are too expensive and often too much of a process just to get a reservation, for everything not to be to your liking..

Many people just allow themselves to be mistreated and quietly suffer.. When people act with there wallets and show there disappointment, it helps all the patrons after you..

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Yeah, Adam, I totally understand your decision to just call it a night, if you're going to drop the kind of money that you end up spending at Morimoto, you shouldn't be exiled to a cement gulag while you're doing it. I'm glad to hear that the staff was at least somewhat sympathetic and tried to smooth it out, but again, I can't blame you for not wanting to wait around. I look forward to your eventual report...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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They didn't seat anyone in the depressing looking alcove on the Sunday that I visited- I agree that it looked very bad. Also, the night I went it was quite a bit colder up towards the front of the restaurant. We actually scooted our whole table backwards so that the folks towards the aisle could avoid the cold breeze that seemed to be blowing from there.

For the person who asked about service- it was very good. As I would expect at this price point, every person on the staff delivering dishes could describe the courses fully and answer questions appropriately, which is no small feat given the variety of food. Special accomodation for one person who wanted changes to some a la carte menu items was done without complaint. The hostess at the front seemed slightly snooty/stressed to me but I imagine working at a just-opened restaurant in NYC is tough.

On the omakase pricing - if you are seated in the dining room, you have the option of the table omakase, which is really a tasting menu, at $125ish. If you are seated at the small omakase bar, the price starts at $200. Reservations for the two are separate and the waitress indicated they had recent had quite a few nights with open seats available at the omakase bar. When I return in March I'll probably check it out. I'd just try calling ahead on the night you want to dine.

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I ate a morimoto's last night and was horribly disappointed. It was on the way home and my boyfriend was craving sushi so we thought we may as well give it a try. We walked in at about 7:30 an were seated right way without a reservation. We sat in the alcove that adamru describes above saying, "In the Urbandaddy interview, Morimoto mentioned there is not a bad table in the house. Let me tell you where he may have overlooked. When you walk in, and you're at the hostess stand, turn to the left. Apart from the main dining room there is an alcove with a few tables. We were seated at a corner table at the back of the alcove surrounded by walls closing in on us. There was no view of anything but the empty table beside us in the corner and we couldn't be more detached from the vibe or mood Morimoto is meant to evoke than if they seated us at a table in Del Posto." We didn't complain, but it wasn't ideal. It did feel a little isolated. And since I like to look at all the food as it passes the table it didn't leave much opportunity for that. It's possible that it could have been a great table for a couple who wanted privacy or a large party.

We started with a bottle of sake. I forget wich it was but it was the cheapest on the list at $61. Most were over $100. The other options were carafes of three grades of the morimoto house sake, cocktails and wine. The wine list was much larger than the sake list which I found suprising. I thought at least they'd be comparable.

My boyfriend ordered most of the food since I was in the bathroom and didn't have time to look at the menu. We had the lamb carpaccio, the foie gras chawan mushi and beef curry bread. I ordered the smoked salmon appetizer but the waiter misunderstood me and sent a piece of smoked salmon sushi instead. The lamb carpaccio was good, albeit small. It was about 5 pieces of lamb the size of a stick of gum. My boyfriend loved the foie gras mushi. It was served in a large bowl but the serving was only about 4 in in diameter and 1 and a half inches deep. It was topped with 3 quarter size slices of raw duck breast. The curry pan was good, but nothing special. My boyfriend said he would rather have the curry pan from Korodong (sp) bakery in K-town.

For sushi we had the eel and avocado roll, a california roll, two pieces of uni, two pieces or kuruma ebi, two pieces of blue snapper, one tobiko and the one smoked salmon. The rolls were fine, but the sushi was awful. They used powered wasabi and put way too much of it on the sushi. I love wasabi, but this was so strong and overpowering that you couldn't even taste the fish and your nose ran and your eyes watered. We tried to order ama ebi but they didn't have it that night so we got the kuruma ebi instead. I expected it to be raw, but it was cooked and no better that the shrimp sushi you'd get at teriyaki boy, and with all the wasabi they put on it it was probably worse than teriyaki boy, and it was $12 a piece!! $24 for two pieces of mediocre shrimp with too much powered wasabi!!

We also ordered a spiny lobster from the raw bar. They had maine lobster @ $22 and spiny lobster @ $65. Normally I'd just get the maine lobster since the spiny was so expensive, but my boyfriend wanted the spiny because he said it was in season and not often found on menus. When our $65 lobster came not only was it not raw but it was overcooked!! It was just the tail split into two with four sauces served on the side. We didn't get any special silverware to eat the lobster. All we had were our lucite chopsticks which meant we had to pick up a whole half a tail and take bites which was very difficult since it was so tough. If I ordered a lobster from the raw bar at a french restaurant I'd expect it to be cooked, but not a $65 spiny lobster at a japanese place. I even had raw lobster at sushi samba which is definetely an authentic japanese. I asked the waiter if the maine lobster was served raw, and he said no. He said "we eat it raw", but they don't think americans would like it raw. He was japanese and he said he used to work at ono where they would serve the lobster raw, but at morimoto they don't. Weird.

After a truely disappointing meal we decided to get dessert, maybe that would offer some satisfaction we thought. My boyfriend had a red miso souffle with a yuzu cream and I had a creme brulee with earl grey ice cream. The miso souffle was kind of salty, not my cup of tea, but the yuzu cream was great. The cream brulee was good, but nothing special. The earl grey ice cream was the highlight of the dish.

We started chatting with out neighbors at the next table who had the omakase, which it seemed many people were getting, and said that they were jealous of all the stuff that they saw coming to our table, and wished they would have ordered a la carte. They were restaurant owners from LI and their restaurant was designed by Karim Rasheed who also designed the Phila Morimoto. Many people kept coming over to say hello so I'm not sure if they ended up with any "extras" but they said that they were still hungry when they left and were contemplating a trip to white castle.

All in all our bill came to $300, not including tip. It was definitely not worth it. The pricing on the sushi was odd too. It was $8.50 for tobiko but $7 for uni. Usually tobiko is much cheaper than uni. And while one piece of kuruma ebi was $12, a softshell crab roll with the expensive tobiko was only $13.50. Maybe they are basing things on the phila market, where maybe people aren't as adventurous as NY, hence the cooked kuruma ebi and spiny lobster. But there was a table that came in and sat behind us that asked for sushi deluxe and and if it came with miso soup and salad. Of course, a place with as much press as Morimoto will get all kinds, but I've never known a chef willing to "dumb down" his cuisine to appeal to the masses. In any case I don't plan on going back unless I have to, or if someone else is paying for the special "chef's table" omakase. If any of you go I'd advise sticking to the appetizers. It's possible that the entrees are good, I didn't have any so I can't comment. As for the sushi, stay away or go for the rolls.

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Did they ever correctly bring you the smoked salmon appetizer? I really wanted to try that for the squid ink gnocchi that came with it. Fortunately I found it on the menu at 71 Clinton too.

no they didn't. although the appetizers were the best part of the meal, i decided to cut my losses.

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They've even got aged soy sauce—10 and 20 years old. I have never heard of that.

Does that mean that the rapidly aging bottle of Kikkoman in the back of my fridge is worth consuming? :raz:

Definitely.

I double dare you.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know we're all here only for the food, but I thought maybe some of you might be interested in what one reviewer said about the design.

Especially since most of you do not read The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Here's what their architecture critic, Inga Saffron, had to say about Morimoto NYC in last Friday's "Home & Design" section.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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