Morimoto | www.morimotorestaurant.com
Address: 723 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Date visited: 2013.03
Verdict: It’s good if you can afford it but there are cheaper alternatives that are just as good
Will return: Definitely
The name says it all. Yes, this is Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s restaurant. The food is excellent but you are mainly dropping stacks on the Iron Chef hype. There are cheaper alternatives that are just as good. Worth it? If you wipe with Benjamins.
Masaharu Morimoto gained the title of Iron Chef on the original Japanese cooking show in 1999 while working as head chef at the famed Nobu flagship in New York. Morimoto left Nobu in 2000 and opened his first restaurant in Philadelphia, simply called Morimoto, with co-owner and restaurateur Stephen Starr in 2001. The Iron Chef has since opened restaurants in New York, Napa, LA, Baton Rouge, Honolulu, New Delhi, and Mumbai.
Toro Tartare ($26) topped with caviar
This portion must be for Tinker Bell because it is tiny. This should be shared between two people max; hog it all for yourself if you can. There are fried shallots in the mixture, which give a crispy texture to contrast the minced tuna. I would have preferred less sauce in the bowl because the tartare on the bottom was super saturated. Overall, this was a great tartare and I highly recommend getting it to start.
You are supposed to dab a bit of wasabi on the tip of your spoon with every bite of tartare. I was surprised and impressed that they used fresh wasabi. If you are used to your nostrils burning after eating wasabi, you have never had real, fresh wasabi. Fresh wasabi is ground from the wasabi root (expensive) and does not sting whereas fake wasabi is made from horseradish powder (cheap) and stings like a mofo. For this reason, you can eat a lot of fresh wasabi without feeling like you just snorted a line of wasabi.
You can tell how fresh the wasabi is by both the taste and texture. If it breaks up or melts easily into the sauce, you are eating fresh wasabi. Fake wasabi looks like play-doh and you have to mix it forever in your soy sauce before it breaks up. Oooh yeah, let the realization that you have been eating horse radish powder your whole life sink in.
A berry known as yangmei 杨梅 is suggested to cleanse the palate after the tartare. This berry is native to Asia, mainly China. Chinese people eat this on the regular so I am not sure about it being a palate cleanser than just an exotic fruit to put on the plate. I have never liked yangmei.
Roasted Foie Gras ($26) with crispy rice, cranberries, and sorrel.
Foie gras (“fat liver”) is liver that comes from a duck or goose that has been specially fattened for this very purpose. As with all delicious things in life, it isn’t without controversy because the duck or goose is force fed.
Foie gras is fatty (no brainer), rich, soft, smooth, and wobbly at the same time. This description won’t really help until you try it yourself. The texture, not taste, is very similar to uni (sea urchin) and just melts in your mouth. Some people love it, some people hate it. I love it. This dish has a generous portion of foie gras and I highly recommend it.
|Raw lobster (back left) and poached lobster (front center)|
Chef’s Sushi Combination ($40, $60, $85; $60 combination is shown below)
My face fell when I saw the cooked shrimp; that was the first sign. The sushi is just average. The rice was a bit hard and the flavor was off; the fish was bland. Keep in mind that Morimoto is primarily an Asian fusion restaurant, not a sushi specialty restaurant like Hatsuhana, Sushi Yasuda, and the likes. The sushi here is not for sushi snobs. I would stick with the non-sushi dishes.
Duck Duck Duck ($33) three ways with madras roasted duck breast, mango, and lotus in a mandarin oolong reduction, and duck confit fried rice with duck egg. I was really pleased the roasted duck portion but not so much the fried rice portion of this dish.
I have eaten duck prepared similarly in the past that were mostly unremarkable but this roasted duck was quite good. The duck was tender and the lotus and mango were surprisingly fitting.
|Chocolate Pot de Creme (top) and Matcha Tres Leches (bottom)|