Morimoto Asia – A Review

Last night we went to Downtown Disney, now renamed to Disney Springs. One of the folks I’d worked with a couple of years back was having a birthday, so a half dozen of us (now all working elsewhere, or not working) got back together for a bit of a celebration.

We met at a restaurant called “Morimoto Asia”.
This is named for one of (the original?) “Iron Chef” stars.

First, the good:

The place is very well designed from a facilities point of view. Ambiance is an interesting Asian / Modern mix with a motif that reminds me a bit more of Japan than China, but doesn’t really shout either of them. Classy and comfortable.

Seating was fast, and there were plenty of servers ( in theory, 2 were assigned to our table, for 6 folks).

Then, the not-so-good:

Prices were “spectacular”. While you could “bottom feed” on things like Gung Pao Chicken for a “mere” $22 (IIRC) many main courses ran up to $30 to $50 range. That’s the main course… Sides add more. Appetizers range in the $10 to $20 band. Then there are drinks… One Sake, for example, has a $17 price on the menu. That’s for a shot glass, basically. But, you can get a nice carafe of it (I’d guess about 1 cup or 250 ml? Sphere about the size of a large orange) for $45 with two shot glasses.

My regular haunt is Wolfgang Pucks Bar, and I’d stopped there when I first arrived. Had a teaser of Hamachi nigri (a very nice white fish sushi… it is the one year old fish and there are different names for the same fish if younger or older) and a sake service totaling to $16. That was “the usual” small carafe of maybe 150 ml? Now I didn’t pay much attention to how much of the bill was which, but for an excellent nigiri sushi and sake to wash it down, that ain’t bad. (Their Pizza is to die for too ;-) So after that intro to the evening, hitting a $17 shot glass is “reentry shock”…

The Very Good:

The food is just great. The shrimp appetizer and the ‘tuna pizza’ were both just fantastic. I ordered “hamachi tartar” that comes as an ounce sized cylinder sitting in a dish of a sauce with fascinating flavors. It comes with a ‘peach’ about the size of a quail egg (some asian special fruit) and the expected wasabi and ginger. IMHO, the bare dab of wasabi was way too small to be of use (pea sized), but I’m a great lover of wasabi (Massive Quantities! I’m not crying yet! ;-) Then there was a kind of crab roll one of the folks ordered that was delicious.

The Unfortunate:

We’d told the waiter that we were going to be a bit slow as we were having a bit of a party. He seems to have taken this to mean HE ought to be slow… (The proper interpretation is more like “we want fast service for a few rounds of drinks, don’t push the move to diner service too soon”). The first round of drinks took way too long to arrive, then the appetizers were a bit slow after ordering in their arrival. Then we had a second round of drinks while waiting to place our dinner order. Time passed. Once you eat something, in about 20 minutes it starts to raise blood sugar and hunger leaves…

The bottom line is that we decided not to order dinner, but just do a second round of appetizers and drinks. I’d been eying the Peking Duck (at about $27 / person 2 people min) as I wasn’t interested in a $40 entre… and I’ve never had Peking Duck so figured this was the place to try it. Instead, went for the California Roll. Nice, but only so much you can do with a roll. The waiter made a point of their rice being special in that it wasn’t ‘sticky rice’ but was {some process they did -polished? something…} so ‘special’. Yes, it was a nice rice, but tended to fall apart just a bit in the soy sauce. They made a point that the soy sauce was their own brew. Bonito flakes and some other things. It IS a very tasty sauce, but with the hints of ‘fish sauce’ overtones, might not be suited to all sushi. In particular, vegetarians will need to ask if they have any without fish flakes in it.

The Overall:

Overall, it’s a very nice very very high end restaurant. One where ‘slow service’ ought to never happen ( or perhaps one ought to say “frequent tending without setting an agenda” ought to happen when the guests want to linger) even when the party says “we are going to be a bit slow” when prompted for dinner orders and we haven’t all read the menu yet… We likely ought to have been more “assertive” after the first slow arriving drinks round, but didn’t. Then again, perhaps being on the 2nd floor outdoor patio was part of it (further from the kitchen and bar, easier to be forgotten outside… but the view was pleasant and the night tropical air a delight…) Service was generally quite good. The waiter had a good ‘show’, with good customer skills and got the orders right. Dirty dish pickup was subtle and polite. All the things you would expect.

I would have liked to have tried their main courses, but that was not to be. Having seen their prices, I was hoping for something that lived up to them. That said, for sushi and sake, hit the Wolfgang Puck’s bar that has the sushi chef right in front of you and last night had the best hamachi I’ve ever tasted. For high end Asian Fusion with Asian Ambiance and very inventive ‘twists’ on the expected (like the soy sauce and ‘special’ rice and interesting seasoning, and tuna sashimi pizza) go to Morimoto Asia – but bring a very big wallet… Figure on $100 to $200 per person, depending on drinks and appetizers / sides added to your main course.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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12 Responses to Morimoto Asia – A Review

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    Some establishments are meant to be visited often, others just once.
    Morimoto-Asia seems to be the later, a destination for the bragging rights…pg

  2. Gail Combs says:

    P.G. It is like Ruth Chris Steak House. Reserved for corporate events where you entertain important clients or the 25 wedding anniversary.

    It is certainly not for us middle class serfs.

  3. philjourdan says:

    I hope to be down there in a couple of weeks. We have not decided if we are going to Disney yet, but if we do, I will make sure to check out Wolfgangs. My wife hates fish (but I love it).

  4. John F. Hultquist says:

    So, I guess your check from Big Oil did come.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F.:

    I Wish…

    It took about 1/3 of my “getting home money”. I had to hit up the ATM again today to gas up the car…

    I had no idea what the place was, just that the birthday party was there (even had to ask how to find it …) Some in the group have more “upscale” tastes than mine… and they made the reservations… (remember me? The guy who took an 80 hour Greymutt to get here?…)

    I can move in those circles, but the extravagance and waste offends me.

    For my return trip, I’ve bought a $3 loaf of Italian bread, a 1/2 pound of mortadella (fancy baloney) and a 69 ¢ jug of mustard.. That will be meals for the first day or two… plus any leftover jerkey and gorp from the ride in…

    Now I can really appreciate the “finer things in life”; but a rip is still a rip even if the product is great…

    Hey, what do you expect from a GAARP investor? (Growth At A Reasonable Price – “sure I like quality stuff, but at a good price too!”)

  6. D. J. Hawkins says:

    I was on a business trip with a number of colleagues in Naples, Florida and we found ourselves at Sea Salt. It was a marvelous experience, my only regret was I couldn’t share it with my better half. The prices were legendary; thank God it was a business expense. IIRC, the total for our party of 5 or 6 was well north of $700.

  7. H.R. says:

    Ouch! Too bad your kids are grown, E.M., or you could have swapped your first-born for a 7-course meal there. (Was that mysterious faint whimpering sound everyone was hearing coming from your wallet? :o))

    I’ve done one of those destination places just once – on purpose – for an anniversary. I don’t think I would have reacted to the surprise prices as well as you did. If it had been me, I’d still be in the back washing dishes 3 days after the dinner :o))

  8. gallopingcamel says:

    You can’t make this stuff up. My #3 son works at Morimoto’s. While he did not look after you he did notice your function upstairs and outside yesterday. Maybe you were noisy.

    It seems that you are back in Florida so I will be p**ssed if you don’t call me with the idea of arranging a great get together at Morimoto’s.

  9. Steven Fraser says:

    E.M. : A thing I have done in the past to ensure attention by staff is to tip in cash each round of drinks, beginning with the first one. The immediacy of the service feedback seems to reduce the cycle time for subsequent service. Regardless of the first order size, $10 given hand-to-hand seems to have the desired effect, especially if it is mentioned that each round of drinks and the dinner service itself will be similarly treated.

    Word will get ’round the kitchen pretty fast, and I bet the manager comes out after entre service to make sure everything is super.

  10. philjourdan says:

    @E.M.

    (remember me? The guy who took an 80 hour Greymutt to get here?…)

    LOL! Catering to the nuevo riche and greyhound patrons the world over!

    Sorry, but that line just got me to laughing.

  11. H.R. says:

    @phil
    OK… that’s funny!

    Greymutt patron: “Can you wrap that order to go? I have a bus to catch in 15 minutes.”

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    You laugh, but…

    Well, but I’m laughing too ;-) There were several moments on the Greydog Express when it was clear someone had the penny drop that I wasn’t the typical patron. I’m staunchly middle class and it cuts both ways. I’ll move in either circle, but always with a bit of out-of-place affect…

    I was ‘enlisted’ by the lady in the row in front of me (from Houston to Orlando? something like that… to watch over her infant a couple of times while she dashed off the bus for one reason or another. (From dumping the collected diapers to buying some better snacks to, I suspect, just a couple of moments alone. Being constantly surrounded by folks is hard enough, doing it while tending an infant harder still… I’m sure sometimes just 2 minutes all alone is treat). Her daughter was, IMHO, about 4 to 5 months old. Hair braided with beads on it in that way only blacks can do, so it seems. Absolutely cute, and well behaved. Only once or twice a bit of a cry, quickly serviced and gone.

    In two or three stations I was recruited by strangers to “watch their bags” as they ran to the bathroom, or to check boards, or whatever. Folks I’d not really talked with (i.e. not folks from my bus…) just next to me on the bench. I guess I looked like the most responsible person around.

    One security guard in El Paso? asked if I had any “explosives, knives, …” etc.etc. in my pack and I said “I don’t think so…” (implied “Tim”… shades of Tim The Toolman..) but he didn’t catch it right off. I started by opening the pouch with laptop and said “This is the laptop and related computer equipment, in the next pouch” (unzip next major pocket of backpack) “we have clothing” (where there were three shirts & 1 pants neatly rolled and stacked, socks and boxers lower down) as I was about to open the “bathroom section” he looked at me with that “What the hell am I doing stopping this guy” look (maybe finally noticing the London Fog overcoat and dress shirt and all – though no tie…) and stepped back with a ‘nevermind’ kind of “OK”… (Move along, move along, these are not the backpacks you are looking for…)

    So it went…

    At the same time, put on a coat and tie and I’ll fit in at board meetings and sales calls and expense account lunches (though feeling a bit uncomfortable at the money being spent that could do more for the folks on the bus…) I was an on-the-road Senior Consultant for a mainframe database company in the early ’80s. I’d have a seven course Italian meal AND en entire bottle of nice red for dinner each night, on the expense account at the hotel. After a year or two, noticed I was a couple of sizes larger. Looked at the other Senior Consultants and saw heart attack and 300 lbs in my future… so changed jobs. But man was that a nice run on the expense account… “Emil’s Swiss Affair” has a great lunch if you’ve got the corporate card… 2nd street, San Jose, then.

    @Steven:

    I think it was partly our fault for saying we were going to be a bit slow due to it being a birthday party… Ought to have made clear that meant couple of rounds before transition to dinner service not ‘bring each round slowly’…

    @G.C.:

    Sorry to have brought you pissedness. It was a rush trip with a specific goal, and I had to be back here for this week as the spouse has a list…. so I’m hustling to do all the Christmas stuff now. No rest for the wicked, or the traveler…

    Maybe next time. (I’m hoping to be back in Florida again when things are warmer).

    @D.J. & H.R.:

    I’m OK with paying up for “good goods” and don’t mind the occasional ‘destination experience’.

    One, in particular, was at The Pomegranate (however you say it in Japanese) on the Ginza. Payed for by one Dr. Inabe (sp?) who was treating our party. I was there assessing real estate for a company expansion (as Director of I.T. & Facilities… that included office R.E. deals) of our existing office. I took one of ‘my I.T. guys’ with me as he was a prior Foreign Exchange Student to Japan. We met his house mother (who had a modest cottage in the ‘burbs) and she new The Dr. (as, I think, had ‘my guy’ years ago). Well, The Doctor had invented a dermotome technique that removed the scent producing parts of glands in the armpit… and Japanese were paying a lot for a less stinky subway ride… Owned a block of downtown Tokyo for his hospital… He decided to take us all out for a night to remember. Ordered things I’ve never seen before (in a private dining back room at the upscale place…). One sushi looked like the usual nori wrap with roe on top, but in fact was baby herring. Each about 1/4 inch long? Something like that. I was later told that we had likely run into the several $thousands for dinner …

    Another night my landlord for the existing office took me to a penthouse restaurant (wanting to keep our business) where we had kobi beef shabu shabu… and aprox. one geisha clad server per person… IIRC each round of thin sliced beef was $100 and almost enough to make one burger sized sandwich… but man was it tasty ;-) There were other courses too, and some very expensive sake.

    And yes, it is way better when it is on somebody’s expense account ;-)

    So I just accept that the experience “is what it is and costs what it costs” and go along for the ride. No sense spoiling the special with worry about the price. Just plan more baloney sandwiches for the next week ;-)

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