Morimoto Restaurant

Morimoto got panned in the New York Times.  One star after spending the amount of time and energy in a space that large must be painful to the owners.  It would be to me. 

We go out every 2 months or so with 2 other couples for dinner.  One of us, not me, is a big time restaurant chef/owner.  Needless to say when where ever we have gone, we get special treatment and a good meal.  We also get extras sent over because the chef wants our chef to taste.  It is part of the customs between chefs. 

Last night we checked out Morimoto.  The space is huge.  It appears to have 5 different seating areas and a downstairs bar area.  There are long tables, small tables, tables between glass partitions, tatami seating too.  Very Disneyland like.  The basement is one big poured concrete mass.  The bathrooms have hot seats and different buttons for washing yourself.  I guess it is big in Japan or Philadelphia?  For such a huge to do, the work looked very worn and not fresh.

Let’s talk about the food.  Awful.  We considered the chef’s tasting menu but the options sounded unappealing.  They also served sushi and the beginning vs. the end like most Japanese chefs do.  Something was unappealing about eating grilled beef after sushi.  We opted for sharing.

We shared 6 cold and 6 hot appetizers.  We each ordered our own sushi.  We also split 2 main courses.  The cold started with a corned beef like yellow tail, lamb carpacchio, mozzarella with different fish on top of the small pieces, oysters with foie gras, tuna tartare and a cold chicken salad.  The tuna tartare is served on a small wooden tray, pounded out.  Another part of the appetizers is a flat wooden tray that has 8 different layers across of what you can mix in with that.  Scallions, sour cream, etc.  Like the clothes this season, it is completely way over thought.  The only thing semi-edible was the poached chicken that had some decent tasting dipping sauce with it.

The warm appetizers fared no better.  Tuna pizza (the Mercer kitchen also makes one that makes Morimotos taste like fast food ), lobster dumplings, fried gyoza and rock shrimp tempura 2 ways.  The tempura wasn’t bad.  One was a spicy orange sauce and the other was a wasabi type sauce that wasn’t particularly tasty.  We also had the tofu that they make at your table.  It is a production.  The tofu was disgusting with horrible tasting dips.  I took one bite and shoved it away.

The sushi, which should be good, wasn’t.  It was the rice.  I can make better rice at home.  Even your local sushi guy can make better rice.  It tasted like it had been sitting around since 6am that morning.

Desserts came.  Nothing worth discussing.  Morimoto was there and he never came out of the kitchen to say hello to our friend.  They didn’t send over one extra to taste.  The place is outrageously expensive.  I know I am being redundant but the food was just awful.  I woke up this morning and said to Fred again, after saying it last night, that was awful!!  He totally agreed. 

Bottom line, don’t go.  I would be surprised to see this place make it.  Disneyland type restaurants with bad food generally have a very short life.  If I was to review Morimoto, I wouldn’t even be kind enough to give him one star.  He gets a big zero from me.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Brouhaha

    Wow, GG, I didn’t trust the Times (never know when they have an axe to grind, i.e. Iron Chef snobs) but I trust you.

    It’s off my list.

    LA and I had been to the one in Philly a few years ago, and it was smaller and quite good.


  2. Jason

    Shocking! I love his place in Philly… I wonder if you went too early–my dad always said never visit in the first two months since folks are getting the kinks out.

    Rice is the key… that is for sure. Perhaps since you were at a table that added to the problem. I try to avoid the tables because folks take so much time getting the sushi from the chef to the bar.

    Gordon and I have been eating Tokyo-style sushi here in LA (warmer rice, more seasoned… really amazing).

    I’m still gonna try Morimoto… but i’m gonna keep your review in mind. keep them coming!

  3. raji

    While I see no reason for any serious gourmet to go here – for less money you can do much better with the kaiseki at Sugiyama, or if you need a scene, Megu – I have a few questions about your review –

    Are you really accustomed to seeing sushi/sashimi last? My time in Japan taught me that you start the clean palate with the delicate fish and then move on to stronger flavors like red meat…

    How can yellowtail resemble Corned Beef?

    How much of this is sour grapes over not getting special service?

  4. Jim Fobes

    Come to San Diego and I’ll show you how to catch yellowtail and eat it really fresh..Bring your own wasabi, although I have light soy on the boat. Seating is on the deck of my 18-foot Panga and we share the fileting knife (although you’re welcome to bring your own pocket knife, which I’ll sharpen for you. If you don’t like the outdoor ambience or the taste of the fish, you can only blame Mother Nature.
    I love your blog.

    Jim Forbes
    (a young retired reporter and Demo event producer in rural northern San Diego County)

  5. Peter Wunsch

    Wow. I’m surprised. We went with a group of eight (but we are older and less hip) and had a great time. The scene was fun, the service really good but not bothersome and the food was great. BUT we did not go for sishi, we went to try the many cooked specials we had read about and shared.
    For sushi we already have our neighborhood spots but the varied dishes like rock shrip tempura; duck, duck, duck; and the cooked yellow tail were great. Try again.

  6. Ann-Marie Nguyen

    hey… just googling as we just went to Morimoto last night. he was there and smiling away. the rice was bad i’ll agree (i’m big on rice), but we had EXCELLENT appetizers… kobe beef tartare and also the gigantic crab legs… well, maybe it was an off night but i would eat there again… (on an expense acct)…

  7. Michael Martin

    Ditto: Ate there – what an embarrassment. I adore Japanese cuisine and have wandered Japan. I think it is unlikely Morimoto has even set foot in this “clip joint”. Fish was old, the waiter had dirt in his fingernails, and horribly overpriced! Yuk.