Given celebrity chefs’ busy television filming schedules, paid appearances, PR stunts, cooking demos, drinking binges and book signings, how can someone like Masaharu Morimoto have time to oversee the quality of his namesake New York restaurant? The answer is, he doesn’t. His staff of well-trained, hard working chefs, sous chefs, servers, bartenders and busboys make Morimoto a fantastic dining experience.
To be honest, I was worried Morimoto might be overpriced, phoned-in, Nobu-fusion, but it turned out to be a memorable night of fine dining.
Sure, it’s not easy to secure a location like the Chelsea Market without a few ties to the Food Network. It’s probably also difficult to build out a stunning room with multiple levels, great acoustics and an immaculate kitchen without some strong financial backing.
So in actuality, it’s the combination of an Iron celebrity chef and a winning team of passionate food professionals that makes Morimoto excellent.
We were seated at one of the best tables in the restaurant, with a clear view of the sushi bar. We started with a bottle of rose and followed it with specialty cocktails (White Lily, Manhattan). After ten minutes it was clear service would be flawless throughout the night. It was.
So, the food (please, excuse the pictures):
1) Mushrooms 3 ways: Comsumme with mitsuba, chawan mushi with uni, and tempura fried
2) Tako salad seared with hot chili oil and ponzu
3) Junmai Sake
4) Tuna Pizza: Grilled tortilla brushed with eel sauce topped with maguro, olives, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, tabasco, anchovy aioli and cilantro.
5) Hamachi kamaa: Grilled yellowtail collar topped with scallion and ginger and seared with hot oil and soy.
6) Sushi/Sashimi assortment: Tai, saba, murugai, uni, hirame, tamago, mentaiko roll, otoro, amberjack
I’m sure some of Flay and Lagasse’s Vegas outposts don’t maintain the quality that their flagship restaurants uphold. I know Batali’s don’t, as I’ve been to a few. Morimoto’s other restaurants may not fair as well either, but Morimoto in Manhattan is a great restaurant.