Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Morimoto, Philadelphia, PA

After pretty much spending the entire month of December wondering what in the hell I could possibly give a man who already has everything he wants (and promptly purchases those items he doesn't have the moment they are processed by his neanderthal brain as "needs"), I was at a complete loss as far as a Christmas gift for him.  Already planning a New Year's weekend trip to Philly, the tiny cogs in my matchmaking head started spinning wildly as they forumulated a way for UD to hook up with his preeminent mancrush, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto...or at the very least, a few of his culinary creations.

After securing 7:00 PM reservations via OpenTable.com, we slid into a primo table (with some kind of weird phallic lamp in the center of it...was never quite sure if its purpose was to provide ambient lighting or, ahem, "set the mood") for two right on time.  UD waxes enthusiastic:

The interior was slick and the ever-changing color scheme of the translucent booths was whimsically charming and somewhat reminiscent of "the Horse of a Different Color" in The Wizard of Oz.

The spousal unit opted for the "chef's choice" tasting menu which allowed him to place himself in the capable hands of our famous executive chef and enjoy a multi-course extravaganza of whatever the staff decided to put before him.  Priced at $80, $120 "and up" per person, he decided to be gentle with my debit card and settled for the $120 sampling along with the mid-priced Beverage Omakase ($65 for a carefully chosen adult beverage pairing with each of the Godzillion different courses).  First up, Yellowtail Tartare with Caviar, Crispy Shallots, Leeks and a Japanese Peach garnish.  I don't care much for uncooked seafood, but even I was able to savor a forkful of this ocean-fresh tuna with dashi dipping sauce.  Paired with a glass of Chandon Brut Rose, Dogboy deemed it "divine".
Next up was a trio of perfect, tiny raw oysters served with a glass of Morimoto Sake.  One topped with Japanese Salsa, one with Citrus Ceviche and the last with Thai Pepper Sauce, they were slurped down in veryshort order.  Again, not being a fan of raw mollusks (coupled with a vague recollection of being literally carried out of a Japanese restaurant back in the '80s after a couple of bottles of saki crept up on me unexpectedly), I steered completely clear of this offering.

Dish three in Jimbo's raw fish overload were some thin slices of scallop served in a garlic ginger bath of hot oil.  There was a Spanish wine paired with it (we think it was called "Vermentino", but we had already imbibed ourselves way into "thank God we took a cab" mode by this point so it honestly could've been Mad Dog 20/20 for as much as I can recollect).

An incredibly mild Whitefish Carpaccio with Yuzu Soy, Hot Oil and Mitsuba Leaf was the next item slid under UD's snout (we'll get to what I had after I finish walking you through the never-ending tasting journey experienced by my better half).   He adored it...and while it didn't look all that bad to a non-sushi lover, I was increasingly happy that I'd ordered a la carte off the regular menu.

Let's move on to the Japanese Amberjack Sashimi Salad served up with a generous pour of Hess Sauvignon Blanc.  There seemed to be no end to the ubiquitous bounty of raw sea creatures plated up at Morimoto.  These are the shameful times when my redneck palate cannot be concealed and I am left bitterly longing for a skillet of hot oil and some cornmeal batter for dredging.
While I didn't covet most of Underdog's plates, his Lobster Epice (lobster roasted in an eight-spice blend served with yuzu creme fraiche) was taste that I could probably kill for under the right hormonal circumstances.  Served with a glass of Cartlidge & Brown Chardonnay, this sweet and spicy crustacean was nothing short of amazing.
Yes...there's still more. A little Kobi Short Rib appeared to (I'm assuming) gently lower UD off the Orgasmic Cliff after what we both thought was the "pièce de résistance".  This tender morsel was nicely paired with Napa Cellars Pinot Noir.
The phenomenal Morimoto tasting menu culminated in a Chocolate and Chestnut Torte with Rum Bourbon and Rice Pudding layers coupled with a five-year-old Madeira.
So...great for Dogboy you say, but what about our poor, frail Sweet Polly who narrowly escaped death by bird flu just days earlier?  Still feeling peaked, "dainty" was the order of the day...although I did manage to single-handedly snort a bottle of Bele Casel Prosecco over the course of the evening (at Morimoto's price of of $58 per bottle for a $15.95 bottle of sparkling wine...a "reasonable" markup by industry standards, albeit one that still kinda makes me want to clutch my pearls). 

I went "landlubber"for the evening and started with the Roasted Foie Gras served atop a crispy rice cake with cranberry sorrel.  It was a beautiful and mightily hearty portion for $26 and perfectly prepared.  I felt a little not in the least bit guilty for not sharing.  I love fruit accents with foie gras, and the sweet and tangy cranberries made the perfect foil for the earthiness of the perfectly cooked duck liver.
I was also tempted by the Wagyu Beef Oxtail Dumplings with kanzuri miso broth and red miso crisps...which proved to be the the tasty Deal of the Century for $15.  Wowza!
However, it was Morimoto's "duck duck duck" that made it onto the "Best Thing I Ever Ate" list.  Nothing short of spectactular, the tender slabs of juicy, rare madras roasted duck breast flanked by duck confit fried rice, a duck egg and mandarin oolong reduction were sheer nirvana on a plate.  At $33, this entree would easily satisfy on its own.  No need to spend $350 (before gratuity) like we did...although it WAS fun.
We had a fantastic time overall.  As an aside, our server was both efficient and knowledgeable, if not a tiny bit aloof and lacking enthusiasm.  Definitely recommended for a "Big Night Out". 

Morimoto on Urbanspoon


  1. It's about time you got that "Big Night Out" posted. Just in time, too. Your groupies were revolting. That is to say we were anxious to hear about your experience at Morimoto's.

    I look at your pictures and read your descriptions and just quiver. You had some good stuff, but UD's tasting menu just looked like heaven on platters.

    Two last thoughts: Again, happy birthday...and, Hero is a whimp. Crying - indeed!

  2. I'm heading to Philly in September. Kid driving and paying for gas and lodging. I'm paying for dinner.......this is the penultimate destination.