Having only started eating raw fish at the ripe age of 23, I would be condemned to call myself a Japanese food expert. In fact, it was not until recently that I have learnt the subtle difference between sushi and nigiri. All that being said, I beg you to listen to me on this one – do NOT waste your time going to Morimoto.
The only thing I remember coming out of Morimoto in the Meatpacking District in New York is the interesting waiting staff and a bill that broke my wallet, burning the biggest hole in it than any other Japanese restaurants I’ve been to in the city. What I mean by interesting, my friend M has the definition, “like walking into a Benetton commercial”, and she did not mean to cause any political distress with this. What she meant was actually quite the contrary - although Mr. Morimoto was doing everything in his power to create a staff body with as interesting a variety as possible in terms of height, weight, ethnicity and gender, what he has somehow forgotten to address is their attitude and knowledge of food. As bubbly and cheerful as they might appear, they exude an air of, either “I’m so cool I’m working at Morimoto, here’s your food and don’t expect me to know anything about it apart from its name,” from the tattooed, peroxide-blonde guy with a 6, 8, or was it a 10 pack?!, or “I’m at your humble service. I’m so grateful I was given the opportunity by the kind Mr. Morimoto to work here. I’ve tried very hard to remember the name of this dish so please don’t ask me anything else about it, please…” from the small, lanky Indian guy with the shy smile. We did exactly as we were assumedly told. We ate quietly and did not ask any questions. When the girl at the reception came round the fifth time asking us how everything was, we just politely smiled and nodded. We did not know what else to say.
In all fairness, the food at Morimoto was not bad at all. Tuna tartar, nigiri, wagyu beef, lobster… all the essentials, or typical, were there. But as an Iron Chef with a Tadao Ando designed interior in your restaurant and a $190 omakase menu, you better have something more to show before I’ll come back to you again.