There are some neighborhoods in NYC that are known for great food and rightfully so, i.e. the West Village. There are other neighborhoods that aren’t known for great restaurants where you can find them anyway, i.e. the Upper East Side. And then there are the neighborhoods that are mistakenly known for good restaurants, but really, the great restaurants are few and far between, i.e. the Meatpacking District.
The Meatpacking District is filled with pedestrian chain restaurants. It’s like a really pretentious and expensive food court. But in a sea of mediocrity there is one Starr restaurant. Morimoto, is one of the few great restaurants in the meatpacking district.
The restaurant has that MPD feel with a large light installation that starts on the first floor and goes downstairs to the bar. The large dining rooms are filled with a mix of small and large tables, including a communal table. But the most outrageous MPD-like feature can be found in the bathroom. Since a true lady never speaks about such things at the dinner table, you’ll just have to visit the bathroom the next time you visit Morimoto. Take my word for it; the bathroom and the food are worth the trip over to 10th Ave.
The menu at Morimoto is right up my alley, so I was utterly confused as to how to pick just a few dishes. The omakase, or the chef’s choice, is a multi-course tasting that is designed to allow you to experience the essence of Morimoto‘s cuisine. I really wanted the omakase, but it was sold out by the time we sat down for our 10:45 dinner reservation. The knowledgeable waiter helped me select a few key dishes that I would enjoy, as well as my friends with simpler palettes.
We started with the Waygu Beef Carpaccio, which was my favorite dish of the night. It was drizzled with yuzu soy, ginger and sweet garlic and garnished with leaves of cilantro. The clean and citrusy cilantro offset the sweet sauce perfectly. It was a light yet fulfilling way to start a meal.
The Toro Tartare was a dish the waiter said we couldn’t pass up. And after eating it, I understand why. Toro is the fatty cut of the tuna, which usually comes from the belly. So, it is creamier than a regular piece of tuna. The tartare is chopped finely and placed in a thin layer on a wooden block. It’s adorned with a dollop of osetra caviar. As if this wasn’t perfection by itself, it is accompanied by a sweet dipping sauce, wasabi, crème fraiche, and nori paste. Each bite was better than the last.
Crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura is not a dish I would normally order at a restaurant as celebrated as Morimoto. But, I am so glad I did. The shrimp was served two ways, in a spicy, almost buffalo-like sauce and in a sweet, honey mustard like sauce. They were served with a cool and creamy wasabi aioli. What could have been an run-of-the-mill dish was anything but ordinary.
Japanese Lobster Fritters might sound like an oxymoron but these tiny little spheres of delicious were a pleasant pop of flavor. A soft exterior envelops a creamy mixture of lobster, pickled ginger and scallion. This is a great dish to share, if you can manage not to fight your dinner date on who gets to eat the fifth and final fritter.
Every Japanese restaurant serves sea bass, and Morimto is no exception. The sea bass was served in a sweet sake kasu with Japanese eggplant and avocado tempura. The fish was delicate and flaky. While this dish was nothing different than every other sea bass you’ve had, it was delicious.
So, the next time you are in the meatpacking district, bypass the usual suspects and go straight to Morimoto. I mean, how can you go wrong with a name that starts with more?
88 10th Ave
New York, NY