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The Lowdown on Morimoto

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Where: Chelsea/Meatpacking

S&S Rating: 8/10

Zagat Rating: 26

Price: $40-$70 per person

Good For

  • Dining with friends: How often do you find a Japanese restaurant with substantial enough portions that you’re actually willing to share? In fact, I once had the most marvelous girls-night-out dinner at the Philly location with two friends before we headed to an art gallery party next door.
  • First dates: Beautiful modern décor and sophisticated food presentation make Morimoto a great place to take your potential new beau or belle. Just enough diners that it’s not the two of you sitting in an awkwardly empty and silent room, but not so many people that you can’t hear the funny joke your date just tried to win your heart with.

Bad For

  • Families: The ambiance is really made for trendy city-goers, and not babies, as cute as they may be.
  • Sushi connoisseurs: See below.

Don’t Miss

  • Rock Shrimp Tempura: I’ve ordered this dish at a dozen other Asian establishments before and nowhere comes close to beating Morimoto’s tempura-dipped shrimp that’s deep fried then drenched in a tangy chili sauce (steer clear dieters!). Large enough to share between three people, it’s the perfect appetizer to start your meal with.
  • Duck Duck Duck: Duck confit fried rice topped with a duck egg and served alongside succulent roast duck breast makes this one of my all-time favorite meals. Best part? There’s so much food that I actually had leftovers (that never happens to me…) which I ate for breakfast the next day. Yes, for breakfast. Duck deserves a spot at every meal.
  • Kakuni: Translates into “square simmered,” which connotes the giant cube of pork that’s been braised for 10 hours in a sweet soy and scallion jus.  Served atop a savory rice porridge, this traditional Japanese dish also has roots in China, where it’s braised in red wine and called “dongpo rou.”
  • Mary Jane brownie: Yup, that's a brownie topped with candied hemp seeds. I liked that the hemp flavor was definitely noticeable, even when combined with the decadent kinako (or soybean flour) ice cream.

Skip On

  • Australian Wagyu Steak: As my boyfriend put it, “I could’ve made this better at home.” The marinade tasted like pure butter and nothing else.
  • Sushi set: The quality of fish was considerably underwhelming, which wasn't surprising considering the sushi menu comprises mostly of Americanized rolls that drown out the taste of the actual fish with western ingredients like spicy mayo. Try Sushi Yasuda (see my review here) or Brushstroke if you’re looking for authentic sushi.