What better way to end the weekend than to eat sushi at one of Philadelphia’s best restaurants? The idea occurred to me as I was sipping my weekly Sunday soy chai latte at the Philadelphia Java Company and doing some work. So I briefly looked up the address and made my way to Morimoto by my lonesome.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Morimoto, he’s best known as the third Japanese Iron Chef on the TV cooking show Iron Chef. I remember watching him late at night and laughing at the dubbed English. The translations were hysterical. Anyways, Stephen Starr, a renowned restauranteur in Philly and NY, was looking to open his first Japanese restaurant. He was introduced to Morimoto through a headhunter and the rest is history. Morimoto restaurant is one of the most famous eateries in Philly and rightfully so.
As soon as you enter the building, you can’t help but ignore the hostess for a moment and absorb your surroundings. The decor was surreal. As I snapped back into reality, I told her I wanted a seat at the sushi bar. Watching the sushi being prepared is half of the experience for me. So I followed the waiter to the bar, who then pulled the chair back for me and handed me a menu.
I started off with a traditional miso soup. It was served piping hot in an over-sized bowl, garnished with onions. Instead of small pieces of tofu that you normally find in this type of soup, there was a large piece of tofu. It had just enough taste and added the perfect amount of texture to complete the dish.
Since there were too many choices to choose from on the menu, I went for the $30 Chef’s Combo, which features an array of nigiri and rolls. They also had one for $50 and $120, but that was overly ambitious for just myself to eat. I wanted traditional sushi, not some overdone Japanese dish that I’m sure would be delicious, but not something you’d typically find in Japan.
I watched the chefs delicately cut the pieces of fish and carefully assemble my plate together.
The chefs put together an assortment of fish, everything from fatty tuna to salmon to eel along with a spicy tuna roll and a piece of Japanese cake. The cut of the fish was to die for. Every single piece melted in my mouth like butter. I savored every bite like it was my last and couldn’t help but just have a huge grin on my face. It was absolutely exquisite. I also ordered myself a piece of ikura (of course), which was probably the only disappointing part of my meal. The color was great, but the texture was a bit soft, which indicates that it probably wasn’t very fresh. Regardless, it was still very edible. To finish it off, I cleansed my palate with this delicious piece of moist cake.
The waiter tempted me with the dessert menu and I couldn’t say no. I eventually decided on the Yuzu meringue tart served with pieces of mango in raspberry sauce. The outer part of the tart was creamy and heavenly, served on a crunchy biscuit. As I delved further into it, there was a cold citrusy middle that mended perfectly with the mango. It was a perfect ending to a perfect dinner.
When the check came, I really wasn’t surprised. The $60 range was what I was expecting and I left incredibly satisfied. I gave the waiter a $12 tip because he was excellent and very attentive. I will definitely be back soon for another taste.