Morimoto Napa @ 610 Main Street
I had an assignment in Napa for about 7 weeks, so you’ll be seeing a lot of Napa restaurants in upcoming posts. Apparently, Iron Chef Morimoto has a restaurant in Napa. As it is culinary mecca, I guess I’m not too surprised. I am a big Iron Chef fan, so I thought I’d pay the restaurant a visit.
I came at 8pm on a Wednesday night and had made a reservation via opentable under J’s account. It may sound unnecessary but better safe than sorry. When I got there the waitress failed to greet me. Instead she was busy flirting with some obviously intoxicated guys. I waited patiently for about 10 minutes when a waitress finally greeted me and noted that I was in the system. She kindly walked me to the dining area and told me I could sit anywhere I want. I chose to sit in front of the sushi bar. I didn’t want to take up an entire table when I am dining alone afterall. I sat again for another 20 minutes before my waiter actually came out to see if I needed anything. By then, I was ready to order.
I started off with Morimoto’s famous toro tartare. As you can see by the picture below, his presentation is not your typical tartare that comes in a round cylinder. Instead it’s plastered on a wooden frame. The tartare is presented alone and is not masked by any other ingredients. He also provides soy sauce as well as 6 different supplementary condiments: 4 sauces (nori paste, wasabi, sour cream and avocado), and 2 toppings (finely chopped scallion, and rice crackers). It kind of looks like a canvas and paint, doesn’t it? My favorite was definitely the nori paste.
I went on to get the washugyu beef carpaccio. The presentation wasn’t nearly as awe inspiring as the toro tartare, but it was clean and pretty nonetheless. The beef was tender and melted in my mouth. It was slightly seared and was soaked in yuzu, garlic and ginger. I also enjoyed this a lot.
Lastly, I told the waiter I was feeling like fish that night. He recommended the crispy whole fish. I know it says “whole fish,” but for some reason I failed to make the connection. I felt a little weirded out about eating something still with its face intact. Nonetheless, I found this dish’s presentation impeccable. It looks like a painting of a fish swimming in water (dirty water albeit). The preparation also must’ve taken considerable technique as the layer of crispiness was very thin, but the meat of the fish inside was still perfectly cooked and not one bit overdone.
After stuffing my face, I went home to bed. I found it to be a very satisfying meal. A couple days later, however, J forwarded me an email from opentable that requested I confirmed whether or not I was a no-show at Morimoto. I was in disbelief. That hostess did not check me in even after the waitress told her to. She was too busy daydreaming about that other customer still, I suppose. I normally don’t write so much on service of a restaurant since food always mattered more to me and I’m a pretty laid back person. I just found it so surprising that a Japanese chef owns the restaurant, yet the service was so mediocre. While they weren’t straight up rude (except for the hostess’ blatant disregard for me), I felt that the waiter was not one bit attentive and I sensed a pretentious atmosphere in the air. At first I was wondering why Morimoto’s Napa restaurant did not even warrant one michelin star, but after dining there I understood why. Their service is seriously lacking and I found the restaurant tried too hard to be trendy rather than welcoming. Food was good though. I still admire the chef’s conviction towards presentation and really making food an art. Will I come back? I’m not too sure :|
– Charmin Bear T