Ala Cuisine! Morimoto Asia is a leap of faith for this culinary juggernaut. As Nate and I are part-time Philadelphians (thanks medical school) we know how Morimoto rolls…ha, ha, ha, get it… For those of you who aren’t in the foodie know, Chef Masaharu Morimoto is a culinary legend. He hails from Hiroshima Japan and has been classically trained in sushi by none other than Nobuyuki Matsuhisa of acclaimed Nobu. He started his own sushi empire in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Nate and I made our home for 4 culinary delightful years. Admittedly, we have never been (they don’t pay medical students people!). So imagine my absolute delight when we heard Morimoto Asia was opening at Disney Springs! Disclaimer, this story has a rough start but a happy ending.
First visit was just after opening, we decided to try for lunch. We dined on delicately light, and oh-so-plump and juicy pork dumplings, chicken Bao buns that were sticky, sweet, and spicy, and at the time, there was also a fresh tuna sashimi pizza with a wasabi creme that cleaned your nose right out. Holy run-on sentence, Serena! I have to say, the food was amazingly fresh and clean. Here comes the but….but, you know me, I love great food but I’m not going to over pay for anything! The food was outstandingly fresh and absolutely expertly prepared, HOWEVER, I felt like the nearly $100 dollar price tag for the quality and portion size despite the quality just didn’t measure up. We wobbled away, disappointed, vowing never to try again.
Que DVC Duo’s last trip in the spring for the 2018 Flower Festival. We traveled with a newly indoctrinated Disney member, Josh, and with the newly revamped dining plan and the fact that Morimoto Asia was now a 1 meal option for lunch, we figured what the hell, let’s give it a whirl. Oh. My. Word. We have been redeemed! After much consultation with fellow DVC members and foodies alike, I realize, we have been thinking about Morimoto’s Asia all wrong. I wanted to experience Morimoto sushi. But what this restaurant is is Morimoto Asia. These two are not the same. This restaurant concept is his exploration into pan-Asian cuisine with a heavy influence on techniques and execution of familiar yet different flavors. We did not make the “expectation” mistake the second time around.
The First Course
We started with shishito peppers – wowzers! Everything you want in a shishito – crispy, oily, charred, sometimes BLOW YOUR MIND hot. Coupled with a creamy savory dipping sauce – mama mia! Then we all took drastic turns for our entrees.
I opted for the Morimoto spare ribs. Now, I will say, this is a highly unusual departure for me. I am a BBQ snob and I smoke my own meats, so ordering ribs out is a “no no” for me. Even further, I usually pass those sad spare ribs from the Pu Pu over to Nate….no thanks! These were mind-blowing! Crispy, fried, meaty, juicy, sticky, sweet, smothered yet not smothered in a hoisin chile glaze – holey tamole this was THE dish! 2 of my dining companions went for the Morimoto Buri-bop – yikes this one’s a keeper. Sizzling hot stone caldron with crispy seasoned rice, fresh sliced tuna sashimi saddled up alongside of the stoneware and a beautifully silky egg yolk running down the middle. BUT WAIT, then the server expertly mixes your Buri-bop to an elevated level. YUM. YUM. YUM. Our last dining companion had the Orange chicken. I know, I know, he’s new to the foodie game. I’ll tell you what though, that chicken was CRISPY, juicy, tangy and sweet with crunch-tender broccoli. It will put your local joint to shame.
The cocktails are inventive, fun, flirty, fruity, and flipping good. The wine list is fun too.
Appearance and Presentation
Gosh, the ambience is SWANKY. Like a Japanese night club swanky. But then you see a 3 year old in a princess dress and readjust just your perception of where you are. It’s all good.
There’s also a take-out, more casual joint just outside. But trust us, go inside, soak up that hip club scene, grab yourself some ribs. Sushi – yea it’s outstanding, but that’s not what Morimoto Asia is about. Indulge in the orange chicken and spare ribs – these are unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. We can’t recommend it enough, especially for lunch. Iron Chef!