Laurie had the pleasure of visiting Morimoto Asia on opening day. See what she has to say……
This is one of the best restaurants in Florida. Morimoto’s is located across the lane from Raglan Road. The main entrance faces what used to be the parking lot. Eventually it will overlook a stream and Town Center but for now it is construction walls. It reminds me of New York City where you find a restaurant on a street with a sign and a glass front. Not elaborate decorations or decor. It has been kept in the Japanese old style, of simple is better. There is plenty of stroller parking but no indoor scooter parking. I went up a ramp to the front door and was greeted by a hostess in a tight red dress which some call a Chinese Wedding Dress or a Chinese restaurant hostess dress. There is a long version of this dress which is beautiful. The ladies looked stunning and were easy to identify as a hostess. As you enter there is patio seating on both floors which will eventually have a view other than walls. I was welcomed by staff at the desk and stood in awe at where they were taking me. This is a giant two story building with a sushi bar and seating along the walls. To fill in this vast void they used the most awesome and beautiful chandeliers. No longer the bottling plant, it is a sophisticated upscale restaurant with a few semiprivate areas, booths, bench seats, and armless chairs. On the table is your reusable red chopsticks waiting for you to dine. Overall, the only issue is noise but that is typical of any restaurant and should not be a problem with any guest. My meal was rather quiet and I was far enough from other guests to not have to hear them.
This is opening day, so they had some major issues with getting me fed. I feel that with proper training and time, they will be a well oiled machine that will handle any dietary limitation. They had the Vice President of Patina Group and the manager of the Napa restaurant with his chef. I’ve never seen so many suits in one restaurant. Chef Morimoto was there to oversee the opening of the restaurant and he was with the customers throughout the night. Few guests could not say they had not met Morimoto. He signed my menu which I treasure dearly. He is a fun loving and jovial person who made my day special.
The only thing that made me sad about the menu is the use of fake crab in the California Roll. However, they can substitute real Alaskan King Crab. I received the typical pickled ginger, wasabi and 6 pieces of sushi. The rice was free of vinegar taste and the grains were individual grains not soft mush. There was toasted white sesame and black sesame seeds on the rice. I tore apart my first piece to find fresh avocado, cucumber matchsticks, and fresh crab. The next one I ate half and savored that crab flavor that made this an awesome sushi that rivals Kona Cafe for best sushi.
I don’t like carpaccio or other raw meat usually. I ordered Hamachi tartar in a substituted yuzu sauce, Yamamomo Japanese mountain peach, and wasabi. The mountain peach is cherry in size and often used as a palate cleanser in Japanese restaurants. I ate mine first. It has a little bit of acidity and a fruity flavor. The Hamachi was topped with chives. It has a delicate tuna flavor and worked well with the wasabi and yuzu. It was finely chopped, or so it seemed, and melted in my mouth.
The grand finale was sorbet which turned out to be a work of art. The lemon sorbet reminded me of frozen lemonade without the sugary sweetness. Next was strawberry sorbet which screamed to me PALETA!! It reminded me of the Hispanic ice pop treat that was just strawberries and sweetener. It sang of strawberries. My least favorite was the orange sorbet which still was awesome with gentle orange notes. There were a variety of berries in the bowl and I stopped when my finger hovered over the bowl as if ready to start licking. This is one of the best desserts I have ever had. Best thing is challenging friends to eat the edible flower on top of the sorbet.
You can reserve a seat at the sushi bar. Currently the quieter upstairs is available to guests when they check in but can be booked for private events. There is a bar with a few stools and a little lounge where guests can enjoy drinks and food even if they do not have a reservation. The ladies restroom has a wall of photos on black tile. Very simple and chic with plenty of room in the stalls. Under the stairs are curtains that enclose a bench seat, tables and chairs for some almost private dining. The prices are reasonable and the menu is a tight one that gives you a variety of sushi, noodles, dim sum, desserts, entrees, and soups without overwhelming the kitchen and guests. I don’t like to sit at a restaurant and spend all my time trying to choose from 20 burgers, 10 salads, or 50 appetizers.
I highly RECOMMEND this restaurant. I had no reaction from my meal. They are new and still working on how to best handle special diets. I can recommend this restaurant as a safe place to dine even if you have dietary limitations. As for the rest of the restaurant, I have to say that it is one of the most awesome restaurants I have seen. The architecture, decor, theme, simplicity, and guest friendly staff make this a winner. They let a man drive his scooter to his seat then his wife took it outside. Very family and disabled friendly while being a fun place for friends to dine. The tables near me had adults having kid like fun as they shared appetizers. I cannot find one flaw in the food that was offered me nor in the staff. Except for the first rocky minutes, I had one of the best dining experiences in the past three years.