Dinner with Dan: Morimoto

Dan Davis


723 Chestnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

Domo Morimoto, Mr… I know, I’m not that lame, but I could not help but burst out in beautiful tenor when originally hearing the name of the restaurant at which I would be dining, and at the end of the evening, singing couldn’t describe the pleasure experienced at Morimoto.

There is nothing like this on the Main Line, let me be the first to tell you. This is a restaurant in a class of its own; Japanese in nature, but not afraid to unsheathe some Asian fusion upon request.

Want someone else to handle parking your vehicle? No problem. Morimoto adores the valet process (unless you are hoping to get your flivver parked).

So this is the “cream of the crop.” Allow me to introduce you to the near-perfection that attracts glitterati and other high-class individuals.

In the streets of Philadelphia, you will find an exquisite and inexplicable entrance to a place that does not quite fit in with the rundown and irreparable buildings surrounding it. Cue, Morimoto.

Once past the gateway to an astonishing entrance, you enter a futuristic world. After depositing your coat with the cordial host, you will recognize an avant-garde atmosphere at first.

The lights alternate through a prism of colors to provide aesthetic pleasure. The well-spaced seating alleviates the threat of smoke traveling to your area, while also allowing a pleasant amount of freedom to chat audibly. The upbeat music resembles that of a Zoolander fashion show, attracting ultramodern individuals. Otherwise, the multitude of customers ranged from overdressed 40-year-olds holding onto their youth, with the majority being business folk relaxing after a strenuous day.

On the menu: a plethora of pleasure and pain instantaneously. So many options with such space constraint in your digestive tract leaves decision-making an abulia. And no, asking a neighbor will not be beneficial; just inform the staff of your dilemma, tell them you are a Morimoto novice, and you might end up with the Omakase ($80, $100, $120).

Wild, is it not? A seven-course meal (including dessert) of spectacular specials, all first-timers get a preset meal, to ensure their satisfaction and their return to treat their taste buds on another night.

Aside from that choice, which over 50 percent of customers choose, we have a menu for those who act independently and are not afraid to rebel against conformity. This menu is filled with Japanese-influenced foods, and the chefs are dying to concoct a fresh look to a typical style of sushi. The price range of the menu is moderately outrageous. This is not a place I would recommend to the weak at heart. A bowl of miso soup (regularly $1.50) cost me $8 because they stamped the Morimoto name on it. Beware.

You will also notice the infamous M.P. (market price) located throughout the menu on select entrées and sushi. Hah, excuse my guffaw. If you are ready to be surprised more than on your first viewing of “Usual Suspects,” order an M.P. tagged item.

Away from the “killer” prices, we have the food. 10 out of 10. Hey, the Iron Chef works here and teaches the staff, so enough said.

The quality is incomparable, and very rarely have I had a meal near this one’s greatness. Everything I had was absolutely stupendous, but the most remarkable item was definitely the “Ishi Yaki Buri Bop” ($23). This entrée is filet mignon, rice and a collection of other herbs, spices and finely diced accoutrements, put together in a “volcanic” bowl and heated to somewhere around the sun’s temperature.

Away from the ability to melt you through the somehow resistant table, this satisfying dish is in a league of its own.

Most of the menu is very appetizing, and make sure you save room for dessert. This money will be well spent, especially considering they have a separate chef just to accommodate your needs.

Morimoto makes the top-five list in the area, and possibly owns the No.1 slot for sushi establishments. Parents are coming down and you want to expense a sweet meal from them? This should be your choice if you have the time.

If you are thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, consider this place, Rico Suave. Get the reservations while they are available though.