The Pit has longed to dine at one of Masaharu Morimoto's restaurants since first falling in love with his food watching the original Japanese version of Iron Chef and then Iron Chef America.  The man had knife skills, creativity, technique, execution, and a humbleness that is rarely seen in an American chef. For our 3rd anniversary we decided to take a weekend in New York City and fulfill one of The Pit's culinary fantasies.  We dined at Morimoto NYC and enjoyed probably the best modern Japanese cuisine we have had either stateside or in Japan.

The Pit View

    To sum up my meal in a word, "Perfect." From first bite to last this was the most thought out and precise meal I've ever had. A feast for all the senses. Each plate was constructed with impeccable presentation, aromas to tantalize the palate before each morsel is tasted. Each texture with a counter point to entice the tongue. And flavors across a spectrum to excite each of the taste buds and keep them bagging for more.  So basically what I'm saying is that I have a massive man crush on Morimoto and food crush on his dishes.
    The Omakase, a seven course tour designed to highlight the best of Morimoto's cuisine, was the only logical option for me on the menu.  I paired my meal with the Morimoto Daiginjo which was a clean crisp sake, with slightly floral notes and a touch o' citrus.
My first course was a pate of tuna with an assortment of mix-ins. The tuna pate was a familiar flavor, but it was elevated beyond similar dishes I have had by the mix-ins.  The mix-ins were wasabi, cream cheese, hoison-type sauce, scallions, and fried tempura bits.  With my little plate scraper in hand, I devoured every last morsel.  Then ate the single raspberry on the side for a pop of sweetness.

   The second course was a sashimi of Aji. The Aji was covered with a simple clover salad and a tangy ponzu sauce.  The flavors were crisp and precise.  The Aji has a distinct snappy texture that is different than most sashimi, the flavor is also very subtle and was perfectly complimented and not overpowered by the sauce.
    The third course was an anchovy, olive oil fondue with assorted vegetables, crisps, and a bologna cube for dipping.  The fondue itself was creamy with a strong briny flavor, an interesting juxtaposition after the crisp flavor and texture of the previous course.   The vegetables kept the sauce from becoming too overwhelming and provided enough textural variance to keep the palate amused.  Once again their were no survivors.
    The fourth course (oh yes there were seven courses to keep me fat, dumb, and happy) was a single perfect bite of oyster on the half shell with foie gras.  If it was any more decadent I would have melted into a puddle on the floor.  I just wish there was more than that single amazing bite.  Alas, Morimoto knows what he is doing and left me begging for the next course.
     The sushi course was fifth and like the glutton you know and love, I added a few extra pieces to sate my fish lust.  I mean that in an I love to eat fish way, not in the Troy McClure creepy way...   Where to begin?  There was Tuna, and Snapper, and Mackerel, Oh my!  Each piece was an excellent cut with a fresh, smooth flavor.  I'm normally not a fan of kasutera, more commonly known as egg sushi, but this one was light, fluffy, and melted in my mouth.  I added on the live octopus and the kinmedai or golden eye snapper.  Both were excellent and a rare treat not available at the average sushi joint.
    To break up the hedonistic orgy in my mouth, we had mango ice palate cleansers.  A perfect cool and slightly sweet way to get me ready for the main course.
      For the main course I was delivered a surf n' turf of Wagyu beef and lobster claw with a side of creme fraiche.  I'd like to tell you how wonderful and succulent this dish was, but honestly this was well into my second carafe of sake and I just remember it being their one second and then gone the next.  I do distinctly remember the bed of potatoes under the steak that were tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, a perfect sponge for the delicious Wagyu drippings.  Somehow the potatoes vanished as well.
      And dessert was not forgotten.  I was presented with something called a Mango soup that had fruit chunks and a scoop of green tea ice cream.  It was mildly sweet in a reserved manner as is typical in Japanese cuisine.  This was very refreshing after the richness of the main course.
     I could easily sit at the bar and continue for another seven as spectacular as the meal was.   Morimoto took my mouth through a variety of tastes, textures, and dishes that left me in culinary nirvana.  However, my gut was full, my wife was drunk, and we had spent the equivalent of a car payment on one amazing meal.  So we took our leave, dreaming about our return visit.

The Picky View

    I was a little intimidated by the menu.  I don't like sushi and normally find some sort of tempura or cooked dish whenever The Pit drags me to a sushi restaurant.     So I ordered a carafe of junmai, because I remember a pleasant moment getting drunk on that somwhere in Takayama and proceeded to pester the poor waiter with various questions about all the ins and outs of every dish, most importantly, does this have onions or raw fish?  Since The Pit was ordering a seven course meal I figured I needed to get a few courses just to keep up.  After agonizing over several different delicious sounding dishes I decided to go with a simple green salad, shrimp tempura appetizer, and the Duck Duck Duck main course.
    The green salad was a simple spring mix with a light, citrus vinaigrette.  At first I was nervous because of the cured and shaved bonito topping, but the texture was rough and unexpected from a fish.  So major life accomplishment, I ate uncooked fish on a salad and liked it! (My husband is pointing out that is was cured and I pointed out that I said uncooked not raw, either way a big, bold step for my taste buds!)  The bonito flavor along with some crunchy fried morsels I couldn't place, maybe tempura crunches or fried fish skin, made this simple salad superb.  I practically licked the plate clean.
    My starter was a crispy rock shrimp tempura served two ways, with a wasabi and a spicy kochujan sauce.  The flavor profile of each was complicated and muted, each flavor was zesty with some spice, however the heat did not overpower the other elements or subtract from the flavor.  The dipping sauce was a play on ranch that made this dish itself feel like high-end buffalo wings.  The shrimp was juicy, moist and incredibly fresh.  I did end up picking off some chive shavings from the top (why chef's why?) still the dish was incredible.
      Even though I did not order the Omikase they thoughtfully provided me a mango, ice palate cleanser as well.  The cold, mildly sweet bite was a perfect follow up to the spicy shrimp.
        I do regret not ordering something lighter for the main course.  The Duck Duck Duck was delicious, only by the time it arrived the salad, appetizer, and the carafe of sake had taken their toll on my stomach space. (Okay full disclosure, 2 carafes of sake) Not wanting to waste either the crispy duck or the duck croissant sandwich, I gnawed away before entering a small food coma.  I passed the duck egg to my husband and admitted a full, happy defeat.
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