Debbie and I did a little holiday splurging last Thursday and had a fabulous three-hour meal at Morimoto, chatting and goofing and laughing and loving nearly all of the eight courses (plus intermezzo) that made up that night's omakase.
This big, fun, slickly-designed restaurant (on 10th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets), has been open now for almost a year, and though it was pretty packed the whole time we were there, I secured our 7:30 reservation only the day before, so maybe it's not quite the hot ticket it was last spring. But the service was low-key, friendly and attentive; the bathroom stalls tricky and cool; and, best of all in terms of atmosphere, they have somehow mastered the noise level issue that has baffled so many other places: Morimito felt like a party—there were lots of people in high spirits, and the lounge-y electronica music was loud enough to really hear—but we could talk comfortably without raising our voices.
As for the food... most of what we had was excellent. The rich, luscious Toro Tartare covered a small wooden tray, with five complements at bottom—wasabi, creme fraiche, crispy rice cracker "pops", a terrific seaweed sauce and something else—a dollop of osetra cavier on top and a miniature flat shovel as the utensil. The Yellowtail Carpaccio in Scallion-Ginger Dressing was sweet and melty. The Whitefish on Something with eggplant and a perfect passion fruit dipping sauce struck a nice balance between salty, oceanic, and refreshingly citrusy. The big missed opportunity in the meal's first half was the Oyster with Foie Gras and Uni, which sounds amazing but was unfortunately drenched in teriyaki sauce.
After the entertaining Green Tea intermezzo, it was on to six beautiful pieces of Sushi; a competent Grilled Lobster, somewhat bizarrely covered in spices Debbie and I associate more with Indian food (and which neither one of us particularly enjoy), but I did appreciate its almost custardy lemon creme fraiche accompaniment; and, perhaps the best dish of the night, a generous, thinly sliced and totally delicious Kobe fillet over grilled sweet potatoes. Dessert was about as good as it gets in an Asian restaurant, with the coconut gelato and crisp, toffee-like cookie being the highlights.
Basically, we had a blast... and an exceptional meal.