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With my dining partner Matt in tow, we were off to the METApacking District for a restaurant week lunch at Morimoto. When Hua told me that Morimoto NYC was like being in Vegas, my interest piqued. Vegas?? In NYC?? No WAY, can't wait! (Sarcastic face here). This perceptive comment has inspired this no-holds-barred, special Vegas edition of Umami Mart, live from NY!

As I rushed to meet Matt on 10th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, I noticed Morimoto one side, and these two joints exactly across the street.

Craftsteak, Del Posto AND Morimoto--three restaurants owned by celebrity chefs--on the same block?? How could this be? It reminded me of one of those strip malls that I grew up surrounded by-- the above two are side by side and look exactly the same! Matt noticed that Del Posto looked like an Olive Garden from the front, which I thought was pretty on point. At least Morimoto's entrance had some flair to it.

Location, VEGAS Factor: **** (out of 5 stars- one star taken out cause c'mon, even Vegas isn't as bad as the suburbs)

Perhaps one of the things I was most anticipating in visiting Morimoto was the interior design-- Tadao Ando is one of my favorite architects, and I was ready to be wowed.

I was far from wowed- frankly, the interior is a confused mix of materials and concepts. Ando is known for his minimal, sparse concrete designs, but here there were these curtain like waves undulating from the ceiling, that extended down one side of the restaurant. Another wall was just a plain wall flanked by clear glass. Uncharacteristically inconsistent.

There were these cement columns that jutted out from the center of the room, that acted as lamp posts essentially. Cement steps led you down to the lounge bar area, and the bathrooms.

So there's a lounge and bar downstairs that could fit maybe 30-40 people. Can't you just imagine all the lines of coke that can be snorted right off this bar? Vegas factor is way up on this one.

This glass bottle motif was used as the backdrop for the bar, which I thought was pretty neat looking (we're in Vegas here, cut me some slack).

Also, there was a wall of these bottles along one side of the cement steps going downstairs, backlit to make these starshaped designs. There was really no function for them to be there except to add bling to the place.

Interior, VEGAS Factor: **** (one star taken out cause it's still Ando, and he could never be entirely Vegas-y although he really did try!)

Now the bathrooms, what a beauty! I never wanted to come out! Forget the sushi lunch- you can find me on the can! When you walk into the stall, you're faced with an infinity mirror behind a beautiful glass wall of cherry blossoms. It's pretty hot.

Now this looks like just another toilet, but au contraire! This, my friend, is the Toto toilet. It's like magic. Look at all these buttons! Such toilet fun should be banned from public restrooms- I never wanted to come out!

Bathroom, VEGAS Factor: ***** (it's so perfectly Vegas!)

And now, the food. Does that really matter, when you're in Vegas? Of course it does, but when you're in a place like this, it's no longer about the food-- it's about the scene, the hype, the decor, what everyone's wearing, blah blah-- all the stuff that really probably shouldn't matter, but all the sudden you realize that you've become THAT person. It's sorta upsetting to know that an Iron Chef would put himself in such a superficial category of trendy restaurateurs (although I'm sure he doesn't see it this way, and whatever, this is Vegas).

Alright, alright, so the food. We got the sushi platter and the cod with a soy sauce glaze. Nothing too crazy. Oh wait, and we got Morimoto's signature 'tuna pizza' as a starter, which was pretty good.

Here's the sushi platter-- the eel came sloppily toppled over, which I thought was tacky, and ironic.

The waiter mistakenly quoted the white tuna for mackerel. Get it straight people.

Cod came dripping in soy sauce, and did NOT come with a side of rice! We ordered a side of rice (major faux pas), and when we got the check, we saw that it was $5. Isn't that crazy? The Morimoto gods were loathsomely punishing us for wanting our carbs!!!

We were curious and got a bottle of the Morimoto pilsner. It's brewed in Oregon with "free range coastal water" (whatever that is, it means they are allowed to charge us $25 for a bottle) by a company called Rogue Ales. It was nice though, I liked it-- if nothing else, we got to keep the bottle.

Best part? I found this piece of mold on the plastic bag that came to put the bottle in. Isn't it sort of pretty? It looks like a little nugget of pot.

Food/ Drink, VEGAS Factor, **** (The sushi itself wasn't all bad, but both dishes were pretty forgettable. Pretty on par with what you would expect in Vegas, so it gets four stars)

Miscellaneous observations and questions asked throughout the meal:
- Music was one of those super cheesy chillout lounge soundtracks that you find in the dollar bins nowadays. The 90s are over, HELLO! And the volume was at an awkwardly loud volume.
- "Don't you think it's weird that all of the waitstaff are white?"
- Flies were buzzing all over the place. We were confused about that. Flies at Morimoto?
- Wait staff were all dressed in awesome outfits by Maria Cornejo. Yes, I asked.

Here is Matt's 2 cents about the Morimoto Vegas Experience (via chat):

Matt: - flies, really? i just paid $5 for this fucking rice

at least the spray of water up my ass was free

11:52 PM i wish i took a shit there

And there it is: $5 rice, but f
ree ass water, flies a buzzin, scatterings of mold, identity crisis interior, a pornstar bathroom, and a coked out bar room. Check please!

Morimoto Overall Vegas Factor: **** (one star taken out cause we're in New York, not really Vegas- although sometimes, I can't quite distinguish one from the other)


  • ちょっとこれって許せないね。
    this is really unforgivable…

    yoko on

  • “Free range coastal water” is my new favorite term! I feel so deprived drinking caged desert water!

    Leslie on

  • isn’t it ridic! being that presentation is so important in japanese cooking, it was sorely disappointing. and it’s Morimoto!!! it truly was vegas though. and the bathroom was hot. will i go again? prolly not.

    kayoko on

  • especially that poor eel turned over on its back…

    yoko on

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