The most memorable meal of my life to date was not just memorable due to the nostalgia factor of the time I first fell in love with food and the expertise involved in creating works of edible art, but in the simple tastes themselves. When I walked the streets of Philadelphia trying to find Morimoto, we passed it. Twice. The elusive nature of the building itself was replicated in my ability to discern ingredient from exotic, beautifully curated ingredient when we finally were served our first plate of food.
It was an Iron Chef dream come true.
The chilled, perfectly textured tuna tartare with a crunchy element of puffed rice that was perfectly light and crispy and the most delicate dollop of caviar and gold leaf was a perfect appetizer in every sense of the word. The lovely saltiness of the roe, the complexity of the perfectly prepared fish, and the surprise of the texture was my dream realized in a single bite.
Next out was a potato vichyssoise with uni. The soup was delicious, and the delicate flavor of the uni definitely enhanced this dish. Although not an uni fan as a general rule, I thought this use was thoughtful and unexpected.
Quick seared SnapJack tuna sashimi, lobster aioli, heirloom tomato and delightfully crispy bonito flakes. Absolutely stunning. The aioli was so rich and delicious, and the tomato added the perfect brightness.
Next was the sashimi assortment, beautifully plated and artfully selected. Each had a unique treatment and marinade. I particularly liked the lemon zest with the hamachi (bottom left).
Tofu has never tasted so good.
This was my singular most memorable and delicious bite of the entire meal, and I'm not categorically a tofu super fan. It was just that good. The dashi that it was marinated in was so insane delicious I could have bathed in it, and the tiny piece of plum on top provided a delicate contrast.
Then, I ate this little guy. Whole. That tripped out my normally adventurous palate, but it was great! Crunchy and tasted like crabby popcorn. I'd do it again.
The nigiri was perfection. Buttery, fresh and on point. Simple and delicious. The shiso leaf was a nice touch. Not real wasabi, which was somewhat disappointing, but still, great quality fish doesn't really need any. Pristine.
Compressed plum, seaweed, shiso and foie gras with yuzu foam. Not memorable, but very good.
This was the one and only problem dish. I absolutely loved the presentation and the dashi with the lobster claw, but the tail portion was not cleaned properly. It muddied the whole dish. It was so bad I had to send it back, and when asked if I wanted it prepared again, I declined. It had just ruined my appetite. I opted for another couple pieces of Otoro instead, which was the preferred alternative.
The palate cleanser was a cucumber and lemongrass broth with a tiny shiso leaf suspended in gelatin. Very special and a soft, sweet, savory balance.
The Wagyu with peanut saucem roasted vegetables and crispy peanuts... OH MY GOD. I could have eaten this all night.
A lovely finale was the blueberry cheesecake and lavender "bubbles" - spherical gel scented with lavender. The green tea crumble crust, blueberry and green tea sauces had a yin and yang quality. The earthy yet sweet tea sauce and the bright, tart blueberries kept things interesting as you switched back and forth.
Overall, I give my Morimoto experience an 8 out of 10. Despite the slight snafu with the uncleaned lobster in the dashi, it was a strong contender as one of the best meals of my life. The ten year old girl watching Iron Chef in me was absolutely thrilled that her dreams didn't die here.