As we were driving back from Gettysburg, I asked my father where he wanted to have dinner over the coming days. He usually has some concrete ideas, and they're usually places I've never heard of but enjoy. In this case, however, he had compiled a list but other than the Oyster House hadn't come up with any specific places as much as a theme of 'things I can't easily get in Tennessee.' On that list was good sushi, and because I had long wanted to try Morimoto that was my primary suggestion to him. So on Monday evening, that's just what we did. I met Dad there and we were promptly seated at one of the tables lining the restaurant. Morimoto is a high-concept kind of place. A Stephen Starr/celebrity chef vehicle that seems, at this point, a little dated in its decor. Colored lights changing from pink to green to blue along the space's aisles, neon green tables and white leather chairs bolted into the floor. On the night we were there the place wasn't too packed, so the effect of all this colored light nonsense (which made it seem like it was trying to be a club instead of a restaurant) had a slightly eery quality when compared to the relative lack of noise generated by the patrons or staff. I gravitated toward the cilantro gimlet and let me tell you. It was something special. A mix of Belvedere vodka, cilantro and mint; it managed to be refreshing without being too savory nor too tart. Just delightful. Though one will run you (or in my case, my father) $14. Pardon the color casts on the photos, the lighting was a challenge.
So we both opted for the omakase tasting menu. Dad got the higher price point while I got the lower, and that is also true for the beverage pairings as well. I don't know how this could have happened but I have no proof of the first course, which for me was hamachi tartare with fresh wasabi and osetra caviar paired with Domaine Chandon sparkling rose. Dad had pretty much the same dish but with toro tuna. Many of our courses were similar in that fashion, the main difference being the 'fanciness' of the fish or protein. Next up Dad had the Kumomoto oysters with three sauces: japanese orange salsa, citrus cilantro ceviche, and thai fish sauce with jalepneo. His oysters were paired with a Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc. I love Kumomotos and Dad was nice enough to give me one, though like the idiot I am I have forgoten which sauce it game with.
For my second course I received seared whitefish carpaccio seasoned with garlic, ginger, mitsuba and chives and then finished with a yuzu-citrus soy. This was paired with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. I go back and forth about how I feel about yuzu. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I'm indifferent. In this case I fell in the middle, but the fish was beautiful.
Next up was the sashimi salad. In this case I was given the tuna while Dad was given...shoot, some fish we really liked but isn't included in the menus they printed out for us to take home. This was the first dish to be paired with a sake (yuki no bosha 'a cabin in the snow' junmai - ginjo and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Branching out from house hot sake really is a touch and go process for me, as some sakes have very strong banana flavors that simply do not float my boat. In this case, however, my boat was floated.
After an intermezzo of raspberry lemon soda (delicious) we went on to our next course, which for my father was the Lobster Epice: Chef Morimot's eight spice lobster with citrus creme fraiche and fresh chives and paired with a Trimbach Riesling. I think we we were both a little less that amazed by this dish. It looked wonderful, and was certainly good...but the eight spice element...well, it was very reminiscent of Old Bay seasoning. The citrus creme fraiche, on the other hand, was quite a hit with my particular palate.
My next course was wok seared wild alaskan king salmon in an umami broth with spring vegetables, glazed shitakes and fava pesto. This was perfectly cooked and the pesto and broth did wonders as they made friends on my tongue. This was paired with a Joel Gott chardonnay.
Next up for Dad was braised Kobe short ribs with wasabi furikake crust, wasabi greens, red wine reduction, and pickled carrot and turnip, which came paired with a folie a deux cabernet sauvignon. Mmmm. Rich was the bite I had. Rich but so good. I feel like maybe Dad had good things about that wine, but I could be making that up.
For my next course I encountered roasted Peking duck breast with kimchee, white miso vegetables, scallion pancake and candied kombu. I liked the clash of cultures this dish represented, the kim chi was an especially nice touch. This went down all the more smoothly with a Napa Cellars pinot noir.
Our second to final course was a chef's selection of sushi. I wish I could tell you that I remember what everything was. But I think the standout might have been the amberjack. This was also a sake pairing course, so I had the Shichi Hon Yar 'Seven Spearsmen' Junmai.
And finally, dessert: Gingner peach cheesecake with graham cracker crust, peach puree and rasberry something. This was good, but not particularly memorable.
While the decor was a little weird, the service was good and the food excellent. There were many things on the a la carte menu that I'd consider if I were to return, from the ramen to simply more sushi. Though I really am beginning to feel bad about the whole 'we are literally killing all the fish in the ocean' thing that's happening these days. A big thanks goes to my father for the dinner and company!