So not that the Philly board really needs anymore posts about Morimotos but hey, it was definitely a very interesting meal so Ill chime in.
First impressions, the décor: The year: 1988. Lt. Castillo has sent Crockett and Tubbs to a South Beach hotspot to nab a cokelord/restaurateur who does all his own decorating. Garish at worst. Cheesy at best. Sometimes, I like cheesy, so this worked for me. Sometimes I enjoy strangely phallic inverted teardrop shaped bulbs immovably anchored to the center of my table. You know those chairs they sell at Urban Outfitters made out of that fluorescent plastic that looks like it was plugged in its so bright? ALL their booths are made out of that unholy compound. Again, sometimes I dig cheese.
So, moving along. Mrs. Joypirate and I need some sauce to get things going. She goes for the mc2, a tasty mix of Midori, champagne and lime juice. A bit too sweet for me, but just right for the Mrs. Myself, I resolutely point to the first cocktail I see made with my beloved Hendricks gin. The kyuri martini is made w/Hendricks gin and yuzu juice. A tasty combo. The wifes lips curled back in horror when she tasted it as she pronounced it too strong. Shes not really a gin martini drinker so unless youre accustomed to the blindness-inducing potency of near-straight gin, you wont dig on this.
Appetizers abound. We get the steamed scallops, deliciously topped with caramelized shallots, scallions and ginger (ginger was barely noticeable, by the way). These were a hit with the wife. Her usual bird-like eating habits were brushed aside as, for once, she ate more than half of the appetizer we had agreed to split evenly. Gallant dude that I am, I acquiesced. We also got the Morimoto tempura and it was kinda boring. It was tempura-style baby carrots (true baby carrots mind you, not those unnatural abominations you see in supermarkets), Japanese pumpkins, zucchini, oyster mushrooms, shrimp, and eggplant. There was something else in there that was really potato-y but couldnt really place it, might have been taro. Whatever it was, it was the boring-est of the vegetables. All things were served over a sea of melted Gorgonzola. Some ponzu sauce would have been nice, or any sort of series of sauces, instead we were just stuck with some pretty boring fried vegetables (not oily though, tempura was done correctly in that respect). My favorite was probably the zucchini because it was underdone enough that you could still really get its taste in combination with the crisp outside. Not so with most of the rest.
For dinner I get a disappointing glass of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (St. Clair I believe). I was hoping that something really steely and flinty would hold up to the food but this glass was too acidic and fruity. Not a big deal though. I also picked my wine before my meal so I didnt match it at all.
For dinner I had the surf & turf. Kobe beef w/rock shrimp. The beef was way too heavily sauced. I mean, come on, I want to taste the beef. This magical beefs flavor was compromised by too much sauce. Make no mistake, it still SUNG in my mouth, but it could have SANG louder. It had some chives and such over top for good measure and it was fork-tender, and yes, it melted in my mouth. The wife was impressed with how tender it was to which I countered, Baby, give me a pot roast and a crock pot and I can make any cut of meat that tender. Oddly, she was neither impressed with my boast, nor convinced I actually could do it. Ahh well. The rock shrimp had a bit of a crisp shell to it, couldnt really place what it was (wasnt the original shell, something thinner). It was drizzled with a tasty wasabi aioli. Wife isnt normally a shrimp fan but she really dug these, a good sign. Wife got two rolls of sushi for her entrée (each is cut into six pieces by the way). She got the spicy tuna and the yellowtail scallion. The tuna in the spicy tuna was blood-red and delicious. It too sung. Actually, this little $8 order of six pieces of sushi might have been the best tasting thing all night. It was made pretty much the same way spicy tuna rolls are made in any supermarket with the ingredients and preparation really being the difference (that, and there was a nice touch of black sesame seeds around the rice). Generous hunks of uber-fresh tuna really brought this home. The yellowtail was mighty tasty too. Nothing too remarkable, just well made and again a steal at $8 for a roll sliced into six slightly above-average sized pieces.
For dessert we split the pot de crème. It came with espresso foam (menu said kahlua cream) over bittersweet chocolate custard. Good amaretti cookies (just like she used to have in France wife said) and a little tuile-thing w/cocoa bean nibs inside. Very tasty but didnt knock our socks off. I rounded out the meal with a glass of Calvados (Busnel) that really hit the spot. Im a sucker for a good glass of smooth Calvados and Im always doing my part to help launch it closer to its rightful place in the digestif pantheon of the United States.
KO, I asked about the tasting menu but she had no specifics for me. She did confirm other reports that the courses really depend on whether or not the kitchen is informed youve had the Omakase before. If you havent, they have several signature items they like to send out, like the kobe beef and the sashimi salad. If you have had it before, they might whip out the weird stuff (think bonito flake sorbet or something of comparable wackiness). Of the 3 price points youll always get 7-8 courses but ingredients will vary. Youll get the foie gras and lobster at the more expensive ends (presumably the caviar stuff too). Regardless of price point, they always mix it up between raw, seared and cooked and try not to give you things cooked (or uncooked) the same way twice in a row. I asked if there were any ingredients hes using a lot this week (I dunno, maybe they just got in a boat load of pico roco or something?), but my server didnt know. A table next to me was doing it and I only noticed one course of some tasty looking toro sashimi in a martini glass.
The biggest surprise for me was the price. It would be very easy to get out of here for under $60 for two people w/out drinks if you just stuck to some well-made sushi. Sure, you can also walk out $350 poorer but I didnt realize ahead of time that a fine meal could be had so reasonably here. A guy at the table across from us had ordered 4 rolls of sushi and had more than enough food and his bill alone would probably only end up to be around $30. The sushi rolls were between $6.50 and $12 w/most around $8 (w/the toro being M.P.). Get a couple of rolls of sushi and a Kirin and you get a great meal and make out like a bandit. Our bill came out to $143 before tip but then again, I also splurged (and got the crazy eye from the wife) on a $13 glass of Calvados and things like that. It can be done cheaper while sacrificing little of the experience.
Service was great. Ran into a coat check tip conundrum. At first, a manager-type person handed us our coats so we plunged our money back in our pockets not wanting to offend, then, the rest of our belongings were retrieved by the girl who had taken them in the first place, but alas, our money was already put away! Emily Post would be rolling over in her grave (not sure if shes dead, actually). So, like two unsophisticated oafs we retreated into the cold night.