My best friend completed his PhD in Physics a couple years ago and we have been meaning to celebrate with a trip to a great culinary landscape for sometime. We are both foodies and wine lovers hence we decided to meet in Napa on 4th of July weekend and it was definitely worth the wait. The wine region of Napa and Sonoma is very special to me as I started going there since my 21st birthday. The wine country has many great restos and it’s definitely growing especially neighboring towns such as Healdsburg (one of my favs). I was reading the Wine Enthusiast magazine about the changing landscape of Downtown Napa and noticed that Iron Chef Morimoto opened up the first restaurant on the west coast in 2010. I am a fan of the Iron Chef and I definitely had to check out his dining establishment first in Downtown Napa.
Morimoto Napa is located right in the middle of the new Riverfront complex on Main St. It has a very sleek and open feel to the restaurant with tall ceilings and minimalist design. There is an open kitchen which is great as you can see how the chef’s prepare the dishes and if your lucky you may even spot Iron Chef Morimoto in the action. Interestingly, before he became a chef he was going to be drafted to a major league in Japan, but ended his career because of an arm injury. Nevertheless, he has created a successful career for himself in the culinary world.
The menu had so many innovative dishes from the cold and hot appetizer categories. All their raw fish and other seafood dishes are sourced from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. We decided to try a couple dishes from the hot appetizer section. I first tried the Morimoto bone marrow…with teriyaki sauce, 5 spices(cayenne, chili pepper, cumin coriander, paprika) topped with caramelized onion and panko which was roasted…Yum! A nice touch was the Meyer lemons – add a splash and the fruit acidity cuts the richness of the bone marrow perfectly.
Morimoto bone marrow - Morimoto Napa
I am a major fan of seafood and tried the grilled spicy king crab with tobanjan aioli, and micro cilantro….very creative and delectable. I initially thought the king crab was in its shell, but it was camoflaged with the creamy tobanjan to give it its red vivid color…very clever indeed. The term tobanjan is a spicy miso paste that is very versatile especially for that added kick.
Spicy King Crab - Morimoto Napa
As you probably know by now how much of a foie gras fan I am, I wouldn’t pass up on the oyster foie gras with market oysters, uni, foie gras, and teriyaki sauce….great balance of sweet and saltiness. I am personally a fan of caviar sushi and the uni added a nice balance of sweetness to the oysters.
Oyster Foie Gras - Morimoto Napa
Lastly, you cannot go wrong with great dessert to end your night of wine hopping in Napa. I love anything rhubarb and the strawberry rhubarb tart with thai basil sauce and a strawberry jasmine milkshake…very tasty and refreshing!
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart - Morimoto Napa
I needed a balance of desserts from light to rich. The miso butterscotch pudding with bitter chocolate foam and black tea caramel was perfect! Great contrasting yet balanced flavors of sweet from the butterscotch and saltiness from the caramel.
- Miso Butterscotch Pudding – Morimoto Napa
Morimoto has an excellent selection of innovative cocktails. The white lilly – shirayuri which comprises of calpico, shochu, yuzu juice, and lemon juice was very tasty! The term Yuzu is a citris fruit that is very tart. Shochu is a distilled spirit. The difference between sake and shochu is that sake is brewed while shochu is distilled. Shochu has more of an earthy and nutty taste. If you are a bloody mary fan, the “bloody mary-moto” has an innovative twist of grey goose orange vodka, heirloom tomato, teriyaki, wasabi, and pickled peppers. Also, they sell shochu, premium, and aged sake. Their most expensive sake is the “Morimoto 1972″ which has spiced pumpkin and citris oil aromas with a tropical fruit finish…..priced at $504 for a bottle (500ml). Overall, I enjoyed the innovative dishes at Morimoto in Napa. This would have to be one of the best Japanese restaurants that I’ve had in awhile by far. If you ever get the chance to visit Napa, definitely check out the Morimoto restaurant. Enjoy everyone!
Address: 610 Main St., Napa, CA 94559
Hours: Sun-Thurs 5-10pm, Fri-Sat 5-11pm
Contact: 707 252-1600