Omakase Dinner with Iron Chef Morimoto is a Bucket List Experience
Is attending an omakase style “Momokase” dinner with famed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto on your foodie bucket list? It was on mine and many other foodie’s bucket lists ever since Morimoto Asia restaurant opened at Disney Springs in 2015. I finally checked it off my list in December 2019. If you’re curious about this Epic Meal Experience, here’s a full recap. Warning: Lots of drool worthy photos ahead. You Will Be Hungry!
In honor of the restaurant’s 5th Anniversary on September 30th, 2020, I’m looking back and reminiscing about this unforgettable meal. One I highly recommend you add to your list!
What is The Omakase Dinner at Morimoto Asia?
According to the Morimoto Asia website, their omakase dinners are a “culinary adventure unlike any other.” And, I agree!
It’s an evening full of surprises.
Omakase is Japanese for “to entrust.” The multi-course dinner is created at the chef’s whim. You don’t know what the menu will be until it’s in front of you.
At Morimoto Asia, we were presented with menus at the start of the dinner. It was nice to be able to follow along as each bite and dish was masterfully presented. In most omakase experiences, you may not get a menu but instead the chef surprises you along they way. Truly an experience for the adventurous diner with little to no dietary restrictions.
The experience at Morimoto Asia features the freshest fish from Japan plus a variety of other specialty ingredients that are reserved for a one of a kind unique meal.
Seated at the sushi bar, we watched the case filled with fresh fish trays being depleted as the night progressed.
The team of expert chefs, led by Morimoto Asia Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinaga, creates the menu, presents and serves each course directly to each diner making it a very intimate and highly pampered service experience.
What is a “Momokase” Dinner at Morimoto Asia?
When in town, Chef Morimoto himself will often preside over these omakase dinners. He calls them “Momokase” because, why not? His name is a big draw!
He’s a fantastic host and of course the dinner takes on a different feel. You’re watching the Iron Chef doing what he does best. Not on TV but in person! Preparing the most exquisite and delicious works of culinary art. He claims “sushi is not art”, but I disagree. He’s meticulous. Focused. But he’s also incredibly entertaining.
He’s known for being a sushi master and for his legendary knife skills but his specialty is omotenashi. He is Japanese hospitality with style personified. He loves surprising guests who thrill at seeing him behind the sushi counter.
The guest to my left at the 14 seat sushi bar was a very lucky little boy who was glued to his tablet all night. Completely oblivious that a legendary, award-winning, world famous chef was personally handing him pieces of “no-wasabi” sushi to accommodate his young palate. Each time chef made a joke. We laughed. And the little one didn’t notice. Maybe one day, his parents will tell him how lucky he was.
Me on the other hand, I was soaking it all in. Completely captivated with the action behind the sushi bar. Not wanting to miss a single minute of this one of a kind, and probably, once in a lifetime, experience.
When it’s Chef Morimoto himself personally preparing delicate bites of nigiri sushi and handing them to you, it’s the most delicious thrill.
How Many Courses is the Momokase or Omakase Dinner?
During an Omakase dinner at Morimoto Asia you get to enjoy multiple courses, usually 5 to 7. However, each course may consist of multiple components. In the end, you may have 20 plus bites to sample. It’s a feast!
Course #1: Hassun / Zensai
The first course was a box of goodies representative of the menu at Morimoto’s newest restaurant in Kyoto. The wooden box included the following items in order from top left:
- Kukumono Oyster topped with seared Foie Gras and sweet soy
- Sawara (Japanese Spanish mackerel) served tataki style with an escabeche of shallots
- Shirauo (Japanese icefish) in a Tosazu Vinegar Gelee topped with Umibudo (sea grape)
- Kawahagi (Japanese tilefish) Kimo-Jyoyu with edible flower
- Kegani Kani Miso
- Seasonal Ankimo (monk fish liver) brulee style with Yuzu citrus marmalade
- A5 Wagyu Yukke with Quail Egg
- Kinki thorny head fish with Perigueux sauce
The first course was paired with a refreshing Sparkling Sake Cocktail made of Morimoto Junmai, Amaro Montenegro, honey, fresh lemon and Chandon Etoile. It was perfect to match the richness of flavors of these various 8 bites.
Momokase Course #2: Kisetsumono
The second course was the soup course. It was a lovely warm broth of Matsutake pine mushrooms served steamed in a tea pot called “Matsutake Dobin Mushi” with Abalone and Chicken.
As an added seasonal touch from Florida, Chef Yuhi served it with a fresh Key Lime. He instructed us to taste the broth first. Then, squeeze the lime to make the flavors pop.
This course was paired with Morimoto Junmai daiginjo. A crisp sake with notes of honeysuckle and melon.
Momokase Course #3: Sushi
The third course was the one I anticipated most. To taste sushi masterfully prepared by Chef Morimoto himself was a dream.
The printed menu stated “five pieces of Nigiri and one Makimono selected by Chef Morimoto”. We received a bit more… each piece being placed in our hands by Chef Morimoto himself. That was a bit surreal. The coolest part of the dinner for fans like us!
And remember, when sushi is expertly prepared, there’s no need for wasabi or soy sauce. One of the many things I learned when I interviewed Chef Morimoto a few years ago for a “pinch me” moment cover article for Signature Magazine.
The fish is perfectly seasoned with the amount of fresh wasabi appropriate for each type of fish, taking into consideration the fattiness and flavor.
Here’s photos of each piece we received, one at a time, during the sushi course. Each bite better than the one before.
Sushi is a Finger Food?
While chopsticks are provided, Chef Morimoto advises to use your hands instead to enjoy each piece of nigiri, usually in one bite. I realized I’ve been eating sushi wrong all my life.
“Sushi is a finger food.”Chef Masaharu Morimoto
He recommends using a wet towel when the rice makes your fingers sticky.
Never Say You Don’t Like a Certain Food to Chef Morimoto. Unless You’re Giving Him a Challenge.
Biting into that uni nigiri reminded me of something Chef Morimoto told me many years ago. “When someone says they don’t like a certain food, it just means they don’t like the way they’ve had it prepared before.”
He takes it as a challenge for him to prepare it in a way you would enjoy.
Chef, I can say you succeeded! I will never say I don’t like uni again!
Is there an order to how dishes are presented?
The order for each course and each piece of sushi served is meticulously thought out. The flavors and textures are in harmony, not to overwhelm your palate. The dinner ebbs and flows, builds to a crescendo and wonderfully concludes. Success for the chefs is that at no time do you feel like you’ve had too much.
Palate cleansers are part of the menu.
Course #4: Nimono
The fourth course was the braissed course. By this point I would have been completely satisfied to call the meal a resounding success. But it was too good to stop.
We devoured the tender Tennen Buri Nitsuke – Japanese yellowtail braised in a sake and soy sauce. This dish was an homage to Chef Morimoto’s Buri Bop, his signature winning dish on Iron Chef.
The fatty fish was served with local daikon from Frog Song Organics. Pickled radish and breakfast radish with kinome, a fragrant Japanese herb with citrus peppery notes. Absolutely masterful!
It paired nicely with Landmark Vineyards Overlook 2016 Pinot Noir from Sonoma, California.
Course #5: Agemono
The fifth course was the Agemono or Fried Course. The sweet Madagascar Shrimp & Matsutake Mushroom were perfectly crisp fried in a light tempura. Served with agedashi sauce and fresh grated daikon radish. The sweet shrimp was fantastic!
Did you know Portuguese Jesuit missionaries introduced the recipe for tempura to Japan in the sixteenth century, around 1549?
Paired with a surprisingly refreshing Kikori Japanese whiskey and soda highball, served in a frosted glass.
Momokase Course #6: Yakimono
The grilled course offered Maguro Kama, tuna collar and A5 Wagyu “Surf N Turf” Tacos with Asian chimichurri, Goochujang sauce, cucumber, shiso and flour tortillas.
My reaction here was: “What!?”
Build your own tacos taken to the next level. Such a fun presentation!
Paired with Nieto Senetiner, a 2015 Red Blend from Argentina.
Course #7: Dessert
To end the night with a fluffy Japanese style souffle cheesecake was perfection.
I appreciate how Chef Yuhi weaves fresh local Florida flavors with the Japanese imports.
The cheesecake was served with local Plant City strawberry compote and orange blossom honey gelato artfully presented over toasted coconut.
For the final pairing we were treated to a rare flight of Morimoto aged sake. Koshu 5 year Ishikawa, Koshu 10 year Ishikawa and Koshu 30 year Ishikawa. I’ve never had sake as “dessert wine” and all I could say is “Wow!”
How do you get a reservation for “Momokase” Omakase Dinner at Morimoto Asia?
With only 14 seats available at the sushi bar, getting a reservation for a “Momokase” omakase dinner event with Chef Morimoto is tough.
The “Momokase” experience had been on our bucket list ever since they started doing these dinners. Chef Morimoto usually visits the restaurant each quarter and every time he hosted these dinners, they quickly sold out.
My hubby and I, determined to check it off the list, stalked the restaurant’s social media. Once we saw Chef Morimoto was going to be in town for another event, we called and got asked to be on the waitlist. Just in case he decided to host. He doesn’t do these dinners on every visit and repeat guests usually get first dibs.
This time we got in! And it was worth every penny. With only one of us having the beverage pairing, it was over $600 for two.
How Do You Reserve An Omakase Dinner at Morimoto Asia?
“Momokase” is a special event with Chef Morimoto, however the Omakase dinner experience can be reserved any time. With 48 hours advance notice. Omakase dining at Morimoto Asia is available from 6 pm to 9 pm nightly. check here for more information.
Cost for the omakase experience (food only) is currently listed as $250 per person. A $125 deposit per person is required at the time of booking. The Morimoto Asia team can recommend optional beverage pairings (Japanese beer or sake) for an additional charge. I highly recommend this enhancement.
You must indicate any food allergies, diet or other restrictions at the time of booking. But I warn you, this experience is for adventurous diners. Picky eaters may have their taste buds challenged.
We’re planning to return for omakase with Executive Chef Yuhi and Sushi Chef Alex soon.
“Momokase” and Omakase at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs is a Must Do Experience for any foodie. If you happen to get lucky and Chef Morimoto himself presides. You’ll be even more thrilled.
Here’s some Story Highlights of the night.
I hope you’re inspired to continue to celebrate life and cross fun things off your someday list – while following all safety precautions during these stressful times. Schedule fun! Put it on your calendar. Go #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip a time.