It’s hard to believe, but Morimoto Asia turns two years old today! On opening night, September 29, 2015, Chef Masaharu Morimoto dazzled media and invited guests (including Chef Mickey Mouse) by expertly carving a 100-pound fresh tuna and turning it into an incredible signature sushi roll. I was lucky enough to be in attendance, and to this day, that’s still one of the best bites I’ve ever had.
I was thrilled that Chef Morimoto was in town earlier this week to attend the Disney Springs Party for the Senses at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and even more delighted that I had the chance to sit down with him to talk about Morimoto Asia and what’s next. Over the course of our chat, it was clear that he felt great pride to have a restaurant at Walt Disney World, in what he called “the most famous city in the world.” “Here,” he shared, “I have the opportunity to serve guests from everywhere. They come from all over. Nick Valenti (CEO of Patina Restaurant Group and Morimoto’s business partner) challenged me to get guests into Pan Asian cuisine, and not just sushi.” If you’ve visited the location, you’ll likely agree that he’s succeeded. I like to try new foods, and during my latest visit, I had one of Chef Morimoto’s signature dishes: Buri-Bop – a Korean style yellowtail rice bowl prepared tableside in a hot clay pot. Nearby, I saw kids as young as three years old sampling authentic Orange Chicken. Yes, kids are welcome here. In fact, Morimoto confessed that one of his greatest joys is “meeting kids who want to be the ‘Iron Chef,’ like me – what an honor.”
As for what’s next, I inquired about changes coming to the menu this fall. “It’s a secret,” he teased, “to be announced … you’ll have to come to the restaurant to check for yourself!” He doesn’t need to ask twice; with Morimoto’s focus on local ingredients, traditional favorites like Peking Duck, Dim Sum and Ramen always on the menu, and a new fall cocktail menu, I’m happy to oblige.
It’s no secret that Chef Morimoto is a huge Disney fan, so with time for one last question, I asked which Disney character is his favorite. “Mickey Mouse is #1. People love the mouse. And my wife and Mickey have the same birthday. But if I could meet anyone, anyone at all, it would be Walt Disney. He was a genius. He knew how to make people happy. He could please kids and adults. He could do anything.”
I have a feeling that many people would say the same of Chef Morimoto, a man with incredible culinary talent and an infectious smile. Happy two years to Morimoto Asia, and many more to come!
Have you had a chance to dine at Morimoto Asia? If so, let me know what you loved most in the comments below as I just may have to try it during my next dinner at the restaurant!