Iron Chef of Napa
Morimoto in Napa, California
You have most likely heard the name Chef Morimoto if you have ever watched the cooking network. Chef Morimoto is an iron chef, (known originally from the show “Iron Chef”), and was from the original cast originating in Japan. Now Chef Morimoto is more than just a television chef, he is an entrepreneur and restauranteur. WIth over 15q restaurants all over the world, he knows what he is doing. Each of his restaurants is classic Japanese cuisine. The menus do not go easy on the wallet, but they always consist of high-quality fish and amazing flavors.
Named simply as Morimoto, this location of the chef’s namesake is located right in downtown Napa, California. Whether you are looking for classic sushi, or something a bit more interesting like a tableside stone pot, you can find it at Morimoto.
The restaurant is elegant and welcomes you in with a beautiful foyer. As you walk past the open kitchen into the grand dining room, you can choose either indoor seating at the bar or outdoor seat.
I would definitely consider Morimoto to be the best sushi in Napa, and very comparable to restaurants in San Francisco. Although it is a chain, this location has been around for many years and it does not feel commercialized at all. It is important to make a reservation if you want to dine on the weekend.
My Favorite Part of the Meal
Getting started with appetizers is always one of my favorite parts of the meal. If you like carpaccio then you can’t go wrong with the white fish that has a dash of spicy oil. If you want to be a bit more experimental, try the wagyu beef carpaccio with a drizzle of housemade yuzu soy, and sweet garlic to complement the tangy flavor.
The rock shrimp tempura is a hot appetizer that comes with two different sides, the wasabi side and the gochujang sauce (Korean hot sauce). Try both flavors and then combine them, they complement each other well! Use your chopsticks to avoid getting your fingers dirty.
Tacos and Pizza?
There are also two different types of “tacos” either hamachi (yellowtail) or tuna. They come with three so don’t be shy to ask for a fourth if you have an even number of people. Another option instead of the tacos is the tuna pizza. It is a big tempura crispy rice ball on the bottom as the dough, and then it’s loaded with anchovy aioli for a fishy flavor, olives, spicy jalapeños for a small kick, and, of course, tuna. This is really a treat but it can fill you up so sometimes better to go with the tacos.
Sirved must try:
- Meat lovers: Check out the Kakuni, which is a rice congee (soup) along with en-hour pork belly and soy-scallion jus. You can also try the sticky pork ribs with spicy tamarind glaze, they are incredible.
- Tuna tartar: If you like tuna tartar then you will love this display. It is completely different than other forms of tartar I have had. It is beautifully displayed with high-quality toro, wasabi, popped rice, sour cream, caviar, and avocado mousse.
- My fav appetizers: Rock shrimp tempura, tuna tacos, grilled kama (fish collar)
- Miso soup: Who doesn’t love miso soup? It is made in the traditional Japanese style, with white miso broth and housemade tofu.
- The holy grail: Explained below!
The Holy Grail
I have visited Morimoto many times but never saw this on the menu, probably because I stuck to appetizers. This is now my absolute favorite dish on the menu. It is a tableside prepared spin on bibimbap. Bibimbap is a Korean dish with pickled vegetables over rice, gojuchang (red pepper) sauce, and either tofu or some type of meat.
The dish at Morimoto is a bit different, and I call this the holy grail because a sizzling dish comes out with incredible smells. There is rice and picked veggies already in the bowl, but on the side is sushi-grade hamachi. At your table, the server will cook the hamachi on the stone pot to your liking. They mix in aged, house-made soy sauce, and cook it to perfection.
Finishing the Meal
You can never go wrong with a meal at Morimoto. It is truly one of the best restaurants in Napa, especially if you like Japanese food. Finish your meal off with a tableside s’more, and go home full, happy, and craving the holy grail tomorrow.