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Blending a marriage of flavours

Blending a marriage of flavours

FRIDAY, August 26, 2016

New Morimoto Bangkok brings together tradition and local culture

MORIMOTO BANGKOK has added to the excitement of the city’s vibrant dining scene. The restaurant, which opened earlier this month at MahaNakhon Cube building, has been brought to Thailand by the entrepreneur Pranitan Phornprapha who also co-owns the sushi restaurant Sushi Den.
Morimoto by Masaharu Morimoto – a star of Japan and American’s Iron Chef TV programme – is known for combining the culinary traditions of his native Japan with multicultural influences. He has opened Morimoto restaurants in Philadelphia, New York, California, Honolulu, Mexico, Hawaii and Japan along with the sister brands Wasabi in Mumbai and New Delhi and Sushi Bar in Florida.
Situated on the building’s fourth floor, the glass-wrapped, 165-seat restaurant offers a woodsy dining room, a bar, a sushi bar and a private dining room for 12 people.
On the restaurant’s opening day, Morimoto said, “I met with Pete (Pranitan Phornprapha) three years ago and we have had a good relationship together since then. I also love Thailand, so I decided to be a partner with Pete to open Morimoto Bangkok. Moreover, it’s also about the timing and this is just the right time to open here. It is like a marriage, you need to know who you will share your life with.
“Actually, there aren’t a lot of differences between Morimoto Bangkok and other Morimoto restaurants. Morimoto restaurants have the same global standard. I try to keep the standard in every restaurant along with my philosophy and approach but the differences are rather the design and the signature dishes which have been created with local ingredients to balance the palate of the diners in that country.”
I visited the restaurant recently with high expectations due to its high profile but I found that the hospitality wasn’t quite up to standard. The staff was not knowledgeable enough about the food to answer my questions which made my first experience unfavourable.
Morimoto points out that the signature dishes of Morimoto Bangkok will be the same as his other restaurants but the difference is in the taste and ingredients. For example, Chicken Noodle Soup (Bt240) might be served with udon noodles in clear chicken stock at other restaurants, but in Bangkok Thai rice noodles are used in chicken broth with slices of chicken breast, Thai sweet basil leaves, onions and chopped scallion.
Roasted Lobster Epice (Bt1,200) is a revised version of the famous Thai dish pad thai. The rice noodles are stir-fried with Indian spices of garam masala, mushrooms, egg, green pea and served with half roasted lobster together with a separate creamer filled with red curry sauce. The taste may be a bit unusual for anyone familiar with authentic pad thai and I personally found it too salty.
“Each country has its own palate. I introduce dishes that utilise local ingredients and flavours of the locals. I have used Thai chilli as an ingredient and I am still exploring the local ingredients to adjust the dishes. For example, at Morimoto Bangkok there is a Tom Yum Kung type of dish but in my own style,” said Morimoto.
Diners can try the signature dishes that helped make his career. Among the popular cold appetisers is Tuna Pizza (Bt390) offering crispy thin flour tortilla topped with tuna sashimi, jalapeno, red onions, Kalamata olives, cherry tomato, green chilli, micro cilantro and garnished with anchovy aioli. 
For a hot starter, try the Japan-meets-Korea dish – Rock Shrimp Tempura (Bt320). The batter-fried rock shrimps are dressed with two different sauces – wasabi aioli and spicy gochujang aioli – and served with ranch dressing and celery sticks.
Next up is Wagyu Beef Carpaccio (Bt750) featuring thin slices of wagyu beef ladled with piping hot sesame olive oil and dressed with yuzu soy, chopped ginger, mitsuba (Japanese parsley) and micro cilantro. Chasu Pork Salad (Bt320) has braised pork shoulder rolls with thin slices of cucumber, romaine and garnished with garlic chilli oil.
Braised Black Cod (Bt690) is popular. The Alaskan cod fillet is perfectly braised in ginger soy and topped with julienne ginger while on the side is kuromame or sweet black soybeans that the Japanese traditionally eat on New Year in the belief that it will bring good luck.
Morimoto’s version of popular Korean dish of bibimbap is Ishi Yaki Buri Bop (Bt590). A hot stone bowl of rice is topped with zenmai (edible fern), spinach, yellowtail fillets, pickled daikon and carrot, raw yolk and crispy seaweed and the meal is cooked at the table. When the fillets are cooked, staff will mix all ingredients thoroughly to harmonise the contrasting tastes and a dribble of bop sauce is added for flavour. 
For drinks, Morimoto has his own brewed sake and beer like draft soba ale and imperial pilsner together with an extensive list of cocktails like Ringo (Bt420) – a concoction of rye, apple, cinnamon and ginger ale – and Rakkasei (Bt290), a mix of bourbon, peanut butter, nutmeg and vanilla ice cream.
When asked if his reputation as an Iron Chef will help make the restaurant successful, Morimoto said, “I agree that becoming an Iron Chef effectively positioned me as one of today’s foremost chefs but I also have to handle the stress and pressure from people. Customers expect that the dishes made by the Iron Chef must be better, so becoming the Iron Chef has both pros and cons.”
For me, it was not the food thatwas disappointing, but the hospitality.
>> Morimoto Bangkok is on the fourth floor of the MahaNakhon Cube Building on Narathiwas Rajanakarin Road. It’s adjacent to the Chong Nonsi BTS station.
>> It’s open daily for lunch, 11.30am to 2.30pm, and dinner starts at 6pm to 11pm on Sunday to Wednesday and continues to 1am on Thursday to Saturday.
>> Call (02) 060 9099 or the “MorimotoBangkok” page on Facebook.