Met up with my husband when he finished work on Thursday. A zippy trip through San Francisco and up to Napa landed us on-time for dinner reservations at Morimoto Napa. This is the only one of Masaharu Morimoto's restaurants that he owns without investors. Perhaps the chef will retire to Napa--not a bad idea.
Being our first time there (the restaurant opened back in August 2010), went with the variety of the Omakase. Omakase is Japanese for telling the chef "it's up to you"--i.e. chef's choice. Morimoto is a great chef with whom to leave your Japanese meal decision.
Started with the bluefin tuna tartare (toro). Using the metal spatula scooped the toro and added one of the six accompaniments, deliciously sustainable and beautiful.
Greater Amberjack (kanpachi) came next. It was ever so slightly cooked, virtually raw and very edible (this means something coming from someone not initially adventurous with sushi).
A temperately hot (melted butter with garlic over a candle) sauce served fondue-style called bagna cauda (an idea from northern Italy) arrived.
Based on the premise of being "steamed in a teacup," a chawan mushi egg custard with duck went down smoothly on the cold night.
We spoke with three tables on either side of us. One couple visited from San Diego, another from Seattle, the third from Oakland. The San Diego couple offered us free tasting coupons to Bounty Hunter. The Seattle couple swapped "good eats" stories. He strongly suggested the next time I visit my brother in Seattle to go to Paseo and order the pork sandwich. Really, all were simply adding to the boisterous atmosphere of Morimoto.
The palate cleanser of kombu green tea did very little but salt my palate a bit, though the presentation was cute.
Artistically, carefully created sushi laid out was the best tasting and formed sushi consumed. Next time at Morimoto I'll order simply the superb sushi. The soy sauce is made in-house.
Our main course of surf, turf and turf included lobster balanced with cream, beef and pork belly. The cream sauce for the lobster made something already wonderful over-the-top appetizing.
Dessert of frozen Japanese apricot ume and toasted rice mousse came with pomegranate sorbet and toasted rice bran shortbread. With the calorie count ratcheting up, didn't think it necessary to finish the half-spheres of frozen mousse. The restaurant mills their own rice, so instead of throwing out the rice bran, they use it well in the crisp shortbread.
Not sure when we'll be back to dine at Morimoto, so we ordered the donuts for dessert, too. They were quite a treat.
Our neighboring table couldn't finish their ice cream sandwiches, and offered us a taste. The trio included (left to right) dark chocolate with tangerine, peanut butter milk chocolate, and the girls' favorite kaffir lime with white chocolate sandwich.
Morimoto opening a restaurant in Napa saved us a flight to Philadelphia, PA. We've admired him from afar on Iron Chef Japan. It will be lovely to see him in his Napa restaurant in the future.