Dish 32: Rock Shrimp Tempura at Morimoto, 7th and Chestnut, http://www.morimotorestaurant.com/
As Jeffers and I sat down Friday night in at a tiny table neatly situated on the side, at the center of the futuristic, modern-art space—not a dining room, the phrase doesn’t do it justice- Morimoto’s name reverberated in my head. MORI. MOTO. MORI. MOTO.
Many years ago, when Brian and I were so much younger that you might only recognize us by my fluffy hair and his goofy smile, he and I watched Iron Chef religiously. Morimoto came to a local kitchen supply store to do a demonstration, and we nearly lost it. We were among the chanting throng of believers in his massive audience. MORI. MOTO. MORI. MOTO.
But not until last night had I ever tasted any of his recipes; it wasn’t until Friday that I truly appreciated his status as an Iron Chef. Our meal at Morimoto was by far and away the most inventive, ingenious, classic, elegant –in the engineering sense of perfection and simplicity—and downright delicious meal I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
One of the guests at Jeffers’s dinner party said that food is great for one of two reasons: either it is life-altering, or it is familiar. Most of Morimoto’s menu falls into the first category. The rock shrimp tempura is not like any other tempura or shrimp dish that you will ever eat. I like to imagine that the shrimp lead a peaceful, easy life living on and around outcroppings of rock in the Caribbean, where the blue waters lap onto the beach day in and day out, and the crustacean’s inner peace makes it so tender.
The happy shrimps are fried in the lightest of batters and then wet down with a sweet sticky sauce, and the meat is so tender that it is like eating a sweet fried shell with a meltaway center. MORI. MOTO. MORI. MOTO. The chant rises in my ears.
We asked for the giant oyster with sea urchin and black bean sauce, which is on The List but not The Menu. The server was confused, as well as the manager and most of the kitchen staff, who took the time to give us The Eye from their fortified position behind the sushi counter.
(Perhaps you also have received The Eye from a sushi chef in one point in time. Scary, right? Have you ever gotten the eye from all six sushi chefs standing at the back of Morimoto? One more accomplishment, checked off the life list.)
Apparently the dish has not been on the menu for nearly a decade, and they do not even have giant oysters at the restaurant. However, because we are special and asked very nicely, said scary sushi chefs are ordering giant oysters and digging up the old recipe. For one night only. For two people only. Jeffers and I will be returning to Morimoto this Thursday for the giant oyster and sea urchin, and I can already feel the pounding against my eardrums: mori. moto. Mori. Moto. MORI. MOTO. MORI! MOTO!