A fter much hype and no small delay, the anticipated first Dubai restaurant from “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto has finally opened. Initially expected to launch in December 2017, we’ve had to wait another four months to find out the answer to the question on so many lips. Will it top established rivals to overnight become the city’s best Japanese restaurant?
The short answer? It’s going to take a while longer.
Indisputably ambitious, Morimoto is huge. Spread over multiple levels and outdoor terraces (with superb, city-spanning views), it’s a sprawling restaurant, featuring raw and teppanyaki bars in addition to sizeable regular dining areas.
We’re almost certain we’re over-ordering (in the name of research, of course), but are quickly assured it’s a perfect amount for two hungry diners.
Within minutes, a tuna pizza arrives. It’s beautiful, and its future on the table looks bleak.
A cracker-crisp base bearing an artistic arrangement of vivid red sashimi, chopped olives, raw slivers of jalapeño and onion, and a light anchovy aïoli, it’s demolished in less time than it took to arrive. It’s one of the best dishes we’ve eaten in the city – which only serves to underscore our disappointment with the rest of the meal.
Sickly sweet rock tempura (including a wasabi flavour) goes back untouched, while awkwardly sized and overly sticky California and soft shell crab rolls lack both flavour and refinement.
Of the two mains, the sea urchin carbonara (a house speciality, we’re told) fares best. It’s rich, creamy, unctuous and packed with edamame beans and veal pancetta, but not nearly enough of the spiny echinoderm to deserve its moniker.
The less said about the teeth-achingly sweet black cod, however, the better.
There’s clearly a pattern emerging. After a drink at the outdoor bar to take in the views, we almost vibrate out of the restaurant – on a sugar high, if not a culinary one.
Among Dubai’s upmarket Japanese restaurants, it has to be noted that Morimoto is fairly accessibly priced. But given its flavours are more fast-casual than fine dining, perhaps it should be.
The bill (for two) 1x tuna pizza Dhs88 1x rock tempura Dhs88 1x piece tuna sashimi Dhs25 1x piece salmon sashimi Dhs15 1x California rolls Dhs52 1x soft shell crab rolls Dhs60 1x black cod Dhs180 1x sea urchin carbonara Dhs98 1x duck confit fried rice Dhs40 1x large still water Dhs30 Total (incl service) Dhs676
The bottom line A slick spot with stunning views, but not quite the food anticipated.