Japanese-style haute cuisine at Morimoto
By Douglas Habecker Translated by Ann Lee
101, WenXin Rd, Sec 2
Hours: 11:30 am-2 pm,
Credit cards accepted.
10% service charge.
Morimoto owner Mr. Hung Chang-sen says his restaurant is all about providing the best in cuisine, service and ambiance to discerning epicures who know what they want, recognize quality and want to enjoy the best things in life. That is clear to anyone who walks into this exquisitely classy restaurant, prominently located along WenXin Road on the edge of the city's swanky Seventh Redevelopment Zone. An architect by training, the debonair Mr. Hung now ranks among Taichung's best-known Japanese restaurateurs, with the modern, Tokyo-style Morimoto complementing his equally popular traditional, Kyoto-style Sono restaurant across town.
Morimoto, open now for almost a year and a half, follows a standard that puts it in the same class as similar establishments in Tokyo, New York and elsewhere. The beautifully-presented dishes here are a delightful fusion of Japanese, French and other influences. Subdued, lounge-like ambiance abounds, whether you sit in the main dining area--which looks out onto the city's largest (100+ping) Japanese rock garden--at the sushi or teppanyaki bars, or one of the first or second floor private rooms.
The extensive menu includes set lunches (NT$650-1,100) and dinners (NT$780-980), which include appetizers, sashimi plate, daily special dish, seasonal salad, steamed rice or noodles, soup and dessert. However, Hung notes that 70% of diners opt for one of the six Chef Suggested Set Menu choices (NT$1,200-3,600)--decide what your price range is and the chef decides the rest as he prepares six to seven courses that change every month. This is where many of Morimoto's delights are found, like the appetizers I savored--a hot Japanese-style egg cup topped with fish roe and served abalone and strawberry slices, or the clams served with a black truffle sauce. Then there were the succulent American beef ribs, and Miso Codfish French Style (NT$280 a la carte), with the tender baked fish exuding a savory miso marinade. My fish soup was served in a heavy stone bowl lined with a paper holder that held the broth above a 300-degree heated slab of black rock. The perfect ending came with cool, sweet slices of melon and a big chewy, peanut-filled "mochi" glutinous rice dessert.
The menu has dozens of other items to savor, from mains like the Beef Sukiyaki, Soft Shell Crab, and Grilled Mackerel Jaw with Salt Pepper Dip, to a variety of appetizers (NT$280-480), sushi, hand rolls, hot pot (sukiyaki and shabu-shabu), and sashimi combinations. Mr. Hung notes that modern Tokyo cuisine results from that city's position as a leading crossroads for the world's best chefs. There is no doubt that Morimoto successfully has brought an unforgettably-delicious piece of that experience to Taichung.