Morimoto Asia Impressions
My first experience at one of the new "Disney Springs" restaurants
When it comes to Disney vacations, eating is one of the most exciting and memorable experiences one will have. During my recent trip to Walt Disney World, I had reservations and dinner plans for many restaurants that I had not yet been to. Among these restaurants, none had me as excited as Morimoto Asia.
Morimoto Asia opened last Fall as one of the new additions to the recently reimagined Downtown Disney, now know as Disney Springs. My expectations were extremely high as I have heard nothing but praise for this restaurant over the past few months. Morimoto Asia is a Fine Dining Pan-Asian inspired restaurant and is the second concept created by recent Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.
I had dinner reservations for a party of two on a Friday night at 9:30. As someone with restaurant experience, I know this can be a busy time for restaurants so I walked in with the expectation that the place would be slammed and the staff would be busy. With that said, the place was moderately busy when I walked in. The hosts were extremely friendly and were able to find my reservation and have me seated right away. The restaurant looks absolutely beautiful from the inside. A bit pretentious when compared to the kinds of restaurants I prefer but nonetheless, a beautiful interior.
I waited about twenty seconds before a man started heading towards our table. I assumed he was our server but rather than greeting us, he just walked by and said, “They weren’t supposed to seat me.” It seemed as if he was saying it to us but I wasn't really sure. From there, we waited almost five minutes before another man came to our table and apologized for the wait. He said that there was a misunderstanding and that he would be taking care of us for the night. This was a poorly handled start but I was willing to let it go because he seemed very sincere and nice. He went over the menu and took our drink order. Shortly after, we put in an order of the Shumai. Everything came out at a reasonable time and both my Thai Tea and the Shumai were awesome. I was really satisfied at that point with the whole restaurant. Everything tasted great and the whole place seemed to run smoothly.
Then we ordered entrees. We got a Spicy Tuna sushi roll, an order of Chicken Pad Thai Noodles, and L.A. BBQ Kalbi. Our server explained that the way the restaurant worked was they bring food out as it is ready so some items may be out before others. We were just fine with that and assumed it meant that sushi would probably just come out when it was ready seeing as the sushi bar was separate from the kitchen. About eight minutes later the sushi hit the table. Again, good timing. The sushi was pretty good. They gave generous amounts of tuna meat in the roll and it was really good tuna. Unfortunately, the roll had poor presentation. There was more spicy motoyaki sauce on one side than the other and the rice proportions were off as well. These details really make or break how sushi tastes. The ingredients were good, but the roll was prepared lazily. Another downside to the sushi was that no one offered us any soy sauce to go with it. The shumai came with soy sauce so I assumed the sushi would as well. Maybe they just don’t serve their sushi with soy sauce but I’ll never know because no one was around to ask. By the time our server came back, the sushi was almost finished and we had already moved on to the kalbi.
The kalbi was the real highlight of the dinner. The meat was cooked perfectly and the sauce was fantastic. Even the kimchi was good and I am generally not a big fan of kimchi. The other member of my party asked decided that she would like some white rice with the kalbi but our server never came to check up on us. Thankfully, there was another server that I was able to pull aside for a minute. We asked him if he could let our server know that we needed some white rice. Our server still never came by but within two minutes, a bowl of steaming white rice was on the table. The white rice was actually pretty bad. For an Asian restaurant, you would expect the rice, above all, to be good but this rice was really disappointing. It didn't even stick together at all, making it a real pain to eat with chopsticks, the only utensils on the table as our server never offered forks and knives. At this point, I overheard the table to my left, who were being served by the same server we had, complaining about similar issues that they were also experiencing. They were very unhappy and one of them even said that they would never be back.
Our kalbi was almost gone when our server finally checked up on us. He asked how everything was and we asked him if the Pad Thai would be coming out soon. Immediately, that “I forgot to ring it in” look came on his face and he told us he would go and check on it. We watched him walk to the open kitchen and as he interacted with the chef, we saw the frustrated look emerge on his face. Our server came back and told us that the kitchen forgot to make the order (we are still convinced that our server forgot to put it in and then lied to us). We told him that it was really not a big deal and he can just take it off the check because the rest of the meal was pretty filling. Rather than offering some sort of compensation, or at the very least apologizing, he just said “oh, cool” and headed back to whatever he was doing.
By this point, every table in our server’s section was gone and his tables were all a mess. He went by and picked up all the checks off the tables and then went back to whatever he had been doing. The next time he came back, we told him we had finished and would like to see a dessert menu. He failed to pre buss our table and instead just got out the menu. We ordered our dessert (I still don’t know why we didn’t just get the check and leave) and then he finally cleaned up the table a bit. He even brought by dessert spoons and new napkins. After a fifteen minute wait for dessert, our Mochi Mochi finally arrived. It looked beautiful and tasted amazing. Frozen mango with annin tofu and fruit boba. The dessert was delicious and we finished it in record breaking time. Still, looking back now, I can’t believe it costed $16 for a dessert!
After we finished dessert, we stacked our plates together as a sign that we were all finished. Our server was about fifteen feet away from us doing something on the computer. We literally sat there for an additional fifteen minutes after we had finished, just waiting for our server to drop the check. Finally, he came by and asked how everything was. We just told him we needed the check. By now we were tired of playing nice and pretending he had done a good job. He got the check for us, still left all the dirty plates and spoons on the table, and walked away. A few minutes later he picked back up the check and finished cashing us out. When he came back, he gave us the generic, “have a good one” and walked away, STILL neglecting to take the dirty plates with him.
In the end I am left feeling conflicted about my experience at Morimoto Asia. I was so excited to get to eat there after all the praise it has received. I feel like I should go back again sometime and maybe I will have a far better experience with a different server. Even though the service was pretty mediocre, there were a few moments where our server did a decent job. The problem is that Morimoto Asia is way too expensive for there to be lazy experiences like that. When you have guests paying $16 for dessert, you better provide some good service along with it. As for the food, everything was almost perfect. The kitchen and bar especially really seemed to knock it out of the park (assuming the Pad Thai mistake was our server’s and not the kitchen’s). I’d be willing to give sushi another chance but this time our roll was average. At least the food is good. At the end of the day, we did experience some pretty impressive plates. I left pretty upset with the poor service and over priced menu but I cannot forget how good both the shumai and kalbi were.