Morimoto Asia is the place to go if you’re hungry for some Asian food with flair! One of the newest restaurants at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), Morimoto Asia is the creation of superstar chef Masaharu Morimoto in conjunction with the Patina Group (who has given us other Disney resort favorites like Uva Bar in Anaheim). Chef Morimoto, famous for his culinary take on Asian cuisine, is probably best known for his starring role as one of the chefs on Iron Chef and then later Iron Chef America. According to the Disney Parks Blog, this is the first pan-Asian restaurant for the Iron Chef – and it’s a winner!
Location: Disney Springs
Type: Table service
Specialty: Asian fusion cuisine
Cost: $12 for the kids menu (includes boba tea, entree, and dessert), $20-48 for entrees
Craig’s Favorite: Everything was so delicious, but I have to give it up for the Kakuni Pork Bao
I’ve been a big fan of Chef Morimoto for a long time and have been dazzled at his take on ingredients. He knows how to turn simple items into complex flavors with impressive presentation. His flavors are clean, precise, and fill your mouth with wonder – or so I always imagined until I was able to try it for myself at his newest restaurant. Just looking at the menu, I knew I would have a tough time deciding. The Morimoto Peking Duck is a house specialty, but I was so tempted by so many of the other items – the Morimoto Spare Ribs in particular sounded delicious with a hoisin sweet chili glaze and I almost chose the Sweet and Sour Crispy Branzino which is a boneless head to tail fish deep fried with a sweet and sour sauce added. Yum. But I decided to go for something a little different and chose the Morimoto “Buri-Bop” which is a riff on the classic Korean dish, served with yellowtail and prepared for you at the table.
The dish was one that helped the Iron Chef win one of his battles on the show which was an interesting piece of history for me. And it was so much fun watching it prepared in front of us at the table. For my taste, I could have done with about half of the sauce poured on top because it was so rich and sweet, but it tasted fantastic and the fish was cooked to perfection (again right in front of us). My wife had the Pad Thai which had the most amazing sauce added to it. It was such a remarkable flavor, one I’d never had with pad thai before. My daughter went with two smaller dishes for her dinner, the pork dumplings from the appetizer section and the spicy tuna roll. She gave it two thumbs up, but I can’t tell you for myself how they tasted because she ate it all which says a lot by itself. Along with the “Buri-Bop” I ordered the Kakuni Pork Bao appetizer which was a combination of succulent braised pork belly, lettuce, and spicy mayo on a steamed bun. I could’ve eaten just that and been happy. It was so good. The pork belly melted in your mouth and the spicy mayo had just the right amount of kick to heighten the flavor of the pork belly without overpowering it. But what surprised me was the pillow of delight they called a steamed bun. Usually steamed buns are just a vehicle for the good stuff inside, but this bun was light, airy, and added to the texture and feel of the dish. Wow.
As amazing as it all tasted and looked, the highlight for me was getting to meet Chef Morimoto in person! He was at the restaurant, overlooking the kitchen and walking around the place and it didn’t take long for many people to notice but thankfully I was able to greet him and express my thankfulness to him for his talent. I can’t guarantee you’ll see him when you go, but if you do, go up and say “hi.” He is a gentle and amiable person who lets his food do most of the talking! Tell him I said, “hi.”