Superstar Japanese chef arrives in Bangkok

Morimoto caters to the chic, fashionably-clad crowd at MahaNakhon Cube

Assorted sashimi platter.

The location had never disappointed me when it came to gastronomic excitement.

Recently I was at MahaNakhon Cube building for dinner. Yet, amid the elegantly chic setting complemented by slow-beat lounge tunes and the fashionably-clad crowd of Morimoto, a high-profile Japanese restaurant that opened a few weeks ago on the building's fourth floor, I found my party of three lingering over a variety of bar bites. The restaurant's employees insisted that those were simply the dishes to be had.

Taste-wise, the delicacies we shared that evening were enjoyable. Still, in terms of presentation and flavour profile, that breed of East-meets-West creations isn't that new to Bangkok. This alone may reduce the excitement of urban diners.

For example, hamachi tacos (290 baht) featured three pieces of crispy half-folded flour tortilla filled with fresh, yuzu-seethed cubes of yellowtail fish and avocado.

While equally addictive tuna pizza (390 baht) showcased thin slices of sashimi-grade fish laced with anchovy aioli, shallots, olives, tomatoes and micro-green cilantro, with a good fiery kick from fresh bird's eye chillies on crispy paper-thin crust.

Morimoto's elegantly chic atmosphere enhanced with centre-stage sushi bar, al fresco dining terrace and panoramic bird's eye view of Bangkok's central business district.

You could simply tell that rock shrimp tempura (320 baht) was bluntly inspired by American-style chicken wings from the way the dish looked.

A dozen pieces of deep-fried battered shrimp came smothered in two styles of sauce: the Korean sweet chilli sauce and the mustardy wasabi aioli. And promptly complementing the shrimp fritters was a serving of house-made ranch sauce and fresh celery sticks. The platter of chashu pork salad (320 baht) was a neat-looking exhibition of soft and succulent strips of braised pork loin shaped into bite-sized rolls accompanied by thin cucumber ribbons and romaine lettuce and dressed with chilli oil sauce.

Over the dinner my dining companions and I wondered whether this 165-seater by the much-acclaimed chef Masaharu Morimoto had more substantial fare to offer, considering his accolades and the momentous scale of the establishment.

The Hiroshima-born sushi chef achieved career success early when he took the position as the opening chef of Nobu restaurant in New York. Stardom came soon after as he started to gain recognition by prominent institutions and media guides, including the James Beard Foundation, the Michelin Guide and Iron Chef.

Morimoto Bangkok is the latest among 10 of his culinary outlets worldwide. Here, the eight-page menu listed a decent range of starters, main entrées, wagyu steak as well as sushi and sashimi prepared with premium quality of course flown in twice a week to the restaurant from Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market.

To indulge in the day's best offering, sushi connoisseurs might want to reserve a seat at the sushi bar for the multi-course omakase dinner (6,000 baht per person). A limited number of seats are available per night.

More easily and perhaps less pricey, diners can also choose their preferred choice of aquatic fare from the à la carte menu.

From the collection of entrées, a dish called ishi yaki buri bop (590 baht) is worth having. It's a Japanese take on Korean bibimbap (rice casserole in hot stone bowl) with yellowtail sashimi, to be partially seared at the guest's table upon touching the surface of the hot stone bowl, as the protein centrepiece.

Sashimi loons may as well settle for the sashimi combo (3,000 baht). On the evening that I visited, the selection was represented by super fresh and naturally sweet fillets of aji (horse mackerel), kinmedai (golden-eye snapper), tai (red seabream) and hamachi.

To our pleasant surprise, desserts lent a heavenly finish to the dinner.

Morimoto had seven options of sweets to choose from. Of them, S'more, a creation made with Graham cracker, smoked soy chocolate mousse and toasted marshmallow (350 baht) is guaranteed to please all sweet-toothers with its soothing milky taste that comes with a buttery touch and gooey mouthfeel.

While tofu cheesecake with blueberry four-ways (350 baht) showcased the ball-shaped cheesecake made with soy milk and Japanese molasses cream on almond sponge cake base. The light and velvety cheesecake was complemented by lemon yoghurt power and blueberry sherbet, yoghurt and compote.

Like most haute restaurants, Morimoto boasts a state-of-the-art cocktail bar with a wide range of innovative concoctions crafted by internationally renowned mixologist Shingo Gohan.

Attending to the warmly-lit dining hall was a large team of well-trained English-speaking service staff.

Tuna pizza.

Hamachi tacos.


Morimoto

MahaNakhon Cube Building, 4th floor Narathiwat-Ratchanakharin Road Call 02-060-9099Open daily 11.30am-2.30pm and 6-11pm (close at 1am on Thur-Sat) Park in the building's car park Most credit cards accepted

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