Sunday, May 8, 2011

Oh Sure -- Blame the Bar

Toro Tartare – Morimoto

Ginger (futilely tapping phone): “I have no reception.  Who puts a bar in the basement?!”

Vodka: “Oh sure.  Blame the bar.”

Our night at Morimoto.

Many aspects of Morimoto overwhelm us.  First of all, despite the fact that we are both familiar with the Chelsea Market area (being Food Network groupies and all), we have completely wrong ideas concerning where the place is located (Ginger first walks to Buddakan, and Vodka, to Del Posto).  Second of all, despite making reservations, we decide that we are better off at our mainstay of the bar – not the sushi bar, where most frequenters of Morimoto flock – the bar bar.  Which is in the basement.  More confusion.

Third of all, at first glance, one needs jitsu training in order to figure out how to get Duff Goldman’s Best Thing I Ever Ate SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE dish, the toro tartare, into one’s mouth.  And finally, there’s the whole issue concerning the high-tech bathrooms.

But let’s back up.

Locating both Morimoto and the bar after a hint of trouble, we get down to the business of ordering our cocktails.  Ginger makes a pleasant choice – the orange blossom.  Vodka, temporarily losing her mind, orders a High Line, ignoring the fact that this margarita-like drink includes “Japanese pepper.”  How spicy could a cocktail really be?

“Spicy enough to kill you” is the answer.
Deceivingly Spicy
When sipped, the High Line at first tastes like a Skinnygirl Margarita – light and refreshing.  And then the pepper hits you, and you are downing water like you are back at Devi eating mirchi ka salan.

We order the toro tartare, and it arrives accompanied by a translator.  Said translator walks us through the components of the dish, the utensils for the dish, and the ingredients in the dish.  None of which we understand. In front of us lies a slab of raw pink tuna with a dab of caviar.  In front of this plank is a variety of six ingredients with which to scoop onto the tuna.  From what we understand, this includes mini rice crackers, seaweed paste, sour cream, chives, avocado, and wasabi, plus soy sauce on the side (needless to say, these descriptions could all be wrong).  We pick up our miniature shovels, dive into the tuna, and start dipping.

The toro tartare is a revelation.
A Revelation We're Not Sure How to Eat
At first, we are careful with our condiments – we sample them one or two at a time, gingerly dipping the corner of our tuna into them.  But soon, we turn into animals, scraping all six into one mouthful (and subsequently dumping rice crackers all over the ground).
Beauty in Raw Fish Form
Ginger, who generally hates seaweed (“It tastes like the ocean”) even likes the seaweed paste.  The dish is mysteriously and remarkably addicting, and we scoop the whole thing clean, secretly wishing for another.

Instead, we settle for lobster fritters and a spicy salmon sushi roll with cucumber (when ordering sushi rolls, add a crunchy ingredient whenever possible.  You’ll thank us for this tip later).  These, too, are wonderful, and Ginger, who usually pulls sushi rolls apart to avoid the seaweed, eats whole pieces of it happily.
Lobster Fritters - Who Knew?
We adore Morimoto and all of its fishy goodness.

And then we have to go to the bathroom.  In theory, this should not be a hard task, as the bathroom is located ten feet from the bar.  Unfortunately, now tipsy after second cocktails (thankfully without Japanese pepper), we cannot figure out a) how to open the door to the bathroom (it’s a sliding door.  A HEAVY sliding door) and b) how to work the toilet (one of those fancy shmancy Japanese toilets that will do your housework for you, yet we are confused by it and can’t even get the thing to open).
We Want to Go Back to There
After surviving that fiasco and successfully exiting the bathroom, Vodka makes a fool of herself when the hostess comes to the bar looking for the “Peters party,” and Vodka is convinced that Bernadette Peters is in attendance (she is not).  Ginger, trying to document this absurdity (“I tried to type ‘remember’ and my phone made ‘grangrene.’”), discovers that she has no service and becomes hostile towards the basement bar.

Until, of course, she remembers: when you drink as many cocktails as we do, you should never, ever blame the bar.

Morimoto’s Toro Tartare: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

1 comment:

  1. Damn, I was hoping y'all would have had something to say about that "Mountain Peach" (the little red spot on the R side of your pic). Always wondered if it had any flavor function or was just for show/weird factor.
    And Ginger, if you hate the taste of the ocean, I'm sure you're glad the one oyster dish on TBTIEA is smothered with cheese and baked!