Morimoto Las Vegas adds a new element to chef's cuisine
Las Vegas is a city awash in fine Japanese cuisine; in fact, the valley is in the midst of a multiyear proliferation of Japanese restaurants with (thankfully) no apparent end in sight. But even with this embarrassment of riches, there is room at the table for world-class chefs, so the welcome afforded the opening of Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s eponymous Morimoto Las Vegas is not the least bit surprising.
Morimoto is probably best known for reigning over Kitchen Stadium in both the Japanese and American renditions of Iron Chef. And with his restaurant’s arrival at MGM Grand, diners will now have the opportunity to delve into both his classics, along with special Vegas-only experiences, amongst which is his menu fixture—toro tartare with a presentation befitting its reputation. Two flat boxes perched atop a bowl of crushed ice are delivered to your table; in one is the buttery Kindai bluefin tartare, garnished with a dollop of white sturgeon caviar, while the other contains a sextet of accoutrements: wasabi, sour cream, nori paste, chives, guacamole and rice cracker crumbles. Pick and choose how to complement your tartare, mixing and matching along the way.
Equally enthralling is the yellowtail “pastrami,” lightly smoked tableside and finished with togarashi, gin crème fraiche, candied olive and Morimoto grapeseed oil. The dish is a mixture of flavors with the togarashi contributing heat balanced by the cooling of the crème fraiche and the grapeseed oil providing a foil to the light smokiness of the fish. And tender octopus carpaccio wades lightly in a hot sesame/olive oil mix with a side of yuzu soy, the characteristic tough texture rendered tender from blanching and a sound beating with a daikon radish. Yes, a daikon radish.
But undoubtedly Morimoto Las Vegas’ claim to fame is as the only venue in the Iron Chef’s baker’s dozen restaurant empire with teppan grills. The theatrical style of the Japanese cooking method is a highlight of the menu, and Morimoto uses with a more traditional take on the storied cooking method, so don’t expect flaming onion volcanos or shrimp acrobatics; instead, be prepared for ingredient-driven dishes utilizing the versatility of the flat spectator grills.
Rich Japanese A5 wagyu beef sukiyaki—Asian fondue for the uninitiated—comes with a soft poached jidori egg for dipping, and a pair of buttery A5 skewers are gilded with chimichurri and freshly grated wasabi. Bouillabaisse in fata paper is creatively prepared on the flattop with a myriad of shellfish and seafood swimming in a complex, umami-forward lobster broth, while meaty Snake River Farms steaks are cooked to your liking and accompanied by a trio of dipping sauces: Morimoto’s own steak sauce, creamy béarnaise and sharp chimichurri.
Accompany your meal with either ishiyaki buri bop or teppan-prepared fried rice, but save room for some final theatrics with the fiery chocolate tart. Flaming spiced rum melts away an ornate chocolate sphere, revealing a creamy marshmallow core. Paired with dark chocolate sorbet, it’s an innovative take on s’mores and a grand finale for Morimoto’s grand arrival on the Las Vegas Strip!