Saturday, November 21, 2015

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs: A Crystal Palace of Food

It took less time than it did for Odysseus to travel back home to Ithaca after the Battle of Troy, but I am sure that it was similarly arduous. I am speaking about the effort required last night to get from my home to Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs (the new, upscale name for the old Downtown Disney). That journey is the reason why locals thank their lucky stars every day for the wealth of fine eating establishments that have sprung up closer to home, negating the need to drive to Disney, which, for a long time, was the only quality show in town. But, all the griping aside, the trip was worth it.

Back in the day, Downtown Disney was comprised of a mix of specialty shops, once-shining restaurants, and a number of night clubs, but it had grown stale in comparison to newer venues such as Universal's City Walk. To address this issue, Disney has undertaken a massive revamp and rebranding of the area to include major infrastructure improvements and the addition of new shops, restaurants, and themed entertainment areas.

One of the new restaurants is Morimoto Asia, an offering from celebrity Chef Masaharu Morimoto which features cuisine from across Asia. The restaurant is located in the Landings section of Disney Springs and opened for business at the end of September. We had received very positive reviews regarding the food from Adam and Gigi Chilvers, our friends (and proprietors of after their visit so we decided to go experience it for ourselves.

I have alluded to the difficulty of fighting through Orlando rush-hour traffic and then the masses seeking to get into the Disney properties for their evening's entertainment. Disney has constructed large parking garages just north of the movie theaters and Cirque de Soleil and has also built a flyover that funnels I-4 traffic directly into the garage. You can choose to park within the structure or utilize an available valet parking service.

The restaurant is about five or six minutes (walking time) away from the parking area. Beware of high heels and fully loaded wine bags. I think I hyper-extended my elbow.

As you make your way from the parking area, you are almost not walking. It is as though you are being carried along on this wave of humanity that is moving from the parking area, all with no specific place to go and no specific time to get there. And then you happen on a quiet side street -- an island of calm in this roiling sea of humanity -- and at the end of the street you see the magic words on a vertically oriented sign -- Morimoto Asia.

You have to continue down that side street and make a right turn in order to access the Morimoto entrance. And it immediately hits you. This is Disney. These guys had to put on a show. And they did. It was stunning. This place is worth a visit just to see the type of structures developed and deployed and the use of light and incredibly beautiful light fixtures throughout the space.

The restaurant is spread out over two levels with bars and dining areas on each. The top floor is only partially built out leaving a large central "hole" through which ceiling-hung material can drape as well as through which to view the activities of the diners below.

On the top floor there are enclosed "quiet space" dining areas which are set up for four guests per table. There are larger tables set up outside of these quiet zones.

There are outside patio dining areas on each level.

A word to the wise. The restaurant is very crowded now in this early phase so make a reservation before you go. While we were standing at the reception desk they were turning people away left and right. There are a few first-come, first-served areas adjacent to both bars but you have to be lucky. Second, try to get a table on the second floor. It makes for a much more spectacular dining experience.

Well, my time is up. I will tell you about the food at another time.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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