Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Philly Redux

So I promised a little more on the Philly trip. The occasion was I suppose the end of the summer and the coincidental presence of my inlaws at a conference in town. We'd gotten the idea in our heads that we would go there to see them, and then figured we could parlay that into a trip to Morimoto we've been planning for quite some time.

We arrived and checked into our hotel. It was about 400 degrees out Saturday, and we hadn't pre-arranged for tickets to Independence Hall (I swear I did this ages ago and it was a walk in thing - but maybe not), so we struck out to find someplace air-conditioned. We wound up at the Constitution Center. They have a little multimedia show, a fairly large informational (edutainment?) exhibit, and a life size, three dimensional reproduction of the painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Here I am with your buddy and mine Ben Franklin:

The craft of the exhibit is pretty good. Its the kind of project I would have liked to have done when I was in commercial fabrication. They have lots of interactives, a whole lot of images, and a blessed few artifacts. Of particular note is the sound design. The designers did an excellent job of isolating and imaging multiple audio tracks such that they are intelligible and audible but do not compete with each other. If you are into sound, this is worth the price of admission.

After the Constitution Center we went to see the Liberty Bell. It's still there:

Growing up I had somehow managed to miss the Liberty Bell. I think it fell under the heading of "too much hoopla." There's still a fair bit of hoopla now.

Back to the hotel; nap, shower, change, and back down the street to dinner. I've wanted to go to this restaurant for a while. The Iron Chef TV show counts me as a fan, and then on top of that they did a "making of" this particular place for Food Network called "Morimoto RAW" which I have actually considered using for Production planning class.

The interior is very neat and clean, very modern. The seats have color changing lights in them that switch every couple of minutes, enough so it is interesting, not so much that it is annoying.

So speaking of annoying, I tried not to be by not using the flash on my camera. Even though I held real still and opened the aperture up as far as it will let me, my pics from inside the restaurant are a little dark and blurry. So, suffice it to say that everything looks better than my photos.

We did the "omakase," the chef's tasting. We did that even though we'd just been informed that Morimoto was not in the restaurant that night.

First course was a Hamachi Tartare. It was in a broth based on soy sauce that seemed to have bonito flakes in it. The dish also wore a little hat of caviar. Very, very nice. I could have eaten seven.

A have to confess not remembering the name of the second dish, and I can't really even identify it from the menu I can find online. It could be the zensai sakizuke from the dinner menu, but it might also be the warm whitefish carpachio from the lunch menu. I would lean toward the latter, as it was a very thin protien dish, but the name of the former has more traction in my head. The only reason I hesitate is that the menu says "five pieces" and as you can see in the dark, blurry photo below there are only four. But maybe they do four for the tasting.

The zensai sakizuke is listed as anti-pasto. This really fit into that niche. Although it was fish, it had a real ham feel to it. Again, very nice.

Salad. So, one of the most interesting things about this mean for me was that I ate everything. I normally have a fairly narrow protein and starch diet. I'd worried that going to this restaurant and especially doing a tasting menu that I would be faced with many things I wouldn't want to eat. But in this case I ate every single thing that was put in front of me. The salad was sashimi salad: mixed micro greens, tuna tataki, and shoyu dressing. I never eat salad. I ate this. It was great.

I also accidentally used my flash and blinded several people.

Next up: soba carbonara, soba noodles, edamame, bacon, black truffle. This is available as an app or an entree. I could have eaten three of these easily. Just fantastic.

Entree: Black Cod Miso, just like it says. There was a little garnish of red pepper and three (3) beans. This was hard to eat with chopsticks. They gave us a knife and fork but I figured I was up to the challenge. I probably should have caved. This was light and sweet. The fish was flaky and moist and the skin was crispy.

After the main dish we had a sushi tasting. I think maguro, suzuki, kanpachi, hamachi, & kisu; but mostly I am guessing. This was really good sushi, good fish to rice ratio, and good tasting rice as well. Mostly what it did was make me want to come back and just do sushi. In the context of the tasting menu it just became a blur.

The food festival is almost at an end. Now we have desert: a mini apricot cake with vanilla mousse. Just enough to button up the whole thing.

We've talked a lot about this meal since being there. I have been trying to figure out where it goes in the context of the other restaurants I have been to in my life. Certainly it is top five without question. It's right up there with 808 and Eleven. I think 808 might have been better, but Morimoto might edge Eleven. Or for all three it might just come down to what you order on what night. Mrs TANBI was surprised at how meaty it was, even if it was fish. She thought there would have been more of a vegetable focus. Like I said, I ate up and enjoyed every single thing they served. It's great food and a great time, and if you happen to win a cash prize for something and would like to blow it all at once, this would be a great choice.

Off to the hotel to food coma through the night.

The next day we got a comfortable start and went for brunch. My mother-in-law had found a place in Philly's Chinatown that does dim-sum off of carts. This was all new to me, but they said it was authentic and fun. It certainly was authentic.

The food was fine. I didn't care for chicken feet. It was amazing to see how quickly the place filled up. We got there fairly soon after they opened, maybe the third party to be seated. By the time we left there wasn't a single empty table.

We had a few hours to kill before heading back to the airport so we went to the art museum. My favorite part of this excursion had to be the museum exterior. They must be doing a renovation to the masonry, so in the interim that are shrouded with scaffolding. In a real class design decision someone decided that the scaff would be boring and they made themselves a sheath - with a picture of the museum as an architectural blueline.

Nice touch.

These were my favorite pieces form the museum trip:

He Who Tries to Travel Two Roads
Ink on paper - Son Man Jin - 2001

This was part of a calligraphy exhibit. The piece is like seven feet tall. Something about it just seemed very interesting to me.

Young Girl
Oil on Canvas - Jacques Villon (Gaston Duchamp) - 1912

This piece caught my eye because I think I see two views superimposed on top of one another. One image appears to be a seated figure, and the other appears to be a close up like a head shot. Nothing with the painting references the close up, but I feel fairly certain it is there and intentional. But then, I am not much of an art consumer.

All the eating and exhibits behind us we take the train back to the airport and return to overcast, sticky Pittsburgh. And a fun time was had by all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

don't go to another stephen starr restaurant without letting me know... i know the office manager at morimoto and a VP for marketing for the Starr organization. - lindsay