Full Review: Dinner at Morimoto Asia in Disney World’s Disney Springs

Welcome to Morimoto Asia — the latest addition to the Disney Springs dining scene!

With dining locations in Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago (among others), Morimoto Asia is not the first restaurant venture headed by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. However, it is Chef Morimoto’s first “pan-Asian” restaurant, featuring flavors from across the continent with a focus on Thailand, Korea, Japan, and China.

This new Disney Springs location was created in partnership with the Pantina Restaurant Group (you may know this name from the group’s association with Disney World restaurants such as Via Napoli, Tutto Italia and Tutto Gusto, and a few Disneyland restaurants including Catal Restaurant and Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria).

Morimoto Asia opened its doors just last week on September 30th for dinner (lunch and the anticipated weekend brunch will not be offered for a few weeks yet — the starting date is yet to be announced), and you may have had a chance to check out our First Look from opening night. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the writing of this post, it has been announced that lunch at Morimoto Asia will debut on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 11:00 am.)

Today we’re back for a full review.

Morimoto Asia

Morimoto Asia

So, settle in! Because there’s LOTS to see…

Atmosphere

Okay, before we step inside Morimoto Asia, there’s one thing we have to do first… and that’s find it ;). With the ongoing construction as Disney Springs continues its transformation, you may be wondering where exactly this new addition is located.

Morimoto Asia is in The Landing of Disney Springs (the front of the building is actually facing construction for the time being). Your nearest dining landmark is Raglan Road. If you walk towards the front of Raglan, then you’re on the right track and you’ll spot the large sign on the side of the building.

Morimoto Asia sign

Morimoto Asia sign

I know. You could always grab a new “Disney Springs” map and figure this out… but isn’t reading the DFB more fun ;) ?

Anyway, I think you’ll find the payoff for going through the trek to be worthwhile. The new space is simply a stunner, and you can gather that it offers quite a different feel from anything else in Disney Springs immediately from the outside, with the three-story tall glass corner waiting to greet you, as well as the two-story outdoor terrace.

Morimoto Asia

Morimoto Asia

By the way, if you’re in The Landing during the evening, be sure to check out the exterior at night, when you’ll see Japanese writing lit up all along the front. It’s quite a nice effect.

I’m going to do my best to give you a little “walking tour,” but seriously, this place is MASSIVE. Once you are past the check-in counter, the restaurant opens into the main dining room.

Dining Area as viewed from above

Dining Area as viewed from above

From the entrance, you’ll notice that the left wall is is made of glass, offering the perfect opportunity for curious onlookers to watch everything that goes on in the kitchen!

Open Kitchen

Open Kitchen

You can clearly see the 24-hour marinated Peking Duck hanging in the middle, just waiting to be ordered.

MorimotoAsia_15-050

Closeup on the Open Kitchen and view of the Peking Duck

The back wall is decorated with striking black and white portraits and wall art.

Inside Morimoto Asia

Inside Morimoto Asia

(While the photos are beautiful, this area offers up my one critique of the general layout. This far back wall is where you’ll find the path to the restrooms, but there is no easy path to them for guests sitting along the outside wall. You have to walk all the way around to one of the side walls to get back there.)

Staying downstairs, you’ll find one of the bar and lounge areas. Seating in the immediate area includes a few couches, high tops, bar seating and some standard tables as well.

Downstairs Lounge

Downstairs Lounge

The bar offers a variety of tasty, Asia-inspired beverages, along with some old classics. But it is full service so you can really order anything that strikes your fancy.

There is a large, lovely stair case located back in the main dining area that leads up to the second floor.

Table setting

Table seating with staircase view

Morimoto Asia

View from the staircase

There is another full lounge on the second floor (I love the lighting above the bar!).

Upstairs Lounge

Upstairs Lounge

To the left, you’ll spot the Sushi Bar complete with just 14 seats of what might become the most popular spots in the house. Don’t worry, though — specialty rolls and platters are up for ordering even if you’re seated in one of the dining rooms.

Sushi Bar

Sushi Bar

Speaking of the Sushi Bar… look who we spotted right there! Indeed, that’s Chef Masaharu Morimoto himself, there for Opening Night!

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

We also spotted him in the kitchen :) .

Chef Morimoto

Chef Morimoto

Moving back upstairs, you’ll notice some wooden folding doors along the far wall in the background of this picture. That particular section will be available for private dining (but the regular tables facing the chandeliers aren’t anything to sneeze at, either).

Upstairs seating

Upstairs seating

Tying the entire place together are stunning crystal chandeliers that almost rain down from above, allowing you to catch glimmers of the various lights.

Inside Morimoto Asia

Inside Morimoto Asia

The eye-catching chandeliers are very much in keeping with the general vibe of the restaurant. The entire setting is designed to be sleek and modern; however, I wouldn’t call it simple or minimalist. I’d say it’s luxurious, and even ornate.

Not too shabby a place to dig right into some Pan-Asian cuisine, my friends…

Eats

It’s time to sit down with our menus, and check out what the Chef has to offer to everyone who stops by Morimoto Asia.

MorimotoAsia_15-005

Table Setting

 

The first order of business for my friends and me — naturally ;) — was to try some of the Specialty Drinks on the menu. (Just click the image to enlarge.)

DrinksMenu_MorimotoAsia_15-052

Specialty Drinks and Sake menu — click to enlarge

We went with the recommendation of our server to try a drink that had already become a favorite among the Cast: the Shirayuri (White Lily). Before I go on, mentioning our server gives me a chance to say how much we appreciated the service here — everyone from our servers to the managers who stopped by our table was enthusiastic and wonderful to interact with.

White Lily

White Lily

But on to the drink! The White Lily is a mix of Sudachi Shochu, Calico, and yuzu served with a twist. The end result is delicate, slightly citrusy, and creamy (it actually tastes a little like a lychee nut). It did a great job setting the stage for what ended up being a terrific array of drinks, overall.

White Lily

White Lily

The Mango Matcha Punch is green tea vodka, mango, and lychee soda, and tastes just like pureed mango. This one’s a little dangerous because it is entirely sweet and you really can’t detect the taste of any alcohol. So watch out ;).

Mango Matcha Punch

Mango Matcha Punch

On the other end of the spectrum is the Manhattan East: Hiro Sake, bourbon, Canton liqueur, and orange bitter. This one is very strong and not even remotely sweet, very much resembling an Old Fashioned.

Manhattan East

Manhattan East

The Singapore Sling is composed of Hendricks Gin, cherry brandy, brandy, and benedictine, coming together with a deep, smoky flavor. Again, another strong one — not unlike the Manhattan East.

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling

The Hibiscus Sazerac (Templeton Rye, hibiscus and absinthe) smelled very strongly of licorice, but surprisingly it had only the slightest of aftertastes from the absinthe. Don’t be fooled by the small size — it packs a HUGE punch.

Hibiscus Sazerac

Hibiscus Sazerac

Ishikawa 75 is made of ginjo sake (we’ll definitely be diving into some more sake in a little bit!), plum wine, and sparkling wine.  It’s quite dry, with a wonderful champagne taste.

Ishikawa

Ishikawa 75

While we enjoyed our drinks (very much, I might add), we took time to peruse the Starters, Sushi, and Entree menu.

Starters, Dim Sum, and Sushi menu -- click to enlarge

Starters, Dim Sum, and Sushi menu — click to enlarge

Soups, Salads, and Entree menu -- click to enlarge

Soups, Salads, and Entree menu — click to enlarge

Something to note: while the ambient lighting in the restaurant is beautiful — especially in the evening — we noticed we were not the only people struggling to read our menus (more than a few people were using their camera flashlights in order to read once the sun went down). So, if you have trouble reading the menu here, you’re not alone.

With that said, we chose two of Chef Morimoto’s Signature Starters to begin: the Tuna Pizza and Rock Shrimp Tempura.

Tuna Pizza and Rock Shrimp Tempura

Tuna Pizza and Rock Shrimp Tempura

The Tuna Pizza is somewhat like a deconstructed tuna roll, with tuna sashimi, tomato, jalapeño, and anchovy aioli topping a crispy tortilla. We anticipated a great deal of heat due to the peppers, but it was actually quite mild.

Tuna Pizza

Tuna Pizza

That said, it was very tasty, and the quality of that tuna just can’t be beat. There was absolutely no fishy-ness and the flavors were well-balanced.

Tuna Pizza

Tuna Pizza

The Rock Shrimp Tempura is served with a spicy gochujang aioli… and I’m telling you, this stuff just melts in your mouth. It’s buttery, with a slight hint of spice. Even my friend who doesn’t care for shrimp loved it.

Shrimp Tempura

Shrimp Tempura

If you’ve ever had any sort of Bang Bang shrimp, this is an elevated version. It may have been my favorite thing I tried at Morimoto Asia, and I could happily make a meal of this with a rice or noodle side.

Shrimp Tempura

Shrimp Tempura

Naturally, we couldn’t resist some Sushi, opting for the tried and true Spicy Tuna Roll.

Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

I must say, it was a good Spicy Tuna Roll but in the end… it was just a high quality Spicy Tuna Roll (though not exceptionally spicy).

Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

I think I’ll try one of the more specialty rolls next time to see if one of those knocks my socks off.

Before we dive into our main course, I should mention that almost all of the entrees are designed for sharing. We went once more with a signature item: the Morimoto Signature 24 hour Marinated Peking Duck Platter. The way our server described it, I understood it as though we’d be receiving the whole duck for the table, but this was not the case. The house-roasted duck is served with two dipping sauces (hoisin miso and apricot sweet chili) and flour tortillas.

Morimoto Peking Duck

Morimoto Peking Duck

Sauce

Hoisin and Apricot Sweet Chili Sauces

Flour Tortillas

Flour Tortillas

We were told no one had finished the platter but we found it fairly easy to get through between the four of us, and I really feel as though one or two people could make a meal out of it (if appetizers and drinks don’t factor into the equation).

It did taste very good, though. The skin was slightly crispy, and that marinade was delicious. Altogether it was very rich and a little fatty, which may account for why others have a hard time finishing it.

Morimoto Peking Duck

Morimoto Peking Duck

For a “side” of sorts we ordered the Spicy Thai Basil Fried Rice, on another recommendation by our waiter (our first non-signature food item of the night). The rice was cooked very well, and in this instance there was plenty for the four of us to share.

Spicy Thai Basil Fried Rice

Spicy Thai Basil Fried Rice

We found it to be well-seasoned, and I could really taste the full flavor of the Thai basil. That said, there was no heat to this dish so I felt like the balance was a little off. I’ve never had a solely sweet version, and I felt that it left me a little wanting.

Now, it’s time for the Sake Service. There is an extensive list of sake, and you can order it by the glass, carafe or bottle. Even though I already posted this menu picture with the Specialty Drinks, I’m putting it in again so you can check out the Sake selection more specifically (again, just click to enlarge). I really enjoy sake, and one of the reasons I get it is because it’s typically relatively inexpensive. I’m personally not used to seeing it at these prices.

Specialty Drinks and Sake Menu

Specialty Drinks and Sake Menu

We decided to go with the Morimoto Junmai, Ishikawa (under the Morimoto Signature Sake) which was listed as the least expensive at $36 a carafe. Oh, and a word to the wise: our server came back and informed us that it was listed incorrectly and is actually $45 a carafe (which we still had to pay even with the incorrect listing).

The sake was brought to us in a bowl filled with ice, and the waiter slowly poured the sake into the chilled sake cups and then set it down on the table for everyone to take (generally, four people can get two pours each, which is what we received). The sake was served cold, so for others who may be more used to hot sake — like me — you may want to make note of this. But overall, we found the Junmai, Ishikawa to be an incredibly smooth sake, offering sweet notes on the back of the throat and no burn from the alcohol.

Sake Service

Sake Service

Of course, we’re not finished yet… our after-dinner treats also included a few desserts.

Dessert Menu

Dessert and After-dinner Drinks Menu — click to enlarge

First up: the Churro Fondue. Oh, my word, this was SO. GOOD. The Churros were exactly what I’d hoped they would be — crispy on the outside; soft, warm, and wonderful on the inside. The “fondue” is a thick vanilla dipping sauce, and a small tube of nutella sauce (!!) that you can squeeze out onto the churro. Across the board, it’s a 10.

Churro Fondue

Churro Fondue

The Chocolate Cream & Crunch — mandarin orange jelly and dark chocolate gelato topped with hazelnut chocolate crunchies —  wasn’t as much my jam. (I’m not a huge fan of flan, which is ultimately what this reminded me of).  But this dish was more than saved for me by the addition of a little something called Oreo Tempura.

Chocolate Cream and Crunch

Chocolate Cream and Crunch

Starting with the main dish, my friends (unlike myself) did like the mandarin orange jelly. It’s almost like a citrusy custard — very sweet and creamy, and it arrives decorated with edible flowers and yummy, chocolate-y crunchiness. The chocolate gelato served its purpose well with a rich, dark flavor.

Chocolate Cream and Crunch

Chocolate Cream and Crunch

It was also quite a lot of food, a really nice offering for four people. But I’ve gotta say it… “More OREO TEMPURA, please.” Crunchy, sweet, and mildly salty…

Chocolate Cream and Crunch

Chocolate Cream and Crunch

I would LOVE to make a plea for these to become their own signature dessert offering! Who’s with me ;) ?

With that sweet ending, we wrapped up our first visit to Morimoto Asia… but it won’t be our last.

Overall

Beautiful, memorable surroundings and some unique and delicious offerings are helping Morimoto Asia establish a pretty high bar for any future openings in Disney Springs (for those keeping score at home, STK Orlando and The Edison are among the ever-expanding options to come). I’m surprised to say that the drinks, appetizers, and desserts were the standouts, so I’m looking forward to trying a few more of the entrees in future visits to see what may wow me.

I’m also very interested in trying out the Dim Sum that will be part of the weekend brunch offerings, because…. well, who wouldn’t be? That’s right! We aren’t done at Morimoto Asia just yet. Though it’s currently only open at 5:00 pm for dinner each evening, in coming weeks the restaurant will start serving lunch and weekend brunch. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the writing of this post, it has been announced that lunch at Morimoto Asia will debut on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 11:00 am.)

A few good things to know! Even though what was previously Downtown Disney has been officially renamed Disney Springs, the entire transformation of the area won’t be complete until sometime in 2016 (including construction of the second parking garage). This means that construction and traffic at the time of this writing are still major factors in planning your visit, so you will definitely want to factor in plenty of extra travel time, especially if you are driving to Disney Springs (although, according to some friends who were using Disney transportation recently because they were Resort guests, they recommend planning extra time, too).

Morimoto Asia will accept the Disney Dining Plan (participating as a Signature Restaurant requiring 2 Table Service credits), but participating guests should note that this will not begin until November. Morimoto Asia does accept Tables in Wonderland. Guests currently interested in booking a reservation for dinner may do so through OpenTable.com. After November 1st, the standard Disney booking options will be available through the Disney World website or by calling (407) WDW-DINE.

So, what do you think of everything you’ve seen so far? Is a visit to Morimoto Asia going to be a part of your future Disney Springs experience? I’d love to hear what you think!

Did you happen to dine at Morimoto Asia during opening week? Please let us know about your experience — or your thoughts on whether Morimoto Asia will play a part in your future dining destinations — with a comment!

(DFB Team contributors to this post included Caitlin P., Wendy, and AJ.)

Comments

  1. Dru says

    We’re very excited to visit next week for dinner! The prices did seem rather high so we’re expecting to have a few starters here and then head over to Jocks’s for a few of your recommended starters. Thanks DFB for planning our evening!!

  2. Jon says

    Great review! The sake selection is very diverse and for the uninitiated it may be best to do a little homework :) Morimoto (sake) may be the La Cava (tequila) of the East. With the other restaurants (STK and Edision) soon to come aboard it appears that Disney Springs will be a destination hotspot for eating/drinking. I called in for a ressie and I can hardly wait to visit.

  3. Mike V says

    Excellent review, I cannot wait to give this place a try!!!
    Did Chef Morimoto make his way through the restaurant at all? I know the times he has been present at the Philadelphia restaurant he makes sure to. Very nice man!!
    Also a bit taken back by the fact that they made you pay for the wrongly priced sake. They didn’t comp you anything instead?
    Cannot wait to try!

  4. Jayne Nagel says

    We walked in and were seated immediately in the upper “Private” section. It was an amazing view. The decor is beyond amazing. That being said, we began to look over the menu.

    First, we ordered the the Dim Sum pork dumplings. (Please forgive me now if I over rave) They were so, so, SOOOO delicious! I was amazed!

    Then I decided to get the spare ribs appetizer as my meal. I knew my girls would not eat all their food so I refrained. No one mentioned that the entrees were large sized.
    I was served my ribs before the entrees which was fine. I want to mention that each time we were served the waiter explained the dish, how it was cooked and what ingredients were used. It was very nice. The spare ribs were so tender that before it even reached my mouth I believe it jumped off the bone into my mouth. Seriously. They were that good.

    The girls ordered Chicken Lo Mein, Orange Chicken and Pho ga. I just can’t say enough about every single dish they put in front of us.

    Afterwards…desert. We were full but our waitress said the desert menu was their pride and joy. WHO could say no? She recommended first, the MM Parfait and then the Cream Caramel. We were so very full that we decided on MM Parfait even thought she said it was only for two people. When she placed this most wonderful and amazing dish in front of us we were stunned. It would EASILY feed 4 or perhaps 6. It was however…perfect in every way. We managed to devour almost all of it.

    I hope I have not bored you with my rant…but this was by far one of the best meals I have ever eaten. If you have the chance to visit Morimoto Asia, do NOT hesitate. It is worth every penny I spent.

  5. Kris says

    Did they really serve the duck with Mexican style flour tortillas or was it Chinese pancakes (like the ones you get with moo shu pork)? I wish they would serve those steamed white buns instead. The Asian food available on property is barely serviceable – at least this looks like a step up. Sometimes when I’m on vacation at WDW I get a hankering for food “just like mama makes”, so I’ll probably stop by on my next trip.

  6. Essie says

    It would certainly be an extravagant treat, but one I’d like to do on some visit; it looks excellent.

  7. Brad D says

    Great review and very accurately describes the restaurant, food and service; although, nothing beats trying it yourself. Absolutely enjoyed the food, service and ambiance (there’s still some remnants of Mannequins hidden in the venue).

    Only disagreement is why would anyone want to heat a good Sake? We tried Morimoto’s top Daigon Junmai and, like any good Sake, opi would be severely disappointed if served other than chilled, but I believe that comes from not appreciating or understanding the in traces and nuances of great Sakes.

    Overall, loved the review, if we had not been there already it would have definitely piqued our interest. Gracias!

  8. Jamie in Jax says

    Domo arigato, Mr. Morimoto! (Anybody singing the Styx song in their head?) :) See you in March 2016!

  9. Ashley M says

    We had the pork belly dim sum and the pork potstickers for appetizers. The potstickers were very good but nothing compares to the pillows of salty heaven that were the dim sum. The pork ramen was absolutely delicious and it was nice to have an option of the spice level for those who do not like the red chili sauce added to their ramen. The lo mein also did not leave much to be desired. All in all a delicious meal with generous portions. For dessert we had the parfait. The hazelnut cream puffs were delicious, but the mochi was not the best I’ve had. However, definitely don’t try to take on this dessert by yourself. It’s meant for at least four people. I’ve already got another reservation booked for next week! Definitely worth the trek through the construction.

  10. Jennifer says

    I’m a bit confused about the menu and I’ve read several reviews of the restaurant so far and none have really cleared it up for me. Which dishes on the menu are entree’s and which are sides? The noodles & rice dishes, are those sides or entree’s? At first I thought they were entree’s and I was excited to try one of the noodle dishes but then I realized that the meat options don’t say they come with sides and I realized the prices of the noodles & rice dishes were significantly lower than the meat dishes. So do any of the meat entree’s come with sides or will we have to order them separate?

  11. Marie says

    I wish their desserts weren’t all for two. As a solo diner, often regular disney portions for one as too much. I think the Oreo tempura and churros (although I’ve actually yet to try a disney churro(!)) look delish but I can’t imagine spending the price for two servings and leaving half. :-(

  12. chris says

    Those 2 signature apps are slightly cheaper than at the original PHL location (lower sales tax too).

    The sake menu format is a bit of a mess and a good server/somm might be useful. Default bottle size seems to be 720mL but the Dassai 50 @ $40 has to be 300mL or it’s a steal. Oh, and they listed the Nanbu Bijin twice.

    “Full Review” = “First Look” + rice + 4 drinks? Did you go there twice and order the same things again or was this 1 meal split over 2 posts? I’m not advocating that you join our ranks as Tubby McLardasses, but a table of 4, of whom at least 3 are food-focused, only orders 2.5-3 small plates, 1 main dish and rice? (Dessert doesn’t count, everyone knows that goes into a separate compartment)

    Typos: Patina Group; possibly Calpico (if it’s that milky/yogurt drink); for the sake, “Morimoto Junmai” is probably enough (brand/brewery and category), Ishikawa is the prefecture

  13. Adrienne says

    The food looks fabulous…! How many people were in your dining party and what was the final bill total…?

  14. Sandra says

    We ate there a few weeks ago, OMG!!!!! I think the best food I have had in a long time. And the charro, can’t wait to go back!!!!!

  15. Shauna says

    I am reading the post in disbelief as it appears I am one of the first lunchtime diners. I had no idea that the 14th was the first day-I’d heard it would be open for lunch and we went right in. Second the superb service-we were there with our three children (7, 5, 2) and the staff was great with them. They have a lovely kids menu complete with origami making. I had the lunch bunch which comes in a bento-like tray and is a great sampler. One note-the duck Caesar salad is just ok, but everything else was spectacular!

  16. Frank says

    Ate at Morimoto’s a few days ago. Our third time. Things have changed. Sushi was very good. Ribs were deep fried. Definite drop off . Shumai did nothing for me. Orange chicken tasted like chicken tenders with some orange sauce. Nothing really stood out. We will definitely go across the street to Raglan Road hereafter.

  17. says

    I ate at Morimoto Asia for the first time during the opening days. It was fabulous. Much to my dismay, I hosted my niece for her 24th birthday. We got two types of noodles, lo mean chicken and, I think, the Shrimp Tempura. They were both so sticky that they could not be eaten with chop sticks. I had to ask for a fork and knife to cut them apart. I will also say (although I am not a fan of it anyway), the sushi plate we got was tasteless. I a was really disappointed and will not pay more than $100 to go again.

  18. Kristen says

    Has anyone used the dining plan at Morimoto? If so, how does ordering work? Since there aren’t specific “entree’s”, or rather the rolls aren’t an entree portion, do you just get to order one roll? We are trying to figure out if its just better to outright pay for the meal or use our dining plan. Any help is appreciated!

  19. Mark says

    Finally tried this place with friends visiting from Poland. I had the spare ribs and they were terrific. It is a huge portion, two could share and I did give one away. The lo mein was the best I have tasted, but the shrimp fried rice was pretty bland. Here’s the rub, lunch for four with no alcohol was $197. Is this better than Pei Wei? Yes. Is it 5 times better? No. I doubt we’ll go back.

  20. John says

    We had a 4pm flight out last week and as we had used all the days on our park hopper, we decided to check out Disney Springs for a lunch visit. We chose Morimoto as only the adults were on this Food & Wine trip, and figured we should scout it out to see how the kids would like it. I was cautiously optimistic, and was very glad we decided to check it out. We were there early because of our flight, but the restaurant was ready to go, and the hostess, waitress and water service were on point from the start. We ordered a BUNCH of cocktails and appetizers to start, and they were probably the highlight of the trip. That’s not to say lunch entrees weren’t great, but the openers were out of this world. This bar at this place will definitely be one of the places I kill time next trip while my wife goes shopping on our next family trip – just so I can get the ribs appetizer and a cocktail. I totally loved the ambiance and the experience, and I’m kicking myself that Disney’s evil master plan is working and next time we come for 10 days, we’re probably spending two of those nights in DS. Place is hoppin ‘ !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *