Time to head to Disney Springs! We’ve enjoyed some quality meals in Walt Disney World recently. And tonight, we’re spending the evening at one of the resort’s more high profile spots — Morimoto Asia.
The Pan Asian restaurant numbered among the first new restaurants that opened as Downtown Disney became Disney Springs. We tried it on the very first day it opened and found some dishes that were truly noteworthy. But dining here is not for the budget seeker. It can get pricey, fast.
But it’s also worth noting that Morimoto Asia continues to surprise us with expanded and special offerings. Since it opened, they’ve introduced a Late Night Menu of special drinks and small plates. And the Dim Sum Brunch is one of Morimoto Asia’s greatest values, and something pretty unique in Walt Disney World.
Guests who aren’t looking for a sit-down dining experience can also indulge in some of the restaurant’s specialties at the counter service spot, Morimoto Asia Street Food. But if you are set on experiencing table service, keep in mind that MA is once again participating in Orlando Magical Dining Month, during which you can get three courses for $35! (See the full list of participating Disney Restaurants here.)
The restaurant’s alluring atmosphere and huge menu of tempting dishes was hard to resist for long. And since we believe in visiting a spot again and again to ensure we can still recommend it, I felt that it was time to take in another full-on Morimoto Asia meal. Join me to see how the restaurant is faring two years in.
Morimoto is located in The Landing at Disney Springs. If you’re trying to get your bearings, head past Sprinkles from the Lime Garage and you’ll find it across from Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant.
Its signage as the former Disney Springs Bottling Company warehouse makes it easy to spot from a distance.
If you’re coming from West Side, you might ’round the bend and see this gorgeous mural as well.
Interesting, because there is actually a Forbidden Lounge with a separate entrance — but it’s clear on the other side of the building. Still. Pretty Cool Stuff.
Step into the restaurant, and some pretty spectacular design elements greet you, including these modern “waterfall” chandeliers.
This striking photo wall is equally beautiful.
There are two levels to Morimoto; let’s have a look at the downstairs first. Directly behind the podium is the first floor bar and lounge. In addition to the bar, the area also includes couches and high top tables.
An exhibition kitchen runs along the opposite wall, enabling guests to watch all of the action taking place behind the glassed-in area.
Looking to order one of the restaurant’s specialties, Peking Duck? No worries. There’s plenty at the ready!
Seating is available both on the lower and upper level. You can access the upper level via a stairway in the middle of the dining room, or by an elevator tucked into the back. (There’s also a stairwell behind that Forbidden Lounge Door we showed you earlier.)
Views from the upper level to the floor below are worth climbing the stairs to see.
Upstairs, you’ll find another bar area.
Because of the open floor plan, seating on the second level overlooks the first, and the windows onto the restaurant’s terrace allow in lots of light. This is a good thing, because the interior walls are black, and tend to suck up the light pretty quick (this is NOT an easy place to take pictures).
Some of the second floor seating is enclosed in a glassed-in area. The area can be used for private functions, but we’ve also been seated there during regular service. It’s cozy, and feels a bit hidden away because of the doors (even though you’re right out in plain sight).
I know the restaurant’s sign figures prominently into this pic, but I’m also sharing it to show you the outdoor terrace. It’s a wonderful space, especially during evenings or cooler months.
Now that I’ve given you the tour, let’s dig in!
Morimoto Asia offers a wide selection of beverages for just about every taste. There are Signature Cocktails, Seasonal Cocktails, Non-Alcoholic specialties, and a selection of Draft and Bottled Beer. You’ll also find Shochu, a distilled Japanese spirit.
And that was just the front of the menu. On the back, you’ll find selections of Sake and Wine. Both are available by the bottle or glass, and you can also enjoy a Sake Flight if you’d like to learn a little more about it.
We didn’t get it this time, but Morimoto offers a refreshing twist on Sangria with their Asian Sangria, a combination of light white wine, plum wine, sake, and asian pears, combined with apple, plum, and tangierine juices.
We tried the Sake service on a previous visit and enjoyed it as well.
We went with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages this time out. My friend was looking for a little pick me up, and decided to try the creamy, sweet, Vietnamese Iced Coffee.
Another friend thought the Lavender Coco Lemonade sounded good. We were all impressed with its fresh flavor, and the flower garnish was a lovely touch.
Another friend went for the Bourbon Green Tea, a mix of Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Grand Marnier Peach and Raspberry, green and jasmine teas, and simple syrup. It was the best kind of iced tea, and perfectly refreshing on a hot Disney Day.
As we sipped our drinks, we continued to explore the vast menus, beginning with Sushi, Sashimi, Small Plates, and Dim Sum. You could easily make a meal from the selections here.
The selections continued on the back, where we found familiar entrees and some more adventurous (and pricey) specialties.
We opted to start with some small plates before moving onto entrees. We couldn’t resist the Morimoto Spare Ribs. Sweet, succulent, and tender, their fall-off-the-bone consistency and complex flavors of hoisin and sweet chili. These are a definite must have if you’re visiting Morimoto.
And keep in mind — they’re also available at Street Food if you prefer a counter service experience.
But we also had to share the Peking Duck. The dish is prepared traditionally, with a whole glazed duck sliced and presented. It’s served with apricot sweet chili sauce and hoisin miso, with steamed pancakes. The menu says that it serves two, but with a few sides or small plates, four or more guests could enjoy it easily.
And you should. Because it’s incredible. Again, we loved the depth of flavor here, and the meat was perfectly prepared with crispy tender skin — not the least bit dry or tough. Honestly, if you get nothing else here, get this.
But while that was a bit of a splurge, an even greater one was about to take place. Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, I was totally doing it. I was totally ordering the Japanese Wagyu Beef. See, my husband and I have a tradition of splurging on seriously good steak — reserve steak, authentic wagyu, and the like. So how could I not?
A little bit about how this works before I dive into the experience itself. The beef is priced per ounce — $23 during my visit — and there’s a minimum order of three ounces. You can get more, of course. You just can’t get less.
When you take the plunge, your server will bring you a laminated copy of the Certificate of Authenticity to show you that, yep — this is the real deal. None of that “it’s got the genes and we promise this American cow had Japanese grandparents” nonsense. This was born and bred in Japan.
Once you commit, there’s a bit of a show involved, as a chef brings the whole set up to sear the meat tableside.
The incredibly marbled beef is portioned in tiny squares, and there’s a little bit of extra beef fat on the platter to aid in the cooking process.
See that stone? It’s screaming hot. Don’t touch it. (Even if it’s only 18 inches or so away from your face.)
Our chef proceeded to prepare the beef for us, ever so carefully searing it until it was just done on the outside.
Because he was awesome, he also added some of the extra fat back to the serving platter (don’t judge).
Yes, the bites are tiny. They are meant to be savored, and not consumed with wreckless abandon while talking about — well, anything. This is an experience, and worth enjoying at least once if you are a major meat lover.
Sigh. A moment. To remember. (And ponder the next time I’m getting it. Gotta check that bank account balance. And see if this is included on the dining plan. ;-D)
While I was left alone in bliss to savor my beef, one of my friends dug into her Orange Chicken. The tempura chicken is glazed in a light Florida orange sauce and is served with Chinese broccoli. We loved the fresh flavors and perfectly executed version of this classic dish.
Another friend went for the Kung Pao Chicken, and enjoyed the spicy savory broth and crisp-tender veggies in this lighter-for-you entree.
We had a chance to sample the Branzino last year, and I have to tell you — if you love fish, don’t miss this! It’s incredible! (So says my friend anyway. I mean, it’s not my bag. But you do you. )
For our final entree, my other friend opted for the Duck Ramen, with egg noodles, duck meat, and a soy-marinated egg. The broth had that wonderful umami thing happening, and she enjoyed the rich flavors in the somewhat lighter dish.
While we were more than satisfied with our meals, we decided to take a look at the dessert menu.
It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that dessert really isn’t this restaurant’s strength, since this type of dish doesn’t really figure prominently into traditional Japanese cooking. Still, we’ll share what we found.
If you must have dessert at Morimoto, the Churros are a solid choice. Fresh with that crispy outside and tender inside combo, these are as delicious as any churro you’ll experience. And as an added bonus, they come with two dipping sauces — one in a little bowl (vanilla cream) and Nutella in a tube. (The smiley face was our idea.)
But here’s where we’ve gotta show Morimoto Asia a little tough love. Behold the resident spectacle dessert: the MM Parfait.
This…creation…includes chocolate cream puffs, vanilla gelato, hazelnut “crunchies”, and sesame mochi. There was also about a can of Cool Whip, various sauces, fruit, and flowers. Because…why?
So, spoiler alert. We love you Morimoto Asia. So please. Stop trying so hard with this…whatever it is. Because. NO. It doesn’t taste good. And it’s weird.
Cede the dessert title to nearby Sprinkles, Amorette’s, or even Vivoli Gelateria. And you just keep doing that Peking Duck and that Wagyu voodoo you do so well.
Nosh or Not?
You’ll love Morimoto Asia if:
- You’re an asian food fan. They do all kinds, and they do it all well.
- You’re looking for a great date night, or looking to impress someone with dinner.
- You’d like something a little higher end, and a little less “Disney.”
You might want to skip Morimoto Asia if:
- You’re on a budget.
- You’ve got super picky eaters who have never tried Asian food before…and maybe skipped their nap that day.
- You’re not an Asian food fan.
I kinda just gave it away, didn’t I? Morimoto Asia is a winner in terms of the dishes they offer. There’s huge variety, and as far as we can see, they do it all very well.
It’s also just a stunning restaurant. There’s so much to see at every turn, especially from the second floor. Go up to check that area out, even if you aren’t seated there.
But it is extremely pricey (although you can choose from dishes, like the Ramen, that don’t break the bank). If you’re dining here with the Disney Dining Plan, it will cost you two table service credits.
Still, if you’re looking for something kind of special, and kind of sophisticated, I’d urge you to give it a try. And if you’re a beef lover like me, save those pennies and get the Wagyu because it’s So. Worth. It.
So let me hear from all of you now — will you be heading to Morimoto Asia for an indulgent meal on your next Disney trip? Leave a comment and tell me what you think!