Early Review: The Pre-Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

I was fortunate enough to attend the Napa Valley Opera House’s sold-out fundraiser at Morimoto Napa on Sunday evening, which allowed me to feast to my heart’s content while inspecting the Iron Chef’s brand-new Napa Valley digs. Tickets for the reception were $95, and about 200 people gathered to taste what was easily the best sushi that has ever been offered in Napa. The restaurant, which will also host a few press- and industry-related dinners in the early week, is now taking reservations for its Thursday opening. Considering the scope of Sunday’s event, and knowing how difficult it can be to launch a new restaurant, I have to applaud Morimoto Napa for handling the fundraiser with aplomb. Of course, the Big Man himself was on hand for pictures and a book signing. Towards the end of the night, I was actually turning away sushi and sliders (highly uncharacteristic), which can only mean that I was hopelessly beyond full. Here are just a few photos…

Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

In terms of sheer quality and skill, the sushi roll on the left really does speak for itself. So I'll just allow the photo to do the talking. On the right, a canapé version of Morimoto's tuna pizza.

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Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

Pork belly slider. This delicious belly was braised for 10 hours. Just one more reason to love pork.

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Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

Golden big eye snapper (kinmedai) nigiri. Simple, yet sublime. The fish arrives directly from Tokyo, just three days from the ocean in total. No one else in the United States can procure this particular fish in less than a week (they say).

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Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

Steamed scallop with ginger-lemongrass broth. Great flavors and a perfectly cooked scallop.

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Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

Vanilla ice cream over cherries, with chocolate-hazelnut shavings. A very nice dessert.

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Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

Macerated strawberries with ginger syrup and Champagne geleé. Also delicious to the last.

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Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

Interior view, near the Morimoto Napa entrance.

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Early Review: The Pre Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

Interior view, hallway mural (for perspective, there are probably about 50 fish in the entire mural, and the fishes' eyes are about as wide as your hand).

7 comments to Early Review: The Pre-Opening Festivities @ Morimoto Napa

  • Linda

    You must’ve been a VIP. We could not get food unless we hunted down waiters. The service was appalling. People were descending upon waiters as the food left the kitchen, and there were many angry exchanges we witnessed. Whatever food we did get was however, extremely delicious. Too bad we left hungry.

  • SkinnySweaty

    OK, great…now I’m jealous AND hungry. My wife and I will probably try to hit up the new place soon.

  • loserpeeps

    That’s why it was a “free” soft opening. So sorry you had bad free service. Don’t give anyplace a review if it was free!!!!!!!!

  • Thirsty Reader

    Although there were a few free “friends and family” and “industry” dinners leading up to the opening, the Napa Valley Opera House event was $95, just to clarify. The first hour was a little dodgy, for sure, but with a crowd of 200 people, I think it’s unavoidable, and it’s tough to blame the waitstaff if the patrons intend to stalk the food as it leaves the kitchen. For me, it seemed that things were pretty well dispersed once people had gotten their first couple bites.

  • Linda-

    It sounds to me as if you’re confusing the speed of food coming out with the service

  • Linda

    We were indeed part of the group that paid over $200 to attend. I’m not sure why loserpeeps assumed it was free, especially when the price was stated at the start of this entry. And believe me, I was not confused in any way. The staff was completely overwhelmed in terms of serving, and keeping up with demand. I think patrons were as patient as they could be after not getting minimal, or even any food/service while waiting at their seat. The Opera House communicated with me and admitted it outright. No hard feelings though. Whatever food we tasted was beyond delicious, and the restaurant is sure to be a hit.

  • Thirsty Reader

    I’m going to wait a month or two, just to let things cool down. But yeah, if I hadn’t gone on Sunday, I’d also be clamoring to go much, much sooner.

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