Morimoto Napa: The Latest Breaking News

UPDATE: My July 11th visit to Morimoto’s pre-opening (with pictures).

I recently received a comment about Morimoto Napa possibly being nixed, after the Iron Chef formed an alleged disagreement with developers about his condo at the Napa Riverfront (for those who may not remember, Morimoto’s purchase of a condo was what first allowed me to break news of his new Napa restaurant). Anyhow, since I already knew that the condo and the restaurant were part of a package deal, this rumor had an enough detail and plausibility to warrant some consideration. As I texted my inside source about this latest tidbit, I was already becoming disappointed by the idea, having become such a champion of Morimoto Napa from the very moment that I learned about it. As a local resident, I wanted downtown Napa to finally grow up and go Hollywood, if for no other reason than the world-class sushi that Napa Morimoto would offer (plus, I’ve also been craving an option for late-night dining downtown).

But despite my worries and concerns, my source quickly confirmed that Morimoto Napa continues to make progress, and that the deal is still very much on. This assertion was further bolstered today, as I gleaned some information about the restaurant from one of the project’s builders. Among the many things I learned, I suppose that the most interesting discovery — aside from the restaurant’s targeted opening date, which is the second week of July — is that Morimoto Napa will feature its own on-site brewery (for beer, not sake). I certainly didn’t see that one coming, but I’m on board with the idea, if that’s what the Big Man wants to bring to the Napa Valley.

In terms of the overall design and aesthetic for Morimoto Napa, the dining room and kitchen will be integrated in a fashion described as “beyond open,” with the concept that every table will be like a chef’s table, as the distinction between the kitchen and the dining room will blur in a progressive way. I was intrigued by this description, and I also learned that apparently, Morimoto will reinvent his restaurants with each new city he conquers, including Mexico City, Moscow and possibly Los Angeles. I was surprised not to hear Las Vegas mentioned among these future sites, but who knows really? It appears that the Iron Chef is vying for world domination.

Aside from these main items above, I also learned that Morimoto Napa will feature its own rice polisher (which has the Napa County Health Department scratching its head, since there is no precedent health code for such a machine), and that the restaurant should be finished four weeks before its opening date, in order to train the staff thoroughly. The executive chef will apparently be from Southern California, but not the Los Angeles area (perhaps Palm Springs or Santa Barbara). That’s all I’ve got for now, but it’s plenty. Stay tuned for more.

13 comments to Morimoto Napa: The Latest Breaking News

  • Barbara

    Nice scoop!!

  • Just saw Morimoto at lunch today in Napa!! So excited for his restaurant to open!!!!

  • The “brewery” he is installing is a way around having to purchase a $250,000 hard liquor license. If you have an on-site brewery and produce something like 100 barrels a year, you automatically qualify for a spirits license ala Downtown Joe’s and The Border/Tuscany (and although they tried, this move came a little too late to save Piccolinos). It’s a loss leader: buy $20,000 worth of brewing supplies, brew the beer, get the liquor license, pour the beer down the drain and you are still money way, way ahead.

  • Jo

    Does anyone know who they have chosen for their wine somm?

  • Michael Messmer

    Very exciting indeed. I left Napa two years ago, can’t wait to get back to wine valley kitchens. Hopefully this will be my opportunity.

  • kathi

    Oh please open soon!! We have been to the one in Philadelphia – Food – Spectacular! Decor – most innovative we’ve seen– hope this one has the lights at the booths!! Amazing! Hope he doesn’t keep us in suspense for too long – we keep waiting for opening announcement!! Will be a wonderful destination for Napa!!

  • El Gordo

    Haven’t heard about the Somm yet. FYI the rice polisher could also be used for Sake, don’t know if you would need a different brewers license b/c there’s no distillation involved…

  • ThirstyReader

    I asked about the sake possibility, but was assured that the tanks were specifically for beer. Maybe he’ll sell it in his airport restaurants.

  • ThirstyReader

    Sure, you can send it to… Thanks.

  • beadlady

    any more news?

  • ThirstyReader

    Well, I do know that the Big Man is hosting a charity pre-opening reception on Sunday, July 11th, which will benefit the Napa Valley Opera House. On a related note, he has also been spotted singing karaoke at Ana’s Cantina these last few weeks. My buddy has cell-phone video.

  • Brock

    Game is on. Invited “friends and family” for tonight’s quiet opening.

  • Rogers1lt

    Morimoto has been developing beer with Rogue Brewery in Newport,OR since 2003, so it makes sense to brew it on location!

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