The venue As the first UAE restaurant for celebrity Chef Masaharu Morimoto, star of Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, Morimoto Dubai is everything fans of the Japanese chef and his cuisine could hope for. Since opening his first restaurant in Japan in 1980, he now has more than 15 restaurants in some of the world’s most famous cities – from New York to Mumbai. The eponymously named outlet located on the 23rd and 24th floor of Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai is an expansive space that includes a teppanyaki bar, sushi counter, three private dining rooms and four outdoor terraces, including private terraces with undisturbed views of the Burj Khalifa.
The design While the skyline views through the floor-to-ceiling windows are impressive, the interiors are a feast for the eyes as well. WA International designed the interiors to celebrate the chef ’s celebrity and Japanese heritage - Starting from the ground-level separate entrance, where a supersize portrait of Morimoto greets guests before entering the designated Asianthemed lifts to take you up to the 23rd floor, to the enormous Japanese lantern with ‘Morimoto’ tattooed over it hanging at the reception area. Once you step into the restaurant the design is more subtle and soothing in its earthy palette and textures featuring warm teak wood, black stone carved walls and bronze metal panels, folded at angles to reference the Japanese art of origami. Throughout the restaurant additional origami-inspired pendant lights feature over the dining tables and a variety of geometric shapes from floor to ceiling add visual interest. In the centre of the restaurant the upper level is visible and accessible via a black iron staircase that lit by huge cascading pendant lights, symbolising Japanese fireworks, which augment the glorious double-height space. A glass-enclosed Japanese rock garden with a five-metre-tall black Japanese pine preserved as its centrepiece reaches up through to the teppanyaki lounge and dining area on the upper level. Solid timber stools with black leather seat pads and leather strap handles, inspired by Japanese takeaway boxes, are located adjacent to the communal concrete dining tables, while Japanese ceramic pottery ‘seto-mono’ influenced the oversized iron-rod pots displayed throughout the restaurant. Even the bathroom has a moody design with black stone basins furbished in a bronze effect, which sit on slatted wood against a dark ridged wall and a tinted, backlit mirror.
The experience Chef Morimoto is famous for bridging Japanese culinary traditions and the American palate. This menu celebrates this success, from the hamachi tacos and tuna pizza starters to the theatrical presentation of my selected entrée – ishi yaki buri bop, a signature dish featuring yellowtail cooked in a large, hot stone bowl (the temperature topping 400°C) at my table. Piled high with rice, a raw egg and some sliced vegetables, the fish sizzles against the sides of the bowl and is ready in under two minutes. The sticky rice is sweet and the fish rich and flavourful. Of course, an extensive menu of sushi and maki, as well as many other intriguing options are well worth a try.