For all that Philadelphia-based restauranteur Stephen Starr has achieved locally with his design reach and culinary diversity in town—not to mention obvious hot stops in other spaces such New York City and Paris—one of his crowing achievements is certainly the now 20-year-old Morimoto.
Designed by Karim Rashid as an egg shell white orb touched with dramatic saturated colors in 2001, (it has been called a “magnificent piece of kinetic sculpture with straight, clean lines and glass partitions”), Starr’s space for his then-new partner – the toast of modernist Japanese cuisine and The Food Network’s beloved Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto – was as palatial as his menu was kingly.
“When we first opened the doors back in 2001, Morimoto raised the bar for Japanese cuisine in Philadelphia, and it has remained a staple to Philadelphia’s vibrant and eclectic culinary scene ever since,” wrote Stephen Starr, Founder & CEO of Starr Restaurants and Morimoto in an email note. “It’s rare to find a chef as talented as Chef Morimoto, and it’s been a true honor to partner with him for the past 20 years.”
To celebrate the rarity of two decades dining and working together — and the chef’s own long love affair with Philadelphia, where he built his flagship first U.S. restaurant — and to commemorate the exact date of its Nov. 13, 2001 opening, Morimoto in Old City will host an exclusive ticketed dinner this Saturday featuring a special omakase tasting menu experience alongside an appearance and cooking demonstration from Chef Morimoto himself.
“It has been an incredible journey opening Morimoto in Philadelphia 20 years ago with Stephen Starr, and I am so grateful for the support of our loyal guests that have come through the years,” says Chef Morimoto during a brief interview. “This was the restaurant that launched my career in the United States, and I take great pride that it helped set the standard for Japanese fine dining and elevated sushi in the United States.”
Since Morimoto’s launch in 2001, the chef has landed restaurants at MGM Grand Las Vegas, as well as in Mumbai, California’s Napa Valley, New Delhi, throughout Hawaii location, in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, at Walt Disney World in Florida, in Tokyo and other locations across the globe.
“But, while I have opened many restaurants across the world, Morimoto in Philadelphia will always have a special place in my heart,” says Chef Morimoto.
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the menu is an exclusive, one-night only 10-course omakase — the ultimate in trusting a chef’s choosing when it comes to selecting all that a customer will consume during this unique dining experience. Per Morimoto’s notes, the night’s menu (which starts with Platinum Caviar Dashi Royale and Blanc de Blanc, Pierre Gimonnet, Champagne from France) will also include throwbacks and longstanding menu favorites, such as the Miso Black Cod and Chocolate Pot de Crème, plus new items incorporating seasonal ingredients and delicacies including Perigold truffle and matsutake mushroom. The dining event will also include a special tuna breakdown demonstration showcased by Chef Morimoto himself in a presentation of true elegance in design and dining.
The 20th anniversary event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 13 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. for $200 per person with an optional beverage pairing for $85 per person. To make a reservation, visit opentable.com/morimoto-philadelphia.