Strangely, none of this food finds its way onto Morimoto’s omakase menu, which costs $120 and is worth every penny. By definition, of course, omakase changes according to the chef’s whim, but the one I enjoyed included steamy pots of freshly made tofu larded with truffles, portions of rose-colored hairy crab flown in from Hokkaido, and tastings of fugu salted with monkfish liver or batter-fried in a style the chef describes as “Kentucky Fried Fugu.” The desserts on the regular menu include a soufflé ingeniously flavored with red miso, and a chiffon-colored square of tofu “cheesecake” decked with shavings of chocolate. But none of these items had quite the impact of the final act of Morimoto’s omakase. This was a simple bite of persimmon, flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen and served with a tiny silver spoon. It was as hard as a walnut but melted, as you ate it, to a kind of smooth, fruity sweetness. The result was subtle, ingenious, and refreshing, which is to say it was about as different from your average Godzilla-restaurant dining experience as it could possibly be.
Address: 88 Tenth Ave., nr. 15th St.; 212-989-8883
Ideal Meal: Chef’s omakase; soft-shell-crab roll; pork kakuni; “Duck, Duck, Duck”; tofu “cheesecake.”
Note: The Great Japanese Godzilla-Restaurant Battle encompasses restrooms, too. Not surprisingly, the toilets are fully automated, and the perfumed stalls pleasantly decorated with orchids.
Hours: Dinner daily, 5 p.m. to midnight.
Prices: Appetizers, $9 to $23; entrées, $23 to $98. Omakase, $120.
Scratchpad: The main dining room gets two and a half stars, the sushi gets three, and the omakase gets four. So we’ll give this gifted chef our Excellent rating, provided he doesn’t abandon the joint for his other far-flung restaurants once the reviews come out.