Iron Chef Takes on Napa

The urchin carbonara along with the spicy king crab appetizer and crispy whole fish are the restaurant’s best sellers. When Morimoto discovers I ordered the crispy whole fish, he laughs and tells me he is surprised he heard no complaints about the head—and eyeballs—that remain tact on the fish. As for Morimoto’s favorite dish, he can’t answer. “People ask me this all of the time. I have 48 items. It’s like if you have 10 kids, and I ask which kid is your favorite.”

Of course being in the center of viticultural excellence means you cannot disregard the wines. Their menu boasts a plethora of Napa Valley’s best grapes. In addition, the sake menu hosts around 30 varieties, giving diners the opportunity to have a true East meets West liquid experience.

Napa’s spirit isn’t just reflected in the menu but also in the ambiance. Organic sculptural elements, which are actually 100-year-old grape veins, zig-zag throughout the walls in the 180-seat restaurant that bathes in shades of gray, beige, and bronze. This is a true testament to not just the history and longevity of the Napa wine culture, but also of Morimoto’s dedication to its influence.

Dining at Morimoto is so much more than just a great meal experience. The entry hall hosts a Morimoto store of everything from prepared foods and sashimi-grade fish to cookbooks and kitchenware. A fresh fish and meat counter situates along the octopus mural wall. The restaurant design allows for an open kitchen where lucky guests can sneak peeks of the famous chef at work. The spacious layout generates a lively atmosphere; the outdoor dining patio, which overlooks the Napa River, is perfection on warm Napa nights. The bar and lounge are both constructed of natural stone and wood elements while pops of quirky mustard yellow arm chairs and plush sofas add a touch of playfulness and Tokyo to the restaurant’s décor.