Renowned Japanese Chef, Masaharu Morimoto, known for his seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients, has opened the very first Morimoto Restaurant in the Middle East, right here in Qatar. Morimoto at Mondrian Doha is inspired by the City of Nara in Japan and pays homage to the heritage of the country. FACT talked with the man himself to learn more about this stunning new dining venture…
Hi Chef! Describe for us the Morimoto Doha venue – what can guests expect to experience?
Expect to be transported to my home town of Hiroshima where you can enjoy the most authentic Japanese food in a truly beautiful setting. Food will include sushi, seafood, steaks and Sake, of course! Design is a huge element of Morimoto at Mondrian Doha as we worked with Tokyo based company Glamourous and our murals are by artist Hiroshi Senju.
We’d like to take it back to the beginning – what prompted you to get into the culinary world?
I had two dreams growing up, one was becoming a baseball player and the other was to become a sushi chef. After a shoulder injury, I dedicated my life to sushi and since then, I’ve applied myself to the art and practice of sushi every day. I started working at a local restaurant in Japan at 18 learning all about sushi and the art of Kaiseki, or Japanese fine- dining.
Your style of cuisine merges traditional Japanese ingredients with Western flavours – tell us about the signature items on the menu and what makes them appealing?
At Morimoto we have a wide variety of menu items inspired by my time in Japan as well as from all over the world. Braised Syrian farms lamb shank resting over saffron risotto, with dried cherry tomatoes, apricot and macadamia nuts. We have a fantastic selection of meats, seafood and vegetables from our traditional, charcoal, open fire Robata Grill. Also, there’s Whole Fish which could be replaced with the Seafood Toban Yaki with lobster, king crab, mussel, king trumpet mushroom, scallop and clam, served in a spicy red miso broth.
For diners with a discerning palate, give us three reasons why Morimoto should be their choice for a fix of Japanese food over anywhere else in Doha?
Morimoto has always been about three things – taste, presentation and quality. Morimoto at Mondrian Doha is no different. I believe this is what all discerning palates look for.
After so many years in the industry, what keeps you excited about cooking?
Whenever I go on a trip or open a new restaurant, I always find and learn something new. Local history, palate, and ingredients… they are all a source of my inspiration.
As a renowned chef, what matters more – taste or presentation?
It is about finding the right balance between the two. One cannot exist without the other. Looking at Morimoto in Doha, we have ensured the design of the restaurant is beautiful, transporting our customer to Japan but we have ensured the standard of our food is high quality. We eat with our eyes and mouths after all.
You’re a busy man – TV shows, restaurant openings, cookbooks,knives… do you still enjoy the grind? What keeps you motivated?
Morimoto Philadelphia remains as my original Morimoto where my culinary journey started. Whenever I go back there, I am motivated again remembering my first days building the Morimoto brand.
Aside from Japanese cuisine, what do you like to cook at home – do
you have a favourite dish?
I don’t cook at home at all. I enjoy eating whatever dish my wife makes for me.
Do you ever get star-struck – can you tell us who’s the most prolific person you’ve ever cooked for and what was that like?
I have had chance to cook for a number of celebrities and VIPs in the past. They’re all very special and memorable experiences.
Do you still feel the pressure when you’re in the kitchen – how do you keep your cool?
I laugh a lot and I try not to get angry! I have high-blood pressure, so I always remain calm.
Share with us your advice for young, budding chefs…
Don’t chase trends, rather learn them slowly and digest them. You should never copy them completely.
Over the next year, what are your goals with Morimoto Doha?
To keep our customers happy and satisfied. I want Morimoto in Doha to become the choice of restaurant not just for Japanese cuisine but for dinning in general. I want to set the standard in Qatar and in the Middle East for Asian-inspired cuisine.
GO: VISIT MORIMOTO AT THE MONDRIAN DOHA. GO TO WWW.MONDRIANDOHA.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION.