Reviews for Restaurant Morita
9 days ago
We were really looking forward to dinner at Morita but last night was it was a big let down
The service was really disorganised, lots of our first choice selections were not available which was disappointing for an early booking
However the food we finally did order was tasty and nicely presented on an eclectic array of dishes
The level of disorganisation was such that I worked out later that we were probably undercharged for what we ordered
We are not likely to return but hope others have a better experience
by William Bromley
14 days ago
This place is awesome the seasonal menu of beef cheeks, tongue, and rib eye is orgasmically delicious! The staff is friendly and the prices are reasonable. Will definitely recommend this place to my chef mates!
2 months ago
Went here for lunch with a friend. The staff were very friendly and welcoming. I got an off menu lunch set they were offering which included friend salmon, sashimi with miso, rice and a salad. The fried salmon was quite oily but it's to be expected when frying a fish like that. The sashimi was great, very fresh and melts in your mouth. We also order the salmon sushi roll which turned out to be quite average with a bit too much mayo on top. Overall, morita didn't disappoint although I'm curious as to why this is called french and Japanese fusion as nothing on the main menu struck me as being fusion.
by Michael Fleck
3 months ago
I usually stay away from Indian food, as I cannot handle the hot spices.
This Ela meal was a brilliant exception. . .enjoyed in the lively shared dining
hall of Elliott Stables, downtown Auckland. Ela's food is light, exquisitely flavoured,
and beautifully presented with grace and smiles of joy.
4 months ago
I'd been here once before and with a revisit when the same Japanese visitor id in town only tells me this is a good Japanese restaurant. Entrees excellent selection from their menu.
7 months ago
Have been here quite a few times for lunch. While the food doesn't thrill me, it is a nice place for a quick lunch that is reasonably priced.
by Maniel Dartin
7 months ago
The quality of the food was great. 5 star, or at least verging on it!Was disappointed with the fact that my mains came out about 2 minutes after my entree. hardly had a bite of it!While the quality was amazing, the quantity was abysmal, even by high class restaurant standards. Unless you're ordering pasta, (which is a decent size) I'd recommend ordering in triplicate if you want to walk away satisfied,
10 months ago
Japanese and French restaurants are dime a dozen in Auckland but when it comes to the eclectic blend of Japanese and French fusion cuisine, Restaurant Morita definitely dominates the scene. Tucked away in a corner off the hustle and bustle of Auckland's main street, Morita is a rather unassuming eatery but it has gained well-deserved reputation as one of the best restaurants in town.
While it prides itself on Nouvelle-style offerings, Morita's lunch menu features a collection of dishes better known as ‘yoshoku’, essentially the Japanese take on Western food. Yoshoku may not be what people usually refer to as Japanese food but some of these items (including omurice, the hearty hamburg steak and the 'Japa-Mex' taco rice) are as much a staple of Japanese dining as are the ubiquitous generics as sushi and ramen. The restaurant original omurice risotto pot had us intrigued, though knowing too well that risotto is a notoriously hard dish to conquer (obviously been watching way too much MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules), we chose not to take the risk. Instead, we decided on two items listed on their "Daily Specials" menu: one order of omurice with scotch fllet steak ($16, usually priced at $18), and two chicken bento boxes ($25).
Before our mains were served, the polite waitress treated us to a complimentary piping hot cup of green tea, as well as a bowl of complimentary soup each. The bowl consisted not of miso soup, but a creamy concoction of onions, bacon and mushrooms – a take on the classic French onion soup which totally struck umami gold. A surprising but pleasant gesture!
My omurice arrived shortly after. A portmanteau of ‘omelette’ and ‘rice’, omurice is, in its basic form, exactly what it sounds like: fried rice encased in an omelette and then topped off with tons of ketchup. The Morita twists to this humble comfort food are the buttered rice and the double serving of cheese (mozzarella underneath and parmigiano reggiano on top of the omelette). Hmm, butter and cheese? I think I’m sensing the French inspiration here! The side salad was rather forgettable but the omurice and tender slices of medium rare sirloin steak (on a bed of caramelised onions) delivered. The chicken bento box was served in a pretty amazing, two-tiered bento box, with chicken teriyaki and tempura residing in the bottom layer, and fresh sashimi on the top. The salmon, I was told, was the star attraction (pity there was only one slice), though the sashimi as a whole is unbeatable for its freshness and generous portion.
The interior of Morita is decorated simply, decked out in black with the restaurant's name painted in gold cursive lettering on the main wall. The dim lighting made for an elegantly casual and classy yet cosy atmosphere. The chefs also thanked us as we left, which was, once again, a lovely gesture.
Extremely good value for money, with its quality on par with more high-end restaurants. Morita may have failed the make the cut for Metro’s Top 50 Restaurants these past two years, but it certainly deserves a place in my list of favourite eateries in Auckland.
P.S. Thanks Tiffany and Yatchi for the great company!
11 months ago
A last minute discovery, an unexpected surprise.
We had just spent the entire day out of the city and returned hoping to find some late dinner. The door said opened Til late so we popped in anyway. It was 10 minutes until the kitchen closed and we were the only ones there, but the waitress kindly sat us down anyway. We did not feel rushed in anyway and the food was delicious and beautifully presented. We ordered the tuna tataki, agedashi tofu, grilled salmon with teriyaki sauce, double scotch steak and omu rice. The portions were a lot bigger than we had anticipated! But we managed to eat everything because it was all so good! Definitely recommended, a true hidden gem.
Jul 06, 2014
If there’s one way to win my heart, it’s when you get your value for your money. Considering the fine dining feel of the place (think of the dark and modern interior of Mandarin Dumpling and Bar, but not so oriental -themed), the quality of the food (and ample portion sizes!), the beautiful presentation, I was quite frankly astonished at Morita's prices. Lunch and Dinner mains are usually around the $15 mark. Unfortunately, Morita's menu appears to change often, so what I originally wanted to order was not available anymore. We were surprised with a complimentary soup starter- I think it was Mushroom soup which was creamy but not heavy, and enriched with the flavour of smoky bacon. It was a delightful way to begin (and perfect for the temperamental weather).
Yatchi and I ordered the Chicken Bento Box ($25.00). The first layer consisted of sashimi, 2 pieces of nigiri sushi, soy sauce, and a sesame-dressed salad. I felt the waitress could have informed us there was sashimi on the bento box in the first place though (when I asked if there was sashimi on the menu). But I like surprises (good ones!), so it made my day. The salmon nigiri made me die a little inside, the salmon was so smooth and fatty, and the rice was laced with enough vinegar to make it’s statement but not so that it is overpowering. One thing I’ve noticed whenever I have sushi is that I can never taste the vinegar in the rice.The second layer was the chicken, an assortment of vegetable tempura, and a soy dipping broth. I like how this is healthy without being obviously so. There is no description about this dish so I assumed it would be a typical bento of rice, fried katsu chicken, miso soup and tempura so I got rather excited when I saw the dish being served. There was no rice, but I’m fine with that because rice is a cheap filler, so I’m getting more than my money’s worth.
The green tea here is served in unique looking cups. This tea is so different to your usual supermarket blends. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it definitely screams “I’m Green Tea!”
Mira ordered the Steak Omurice- Buttered rice wrapped in an omelette ($16.00). Inside the omelette is buttered rice with mozarella cheese, and topped with fresh tomato sauce with grated parmagiano reggiano. The location of Morita is great as well, it’s situated in Auckland CBD- just turn into the street where New World near Britomart is.
For a more in depth review and photos, please visit my blog: http://heartshrooms.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/french-japanese-restaurant-morita/
Jun 23, 2014
I discovered this place because of my friend who happens to be a Japanese and we went here at lunch time to have a pre-birthday celebration before she leaves for Brazil for a holiday. I sometimes go here for lunch which is very convenient to my tertiary institution where I'm studying and I always order the Beef Omurice. The omurice sets are the best wherein you can distinguish that combination of french and japanese cuisine.
On the negative side, I noticed that they often change the menu and price (higher) at the same time and they are only open for lunch but at least 7 days a week now.
May 14, 2014
Rating it for what it is - really affordable top quality food. Our meals were delicious and our waitress was very polite. Only a couple of tiny gripes, no napkin was provided for myself and my glass looked a bit dirty, but these are very small things when considering the price and the high quality of the food. The basement location reminded me of something that could be a club, but they worked well with what they had.
by Tina Wu
May 06, 2014
I've been craving for some omurice these days so decided to search up places in town that does sell them. Even though this is a French/Japanese fusion cuisine I thought I should go give it a try.
I ordered the plain omurice and my friend had the beef steak don. The food arrived quite fast and my omurice looked very appetising and big portion (the photo that was stuck on the glass window outside looked like it was a small portion) the egg omelette was cooked very nice and soft with some grated parmigiano reggiano for extra texture and flavouring, I must say that the tomato sauce they used tasted very sour which I really enjoyed! Unlike those cheap tomato sauce that's full of sugar. The rice inside the omelette was plain but lightly buttered which goes well with everything. I had a piece of the beef steak from my friend and it was nicely seasoned.
Overall, it was a nice first time experience and I would definitely recommend it to my friends and will go back for more!
May 04, 2014
My friends and I came for dinner the other night, it was just fabulous! We got the monthly degustation which was really cheap for what you get! We loved all the courses and were really satisfied after the meal. The only negative thing I have to say is that they aren't very good at English so it can be a little difficult to communicate with them but all in all, a lovely restaurant with great food!
Sep 26, 2013
Morita Great Creative Fusion. We had a great surprise at Morita last night. This somewhat secluded Japanese French Fusion restaurant on Swanson Street in Auckland was a real treat! With food priced at $10.00 or $20.00 you just cant go wrong. The food was delish-us, service friendly and decor much like the food. Raw and tasty. Ha! Try the Wagyu beef for 20. Japanese plum wine with soda $14 and the amazing vege and prawn tempura was worth every bit of the 20 smackers. We were gobsmacked when we tried the chefs special dessert parfait with wheeties! S-p-e-c-i-a-l-! Foodies will love it.
by Owen Wang
Sep 09, 2013
Morita. Morita. MORITA! This restaurant is excellence defined. A simple visit has made this place my new favourite.
Marvelous. Simply Marvelous. I ordered a scotch fillet omurice and a Japanese creme caramel for lunch. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and its unique combination with the omurice made the dish absolutely fantastic. Indeed, the steak was of a superior quality than what I would expect from other metro casual dining restaurants at $30. Everything, especially the desserts, were beautifully presented. My friends who ordered donburi and hayashi rice also voiced their high approval at the table.
The staff were very courteous and fluent in Japanese, which added to the authentic feel of the place. The wait time was on average around 10 minutes, which is amazing considering the complexity of the meals and how packed the place was.
Amazing. Remember that steak I talked about? It cost me only $16! Why oh why would I go to some other place for their inferior $30 steaks when there is Morita? The restaurant offers crayfish and wagyu at only $20 per serving at dinner time, but also provides Donburi and Omurice as cheap as $10. I noticed that the serving size tend to be slightly bigger than what I would usually expect from a Japanese restaurant. Indeed it was the cheapest but also one of the best meals I've ever had.
Throughout my experience, I felt that this restaurant was one born out of passion. It's pretty popular, so you'll want to make bookings on Fridays, and arrive early on other days at their opening times. Unique menu, excellent food, superb service and mind-blowingly low price - there is little more one can ask for in terms of casual dining. I very much look forward to my next meal at Morita!
Jul 25, 2013
Nestled in the back streets of Auckland city is a basement restaurant called Morita. It claims to serve French and Japanese bistro food. Not as unlikely a combination as you might think, as I have discussed before on this blog. At the very least it is an intriguing possibility and it happens to match with two of my favourite cuisines.
Down a side street and down some more stairs, Morita is not exactly prime location, but perhaps like many great restaurants that eschew the trendier parts of town to survive on reputation this is what Morita is going for. Morita is spacious, tall ceilings, concrete everywhere, it is a basement after all. Translucent fabric hangs from the ceilings to help reduce the intimidating size. Empty wine bottles act as displays. Frankly it feels a little dated and kitsch. The concrete and size of the space makes it a little cold and distant. For me the whole place feels a little soul less, whether it is the large space, the concrete or the decor, I cannot shake a haunted feeling.
The service is polite and formal, but fortunately it manages to not be too patronising. There is little to say here, I do not think it was a detriment, but it was not superb either, efficient, would perhaps be a word for it. Not overly attentive, but by no means bad. I might describe it as perfectly adequate and above average.
The main thing I will deal with is the food. Morita, whether it is a good or bad, is intriguing. The menu appears to be exactly as advertised, A mixture of French bistro with Japanese food thrown in the mix. It is divided into two sections; a $10 per plate section and $20 dollar per plate section. You order a selection of dishes, which we generally shared, although there is no reason that you could not just order dishes for your self, perhaps as a kind of self made degustation. There is also a set menu available, but I am not sure if it is a better deal than simply ordering a la carte.
Chicken Galantine with Haloumi
Seeing galantines on menus is pretty rare. I enjoy cooking them, but to be honest, it is not often I see them. A galantine is a boned out chicken (or other animal, usually poultry), that is usually stuffed with forcemeat and then rolled and poached in stock. It is served cold. Its cousin, which is a bit more common is the ballantine, which is a boned out piece of meat, sometimes stuffed with forcemeat, rolled and usually roasted in the oven and served hot. A galantine is a technical dish. The chicken skin must be kept as whole as possible when removing it from the bone, poached to a perfect temperature and then allowed to cool in stock in order to absorb flavour. So this is the sort of dish I had to try.
The dish itself was pretty much as advertised, a boned out chicken, with a small amount of forcemeat, served with grilled haloumi and a salad. It was served at slightly above room temperature, not quite hot, but not cold either. I will admit the dish was underwhelming. It is really a kind of terrine or fancy sausage. I personally prefer a bit more forcemeat to add some punchy flavour, but the small amount of liver forcemeat did not really cut through the chicken. While the chicken was pleasantly cooked, which is good because dry chicken is pretty sad, it fell a bit flat. The accompanying salad however was excellent. The haloumi was also something I did not really understand. A part of me wanted to really appreciate this dish, understated, subtle, but refined. The dish however just could not bring that together. Haloumi is hardly a refined cheese, it is meaty and salty, without significant complexity of flavour. I think though the primary culprit was the galantine, while the execution was fine, the flavours did have that underlying complexity that a great galantine or terrine should have. These were not critical problems by themselves, but ultimately it just did not measure up, despite some excellent technical aspects.
Tataki is basically an equivalent to steak tartare, traditionally. Often at least in New Zealand it seems to be a carpaccio, which is similar enough to not raise any eyebrows. So this tataki resembled a carpaccio. The lamb loin was seared over coals, but left raw in the middle. It was then cut finely and served with mustard, avocado and fresh salads featuring daikon, radish, cabbage and carrot. While visually this dish may not look like much, it really is quite a triumph. There were three elements that went together to make this work. Firstly the lamb cooked over coals. This gave a smokey grilled flavour. What I loved about it was that it present in every bite. However it was not overpowering. My previous review was of an Argentinian BBQ, and this dish succinctly did, everything that the BBQ failed to do. It marshaled its ingredients, the grill instead of violently impregnating the meat, gently perfumed it, allowing the flavours of rare lamb to shine through. The attention to cooking and seasoning was also superb. The sauce was well balanced with the meat, allowing not only for the grilled flavour, but the lamb to shine through as well. Lastly the accompaniments were superbly consonant. Mustard is a classic pairing with lamb and the salad matched this as well, heightening the sharp mustard overtones.
My only complaints with the dish were small. Firstly the avocado puree was unnecessary. There is a beef tataki on the menu which I will discuss in a moment and I suspect the avocado is just a standard accompaniment in their plating, while it did not detract from the dish it added little. If they wanted a rich creamy pairing I would have gone with mayonnaise infused with a little dashi, but that is me. The second complaint is presentation. It looks jumbled and is not very neatly put together. Neither of these mattered much to me, because the lamb, salad, mustard pairing were so superb.
This is a similar dish to the lamb in concept. Rare thinly sliced beef, served with sharp flavours. This was also excellent, although the grilled flavour was missing. It was paired with avocado and mayonnaise. The avocado I found more complementary to beef and worked well. I think this was more nicely presented than the lamb too. A really good simple dish.
Soft Shell Crab Sushi
I have noticed several restaurants recently serving soft shell crab. This is a welcome addition to the New Zealand culinary scene in my book. For those not familiar, soft shell crabs are those that have just shed their previous shell and when cooked have a tender perfectly edible shell. This has a couple advantages as a cook, the most obvious of which is that the crab can be served whole without having the customer break it open to get at the meat. The dish itself did not disappoint. Tender crab, with acidified rice, mayonnaise and seaweed is delicious. I tried to order this on another occasion and was informed they had no crab, which may mean it is quite seasonal here. This was a really excellent dish.
Two large fried chicken drum sticks served with chips. The dish was unexciting. Firstly I am going to give their chips a hard time. They were soggy, dull and lifeless, on repeated occasions the chips have been uninspiring and completely unnecessary. I am not sure how such a staple goes wrong, but bizarrely it does. Considering how good their potato puree is, by comparison, I do not understand why they bother. Chips are a real hassle in the kitchen, they have to be cooked to order, they do not handle sitting around very well. I would much rather a simple potato salad, potato puree or something else that can be reheated and is better executed. The failure of the chips maybe due to attempts to reheat. The chicken itself was better, in particular it was perfectly cooked, which is no small order given how they were prepared. Deep frying technique was evident here, perfectly cooked chicken, moist and succulent with an evenly browned exterior. It is a wonder given the relative technical difficulty of the chicken, that the chips were sub par. The chicken was served with a slice of lemon. There was nothing actually really objectionable about the dish, given the chips were a minor accompaniment, but it was not that exciting either.
Grilled King Fish Wing
Another very simple dish, grilled king fish with a slice of lemon. I liked this better than the chicken. Firstly the fish was very well grilled, beautiful crunchy skin on the outside and meaty steaming hot fish. It demonstrates the beauty of the wing as a cut. The fish is nestled in between bone and skin and kept moist with plenty of flavour. I personally prefer my fish a little less cooked, but I would accept that the fish was probably cooked to a satisfactory level of doneness. Fish is tricky to cook well, getting the absolute correct temperature is a real skill. Having worked a lot with sous vide and seen the variety of internal temperatures at really good restaurants (anywhere from 48 degrees Celsius to 60 depending on the fish and preparation), I would say that the fish was nearer the top end of this 57-60 degree range. My point is I think this is acceptable, especially with meatier fish, even if my preference would be for about 5 degrees colder. Which is to say I guess the fish was excellently cooked. What was nice about the fish is that because it was so simply served, it really allowed the king fish to be star. King fish is one of my favourite fish and I think grilling is an ideal way to serve it. It did seem odd not to serve a sauce with it, given how sauce intensive some of their dishes were, but a slice of lemon was perhaps all it really needed anyway.
Ox Tongue with mustard and demi glace
Ox tongue is a wonderful cut of offal that sadly, like most offal is not well regarded. I love it and if you have not eaten it, I would highly recommend it, even for those that are scared off offal normally. The dish was simple a thick slice of ox tongue covered in demi glace with a side of mustard and some potato salad. It was hard to fault, delicious, rich and tender ox tongue paired with a beautiful perfectly clear demi glace. Ox tongue itself is not overly technical to cook, but the sauce here was the real winner. A good demi glace takes a lot of work, hours over a stove skimming stock and sauce. Mustard again worked a treat as a pairing, a really excellent little dish, for only ten dollars.
I love tempura, but it is a very demanding dish to cook. This is because if the batter is over mixed it takes on too much oil and becomes soggy. Regulating the heat is also extremely important and takes practice. Perfectly crisp tempura is a very difficult skill to master. Sadly while the tempura was not terrible it was not great either. The tempura was slightly soggy, while not the worst tempura I have ever had it lacked the crispness of really good tempura. This was a real shame, because the other technical parts of the dish were really good. The vegetables were perfectly blanched, the fish perfectly cooked and frankly, better technique in batter mixture would likely have solved the problem.
Lobster in Sauce Americaine
When Morita advertises its self as a bistro menu this is the sort of dish one might expect to see. This is a pretty good price for lobster. While I am discussing this, what is the difference between lobster and crayfish? In New Zealand this is a pretty good question. Technically lobsters live in the ocean and crayfish are fresh water. There are both endemic lobster and crayfish to New Zealand. However our colloquial terminology confuses the matter. The “crayfish” that most of us are familiar with is the Rock Lobster and lives in the ocean. It is a lobster not a crayfish. There is a freshwater crayfish called the Koura, which I believe is not harvested commercially, but can also be eaten. Anyway trying to identify whether it was actual crayfish or not is an open question. Rock lobster have no large claws and so do not look like a classical lobster. Anyway by taste I would say this was more reminiscent of lobster than crayfish, but then it had claws and did not look like rock lobster. This confused the matter for me and I left assuming that this was imported lobster, regardless it was pretty delicious. Sauce Americaine is a classic pairing with lobster and for good reason, rich, slightly spicy with paprika, enriched with stock, wine, tomatoes and sometimes tarragon, it is heady combination, that always leaves me wanting more. I will not say the actual lobster is the best lobster I have ever eaten, it was pleasant enough, but frankly the pleasure was to be served such a wonderful classic combination of flavours. It is a shame that this dish is not served more often in New Zealand. When I went a second time this was not on the menu, but given the difficulty of obtaining specific kind of seafood this is perhaps unsurprising.
Crayfish in Sauce Newburg
Another famous dish and classic accompaniment to crustaceans. Newburg is an egg yolk thickened sauce flavoured with sherry and stock made from the carcass. I think the crayfish was pretty good. I prefer sauce Americaine, but the flavour of the crayfish permeated the sauce. The crayfish itself was strongly flavoured, perhaps not as delicate as I would like, but well cooked. The potato puree quenelles were superb as well, buttery, rich and smooth. A good dish.
Duck with honey and mushroom demi glace
This is an odd dish. The technical elements are superb, the duck is perfectly cooked medium rare with great colour on the skin, the sauce is clear and free of fat, the potato puree, as with the crayfish is excellent. However the dish does not work for me. It is the combination of honey and mushrooms in the sauce. Individually both seem like good supporting elements for duck. Duck can benefit from sweetness and most meats benefits from the savouriness of mushrooms. However combined in the same sauce just did not cut it for me. A missed opportunity, given its technical excellence.
Wagyu Beef with Wasabi
I have had a lot of mixed feelings about wagyu. In principle it should be an excellent meat with its high fat marbling and tenderness. Since New Zealand wagyu no longer grain finishes its beef, the wagyu I have bought has been exceedingly lean, far more than the Angus and Hereford shire beef, which I generally think is superior in New Zealand. The beef though was excellent and again I cannot understate how much I appreciated grilled meat from Morita. Again the slightly charcoal flavours came through the beef, much like the lamb tataki. The sauce was well matched and the wasabi added
“French” Sushi – Foie Gras and Duck Sushi
I am a sucker for foie gras and so if I see it on a menu I am willing to give it a go. The sad part for me is foie gras is not allowed to be imported fresh or made here. So all we can get are canned import varieties. This means people need to be clever about how the use it. It will never be of as good quality as one would like, but I think you can still make do. The most obvious use to me is in pate, parfaits and mousses, since all of these adulterate the foie gras anyway and make its quality slightly less important. This is why foie gras sushi, is actually quite a good idea. They turn the foie gras into a mousse and serve it with rice, all of these should help to keep some of the richness of the foie gras without putting it to the front too much. Furthermore from a chef’s point of view it allows you to extend your yield of foie gras which is expensive. However the dish does not really work for me. It has one major problem. The foie gras, once it has been turned into a mousse really struggles to cut past all the rice in the sushi. It is lost amongst the rice and seaweed. So unfortunately the foie gras part of this is all show. The duck sushi is ok, served with wasabi, but the dish is a little lackluster to be honest. While presented nicely and a great idea, it just does not work sadly, it is perhaps a bone to the pretension that accompanies much of the food at Morita.
I might mention that the wine list is pretty decent if you go there. Remembering that it is neither a bar, nor fine dining restaurant, it has a pretty reasonable selection including quite a few French wines. One very pleasant surprise and I hope more restaurants take to serving it was the Heron’s Flight Merlot grape juice. It is non alcoholic and really delicious.
So Morita is a mixed bag when it comes to food. Its general style is perhaps consistent with bistro cooking, simple dishes executed with excellent technique. In this sense Morita is what it advertises. The dishes never contain too many components and are relatively singular. They rely on the technical excellence of their cooking. I think there are problems though. The first is really just the oddness of the place. That is the incredible attention to detail on things like sauces, potato puree, grilling and the like and yet the rather odd flavour combinations, technical problems with the french fries and tempura. It feels a little like the menu is attempting to be style over substance, a tribute to refinement over serious food. Maybe it is psychological, given the relatively cheap price of the food it perhaps strains belief that we are getting great crayfish for $20 dollars. Another issue related to this is the garnishes. If you go to the effort of perfectly skimming your demi glace, why serve the same garnish on the plate for the duck as you did the ox tongue? It makes the dishes seem formulaic, protein added to the plate, with the same old garnish. Why so much attention to detail in one area, but not the other? Which is not to belittle their cooking, but Morita’s is so alien in approach, that it mystifies me.
Related to this is a perceived lack of cohesion between the dishes themselves. The garnishes being formulaic is part of it, but also the menu. The lack of any emphasis on vegetables for example. When incorporated as part of dishes the vegetables are often the highlight, but it is far too rare on their menu. The broccoli in tempura was excellent, but what about with the steak? or the duck? Simply serving more potato, no matter how good their puree is, does not make up for it. The traditional shredded vegetables is fine, but not every cold dish needs to have an identical salad. Furthermore the lack of cohesion extends a bit to the menu, where are the seasonal ingredients and dishes? They have a special, which does change, but again seasonal produce would be good to see. The only tip to this I saw eating there in both summer and winter was that in summer there was potato salad and in winter there was potato puree served a garnish.
I am going to rant about one more issue, which is hardly unique to Morita, but is worth mentioning. That is the issue of wasabi. It is all well and good for most restaurants in Auckland to serve mustard powder mixed with a bit of dried wasabi and call that wasabi. It is not, wasabi does not hold its flavour dried. That bright green stuff that we all eat that is called “wasabi” is not actually wasabi, or rather it has some wasabi within it, but that contributes no flavour. Wasabi has to be grated fresh and begins to loose its flavour after a mere 15 minutes. It is hard to cultivate to boot. So I appreciate wasabi, that is fresh proper stuff is not cheap. However other Japanese restaurants manage to serve it, namely Cocoro. I appreciate that they are probably a band or two higher in price, but here is the point I will make. I would rather have cheaper cuts of meat and fish, in order to have real wasabi. The fake stuff we get which is largely mustard powder, is no substitute. Morita is hardly alone is serving us the fake stuff, I have been to more expensive restaurants that also serve powdered wasabi, but New Zealand does grow fresh wasabi, in the South Island and it is possible to get.
Morita does however do a lot right. As I have tried to make clear a lot of the details in their dishes are really good. The potato purees, the sauces (although a little more intense flavour would be nice for their demi glace), the grilled meats and some of their dishes are excellent. I would not want the reader walking away without understanding this, that I do really appreciate what they get right. It may sound like I have a long list of complaints and I do, but I have exposed Morita to much more scrutiny than I might for many restaurants at the same sort of price level. I have because actually I really like what they are trying to do. The are trying really hard, it is obvious to me. Where many restaurants succeed with poor technique, treating their customers like idiots and have no attention to detail, I can see in Morita an ethic that could turn them into a truly great restaurant. Perhaps it is the economics, perhaps it is their pricing or maybe something else, but I see in Morita a great potential to be a superb restaurant. As it is there are some delicious dishes, the lamb, ox tongue, lobster, wagyu and soft shell crab, but work out a way to include vegetables without just having salads on the menu and find a better way to serve foie gras. Give me some seasonal produce, make the sauces slightly more full bodied and change up the menu, because I see real promise. So for my readers do I recommend Morita? Yes I do, I think it is an interesting and rewarding experience. Especially for the price, you will hopefully forgive my fine tooth comb analysis Morita is a fascinating restaurant, odd, surreal, but pleasant and enjoyable.
Reposted from http://foodtrace.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/morita/
by Alex Landon-lane
Jun 27, 2013
Perfect. Just like the best modern Tokyo restaurants. I've already booked in for my next eating experience. Fantastic cooking, fantastic service and a great price. We have lived 6 years in Japan and recognise the great skill of Morita san in his sashimi cutting and a delicate hand in his French style Duck breast. Absolutely delicious. We made a special request for a side salad and it came out looking like work of art....and totally delicious with a noticeably Japanese flavour. We LOVE this place and plan on many more visits.
by Dene Wakerley
Jun 17, 2013
Courteous, efficient service. Delicious, fresh sashimi. Rice treated with respect.
My colleague had Omurice Scotch fillet which he rated very highly.
A real 'go to' for me when I want something a little different from miso ramen or middle of the road bento box.
$30 dollars for both meals (sashimi donburi was the daily special) but markedly better quality than the often good $12-$15 per meal fare one gets around the inner city.
A little gem.
by Jade Lim
Jun 12, 2013
My partner went to Morita with his Japanese friend for lunch today. Came back and told all of us all about his Omurice Beef Steak. His friend said that this is a Japanese favourite.
My partner has labeled this dish as 'God-like' and told us no words can describe his lunch today, but ironically he talked about it for more than an hour (non-stop).
And yes, he has promised to bring us there...possibly this weekend.
Seriously looking forward to this meal!
(will drop another review once we've witness this ourselves)
by Alex Ashmore
Apr 30, 2013
This place is a gem and totally underrated in Auckland. The food is streets ahead of many more expensive places - generous and creative. The staff are warm and discrete at the same time but the big star is the food. The sauces are fantastic and have had work put in, the duck is straight out of the 20th in Paris- and this is a Japanese restaurant. Clever and friendly!
by Tony Ma
Mar 12, 2013
If you want to experience a fine dining restaurant, with reasonable prices, this is the place to be. Their degustation menu is superb, and with a glass of wine you will never walk away still wanting to eat something else.
Their main's are great, all the food mixes perfectly and nothing I have experienced does not work. It fits together in a beautiful blend, great for dates and somewhere discrete :)
Suitable for all occasions, parties, dates, and more :)
by Andrew Caldwell
Feb 08, 2013
The Setting: elegant, restrained and intimate. It has a formal air but not in the overpowering way that some classier restaurants do - there was nothing intimidating about the setting or the service.
The Service: Excellent. The staff were watchful and attentive, filling glasses and answering questions cheerfully. Very professional, relaxed and friendly.
The Food: Amazing, really amazing. While booking for dinner we were asked what we might like. We requested a seafood based menu (there were four of us - one Japanese and three Kiwis) and asked the chef to prepare it however he liked. The chef went out specially earlier in the day to select the fish. He came to our table and decided on the menu after meeting us. There were five courses and they were each fantastic. The blend of French and Japanese was one I've never encountered before and I wouldn't call it 'fusion' because all the elements were both traditional yet innovative, rather than the more usual hotchpotch of fusion. The French elements were mainly in the sauces while the Japanese aspects were more in the food and presentation. The food was exquisite. Subtle flavours and delicious flavours. Two courses were degustation sized: a fermented roe dish and the best mussel dish I've ever tasted; and two courses were generous, a sushi-sashimi combo that was really innovative and a whole snapper baked in a bread/pastry case (which was like an oven for the fish, we didn't eat that part). The sauce with this was magnificent. The creme brulée was the best I've tasted.
I've eaten at many top restaurants that would charge hundreds of dollars a head for this sort of meal and it was only a fraction of that. This chef was trained at the very top restaurants in both Japan and France (hence the blend of flavours).
The staff lined up to see us off with huge smiles as we left. This was not a meal it was an experience. This restaurant is a gem—can't recommend it highly enough!
Nov 14, 2012
Some of the best food we've had in Auckland in a long time, both the Japanese food and the French food.
Service was fantastic.
Our new favourite.
Oct 30, 2012
My boyfriend and I took advantage of their $50 6 course dinner for two to try out this restaurant. We both enjoyed a full dinner complete with a fantastic dessert plate. We had great service and enjoyed the elegant atmosphere of this fine French-Japanese fusion restaurant. My boyfriend is a fussy eater especially with steak and he was very pleased with what he got. Definitely recommend it for a nice romantic night, especially for a special occasion
by Kristy Li
Oct 11, 2012
This is such a gem of a restaurant. The decor is classy and cozy, and the food is absolutely incredible. Their lunch menu is great value and generous, and their dinner degustation menu is so creative. Everything is always well presented and the service is so friendly and fast. I've been to Morita many times, and never get tired of it. Highly recommended!
by Jay Shin
Sep 04, 2012
I went in for lunch for the first time. The staff wasn't so attentive, waited for food over 25min which is understandable but my friend got served his meal while I still wait for mine. After I saw two other tables who ordered after me got served, I walked out of there after telling the staff. It is meant to be French Japanese? There is nothing French Japanse about the menu or the place. Never going back prob.
by Mar Harada
Jun 26, 2012
The meal here was absolutely delicious.
I have never been here for dinner as it is a bit too expensive for me, but the price at lunch is more than reasonable and very generous.
I would like to come here more often.
May 25, 2012
Have not yet had the pleasure of eating here for dinner, but lunch at Morita is not just delicious, but great value, with many options around $10. In addition to being well presented and tasty, I like the fact that these meals are always balanced with a portion of salad. Highly recommended!
Mar 01, 2012
It is a strange location for a restaurant - but when the food is this good, does it really matter?
We went on Valentine's day (repeat visit) because the food experience is so fantastic that it makes it special, and we wanted a long romantic dinner. We got that and again, the food was exquisite. For me, it's the best I've had in NZ...and when I think back to when I ate at Tetsuya in Sydney - I actually prefer the degustation menu at Morita. Every mouthful was heavenly and I have wonderful memories of both nights (so far) we've been there.
by Ryan Ashton
Apr 24, 2011
We went for a birthday dinner and initially I thought it was a rather sophisticated stuffy affair by the decor, however the service was hilarious and fun and very engaging. The wait team had us laughing every time they visited and the good thing was they didn't visit ever 2 seconds, just enough to ensure we were served and looked after.
French and Japanese fusion... WTF??? Yeah well that was what I thought til I tried the dishes... A+ for amazing.
While it was possibly a little slow towards the end, we were talking and enjoying a celebration so we didn't care as the discussion flowed and the experience was a culinary delight and full of surprises.
I was certainly a good experience and I highly reccommend the service, the flavours and overall experience.
by Sakiko Wada
Mar 13, 2011
We enjoyed the well presented delicious food and also the informative chat very much with the floor staff, young chef as well as the chef-owner.
The eight course dinner was similar to that of a love letter (as the chef-owner told us himself), which comes from the heart of the chefs when they make our meals for us. Each course is really an art form.
We recommend this restaurant for people who are in the mood for enjoying fine dining for the night.
They are still on the way to change the decor to their best style so looking forward to see the finish.
by Emma Mangellino
Mar 12, 2011
Unfortunately, we were very disappointed.
First of all, the decor is far too depressed - everything black. Low ceiling with no window, black wall has no a single painting just a mirror hanging on the end of the black wall. I felt this place is for someone to have his last meal before execution. Very sad atmosphere.
8-course came with very small portion and extremely long timing, but taste good.
Service is good however we don't like the way the waiter push us to do 8-course set menu. After all we just want to have diner which supposed to finish in an hour, we don't want to waste 3 hour there particularly when environment is bad.
So pricey unless you go with the time consuming set menu.
Excellent chef but cannot make this restaurant successful.
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