It seems the old adage "when one door closes, another one opens" rings true for Masaharu Morimoto — at least when it comes to Florida restaurants.
The Iron Chef will close Morimoto South Beach September 30, just about one year after the date of its opening. The restaurant's publicist would comment on the closure only with a statement by the Shelborne Wyndham Grand, where the restaurant is located:
Morimoto South Beach at Shelborne Wyndham Grand will be closing on September 30th. We want to thank Chef Morimoto and his culinary team for their work and time. We anticipate a new concept launching in time for Art Basel. In the interim, hotel guests and visitors alike will be welcome to dine in the hotel's Lobby Bistro for breakfast, lunch and dinner and enjoy cocktails in the renowned Drawing Room, Library Bar and poolside Oasis Bar and Grill.
Morimoto South Beach opened October 1, 2014, with the chef performing a traditional ceremoney of breaking a sake keg. The splashy restaurant featured dishes designed to stun the senses, with offerings sucha s a foie gras chawanmushi and a spherical chocolate dessert set aflame tableside. In a review, New Times' Zachary Fagenson said that "a delight can pop up anytime" at the restaurant.
Fans of the Iron Chef need drive only about 210 miles north to the Walt Disney World Resort to get their fix of the celebrity chef's food.
Morimoto Asia will open September 30 at the newly revamped mega-entertainment complex Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Coincidentally, Morimoto Asia opens the same day as the last meal service at the Shelborne Wyndham. A collaboration between the chef and Patina Restaurant Group, the three-story restaurant in Orlando features with a two-story terrace, a sushi bar sculpted from hundreds of pieces of hand-selected ash wood, and a 270-foot-long sculptural bar, billed as one of the largest in the world.
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Morimoto Asia will offer the Iron Chef's take on Asian-inspired crowd pleasers such as moo shu pork, Peking duck, lobster chow fun, sweet-and-sour crispy whole fish, and kung pao chicken. Dim sum will be offered during weekend brunch service and will include a variety of dumplings, shumai, bao, spare ribs, and other items. Because the restaurant is located in Disney, a children's menu features chicken ramen noodles, kakuni pork bao, and karage fried chicken — much more sophisticated kiddie fare than the standard mac 'n' cheese and chicken nuggets.
Looking forward to opening at Disney, Chef Morimoto says, “I am excited to create a menu that allows so many of my favorite Asian flavors to come alive all in one place. I hope the guests at Morimoto Asia have as much fun eating this food as I have creating it.”
The restaurant will also offer a traditional sushi service at a dedicated 14-seat counter, as well as a large selection of beers and sake, including Morimoto's signature brand. Morimoto Asia will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. for lunch, dinner, and weekend dim sum brunch.
No word on whether Chef Morimoto will open another restaurant in Miami, but he'll host a dinner at luxury developer PMG's Miami sales office in February as part of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The company is planning six South Florida projects, including Echo Brickell and the 50-story Muse in Sunny Isles Beach.