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Apr 6, 2007 10:59 AM


I hear that Morimoto in Philadelphia has the best sushi on the east coast, but that it can be pricey. Do people recomment I take my sushi loving boyfriend as a splurge??

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  1. Whoa! Morimoto is great and all, but best sushi on the east coast? No way. Take your boyfriend to Zento instead.

    Actually the sushi at Morimoto is pretty reasonably priced, it's the regular menu that's expensive. It's definitely good sushi, but not the best in the city, and certainly not the best on the east coast.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Buckethead

      Actually, the head sushi chef/owner is a former sushi chef from Morimoto. A decent number of his dishes are right from the pages of Morimoto's menu (the tartare and carpaccio dishes and the tuna pizza, for example). He learned a great deal from his time there. I suspect he learned a lot about obtaining more unique and exotic fish in the philadelphia market for his menu there.
      The main difference is Morimoto has a LOT more money to throw around. Therefore, they have a larger selection of more exotic fish and other ingredients. Things like uni and seasonal fish are more likely to be available at Morimoto.
      I love both restaurants. Zento is great! I love the experience of being at a family owned and operated restaurant with such great food. I just think it deserves to be noted that Zento might not be possible without the experience the chef gained working at Morimoto.

    2. Morimoto is good, but more of a conversation piece. I'm sitting next to a guy in an airplane traveling to Seattle and he finds out I live in Philly. "Hey have you been to Pat's?..... Last time I was there, I ate at the iron chef's place......"

      I live in the neighborhood and when I think of sushi, I'd much rather patronize other places. If you want atmosphere with your dinner, go to Morimoto. If your boyfriend knows a little more about sushi (likes and dislikes), take him to Zento. If you want a really personal experience, go to Uzu. If you want him to break up with you, go to Anjou.

      1 Reply
      1. re: juice

        I also heartily endorse Uzu. What could be better than eating in a small place with friendly staff (1 waitress!) eager and enthusiastic about having you try new things? I'd rather not spend time or money in a sleek, plastic restaurant that periodically changes colors. Just give me some good food and let me out of there!

      2. Morimoto has excellent sushi, but it didn't bowl me over. Guess I had high expectations. I thought Pod's sushi was just as good (NOT from the conveyor belt).

        I think a great date place for sushi is Swanky Bubbles. Quality sushi every time I've been there, plus their other food & champagne cocktails are delicious!

        2 Replies
        1. re: lawgirl3278

          1. Swanky bubbles is not a Japanese restaurant, the first rule of good sushi is to eat it in a japanese restaurant. The food at swanky is also mediocre, it's a trendy champagne bar. Great for drinks but not food and not especially sushi.

          2.Morimoto is good but it isnt the best sushi on the east coast.
          Morimoto has excellent sushi as does Zento, Zento however presents a better Value.
          Any restaurant can buy Uni anytime.
          I would go to Zento or Morimoto if you want to "splurge".
          The best sushi on the east coast is clearly between the restaurants "Karumazushi" and "Yasuda" which both blow away Morimoto.

          1. re: Chowtalk

            I'm sorry but I have to disagree. "The first rule of good sushi" is not to have it in a Japanese restaurant. My guess is that it would be something along the lines of fresh fish? Well-made rice? I lived in Japan for a long time, and in this case I'm certainly not biased, but it bothers me when ethnicity/nationality are factored into a final product. Half of the "fantastic szechuan" cuisine you've ever eaten is made by back-house Taiwanese or Fujianese. Eaten "great Indian"? Most times you'll have to learn to say thank you in Bengali. I've never been to Swanky Bubbles, and its certainly not Japanese, but let's not rule out good sushi simply because it wasn't made by a Japanese person.

        2. I agree with the posts about Morimoto but thought I'd add the comment that the sushi is BORING at Morimoto. For an "iron chef" that pushes the envelope as far as wacky combinations are concerned, I was surprised when I ordered the omakase and got pieces of tuna, salmon, eel and a california roll. Are you kidding me?!
          Again agreeing with the other posters, I think Uzu is the best sushi I've had in Philly. You get more for your money there than at Zento. I found Zento to be somewhat boring as well and way too pricey. Uzu at least has some fun and interesting rolls... and you can make your own combinations! Just be sure to make a reservation. With 18 seats, the place gets crowded, esp. on weekends.

          17 Replies
          1. re: jimilady

            Is there a "traditoinal" old school sushi bar in Philly? I am looking for a sushi chef that has trained with a well-known chef in Tokyo and knows his fish well. One that would raise a disapproving eyebrow if I try to order uni when it's slightly off-season. One that would serve Ankimo instead of rolls (don't really care for those)...

            1. re: newerjazz

              Yes, there are. But the overwhelming majority of sushi fans here on Chowhound would have little or no interest in such places. But my wife and I are hard core and know of a couple of places that serve in the style you desire. Unfortunately, I'm not going to reveal here these places as getting the itamae to serve traditionally and omekase style is uncommon. Search the internet and you'll find the info you are looking for. :-)

                  1. re: jwbausch

                    jwbausch, you sound like the kid who was picked on an awful lot at sometime in your adolescence. Unfortunately for you, we're not those kids who picked on you, so stop trying to get back at us.

                    What we are, however, is a group of people who enjoy not only good food but the pleasure of passing on and receiving tips about it. If you're only going to take part in half of that, or flaunt your reluctance towards any of it, please refrain completely.

                    By the way, as a person who actually lived in Japan and speaks Japanese, no one actually calls the sushi chef "itamae". Especially no one "hard core"

                    1. re: hungry_san

                      Hungry_san: please let me know the proper term for a skilled sushi chef. My favorite sushi chef, trained in Tokyo, told me that itamae is an acceptable term. But perhaps I was picked on too much as a youngster to be able to understand him. ;-)

                1. re: jwbausch

                  This is at least the second time you have posted with vague allusions to some superior places that none of us peons could possibly appreciate. Why bother posting if your only agenda is to send the message that you are superior to the rest of us? If you are that insecure, asserting your superiority on an anonymous message board isn't likely to help.

                  On the other hand, if you believe in the spirit of Chowhound, you could actually be helpful and specify the place(s) you refer to. I, for one, would certainly like to know if there are any places in town that could come close to approximating the wonderful experiences I have had at Sushi Yasuda in NYC.

                  1. re: jwbausch

                    jwbausch, can you define hard core?

                    1. re: ceejoi

                      Hardcore = jwbausch and his wife
                      Not hardcore = everyone else

                      1. re: Buckethead

                        Is this not the greatest thread ever? Just had dinner at Uzu. It was awesome as always. They have six new 'special chef rolls.' I'd tell you what they are, but unfortunately, I'm hardcore.

                      2. re: ceejoi

                        Sure. My "hard core" would include things like mozuku, nikokgori, and engawa (although engawa is not real hard to find in Philadelphia, but finding it real good is very hard, IMO).

                        The first two I've had at Genji downtown sitting in front of Hosaka-san. Yes, the Genji that sometimes gets poorly reviewed here by some Chowhounds.

                        Ceejoi: give me your favorite, perhaps unusual, things to get at the sushi bar.

                        1. re: jwbausch

                          yeah you're hard core for me. never heard of that stuff before.
                          i just didnt know what you meant by hard core.
                          i don't normally get anything unusual but i really like uni. yum!

                          1. re: jwbausch


                            What language is that supposed to be? It's not Japanese.

                            But hey, what would I know, I only lived in Japan for 4 years. Perhaps my Japanese is a little rusty.

                            Or maybe my notion of kuidaore isn't what it used to be.

                            1. re: Boognish

                              Nikokgori is a squid dish that Hosaka-san serves at Genji. I've asked many other itam..... no wait, that isn't the proper term according to somebody in an earlier post that also lived in Japan like you... I've asked many other sushi chefs about this dish and they all seem to think it is something rather specialized from Osaka. If you visit Hosaka-san at Genji, please mention this specialty to him and post back so I can learn more about it.

                    2. re: jimilady

                      sorry to cause so much trouble...i just move from seattle to philly. shiro's at seattle is a serious traidtional old-schooled sushi bar and I have enjoyed many omasake there. shiro truly love shis fish and his eyes just sparkles when he serves unusal fish imported from japan. i am just hoping to find something similiar here. please email me a goddoesnotplaydice atatatat any "secret" restaurants you may have found.

                      1. re: newerjazz

                        Fuji, under the aegis of Matt Ito ought to be opening soon in Haddonfield/Collingswood area. Matt Ito could be exactly the person you are looking for, but economic development cost him his site in Cinaminnson, N. J. several months ago. I can't wait until he opens up again.

                        My friend and I sit at the sushi bar, without ordering, and for about 6 years Matt has been surprising us and delighting with his unusually fine wares--quality, presentation over the moon, but reasonable considering quality.

                        1. re: Bashful3

                          I think that this is in fact one of the correct answers, although it's more in line with the new age of sushi ala Yasuda (which is fine with me).

                    3. kisso on 4th and south. awesome sushi. byob