Morimoto Asia is a table service restaurant at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World serving Pan-Asian cuisine by Iron Chef Morimoto. This review details our visits this new signature-caliber hotspot, with food photos, thoughts on ambiance, and other details about the experiences. In terms of basic info for vacation planners, Morimoto Asia is 1-credit lunch restaurant and 2-credit dinner on the Disney Dining Plan, and accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount.
The menu at Morimoto Asia (I swear the actual menu you receive in-person is longer than the online one) is like a Russian novel compared to most Disney restaurants. While variety is appreciated, both times I’ve visited I’ve felt like the waitstaff have struggled with menu familiarity. As a result, this is one location I wouldn’t mind seeing pare down its menu just a touch, and focusing on the items that really work. Much like The Boathouse, which also has a large menu, the prices range significantly here. Your per-person bill could be under $20 if you order a less expensive entree, or $100+ if you go nuts at the sushi bar and order the Peking Duck.
My apologies–we’re already a couple hundred words into the post and still haven’t talked about the greatness that is Iron Chef. If you have any sense at all, you watched and loved Iron Chef, and are thus already familiar with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Outside of anything with Anthony Bourdain, Iron Chef is about the only cooking show worth watching thanks to essentially turning food preparation into an outlandish sport. It’s basically Ninja Turtles + cooking + epic samurai battles. All the show really needed was light sabers to achieve next-level awesomeness the likes of which we’ve never seen.
Suffice to say, Chef Morimoto is a legendary chef, and has opened a few very high-end restaurants around the world in flashy places like Mumbai, New Delhi, Napa, and Tribeca. Eating at a restaurant by an Iron Chef is like getting Brad Pitt to play you in a movie, except more delicious.
Prior to it opening, I expected this to be a Morimoto restaurant in name only, with Morimoto simply licensing his name and cashing the checks. My assumption was that the Orlando market couldn’t sustain a chic restaurant serving haute cuisine. This is nothing against Walt Disney World restaurants–it’s just that outside of Victoria & Albert’s (which does not allow kids under age 10), this type of restaurant isn’t exactly Disney’s aim.
Well, I was wrong. Not only was Chef Morimoto heavily involved with the creation of the restaurant, but he was spotted on-site numerous times during its first several weeks of operation.
In addition to that, on my first visit the restaurant was absolutely packed, and skewed “hipper” than other Walt Disney World restaurants. There were some kids, to be sure, but it felt almost like a trendy restaurant in Chicago or Los Angeles than it did one in the heart of Walt Disney World.
So far, off to a good start. Now let’s take a look at whether the restaurant lives up to the reputation of the famed Iron Chef.
In terms of ambiance, the restaurant feels posh and trendy, as evinced by the random black & white portraits, fancy lighting, and swooping lines. Upscale, albeit loud. I don’t know why everything that’s “cool” needs to be so loud. Maybe I’m just getting old.
For my first dinner at Morimoto Asia, I joined Lisa and Josh of easyWDW.com. Some might say Josh and I are sort of like the Wiz Khalifa and Kanye West of this community. That is, if instead of being lit rap superstars, they were pasty childless bros who blog about Disney.
Still, I maintain that Josh and I have as much or more street cred than Wiz and Yeezy. Like them, despite our constant beefs, Josh and I respect one another’s game. I’ve found that he keeps it 100, as they say.
Anyway, the meal started with Josh and Lisa ordering some sushi. I don’t believe they were particularly impressed by it, but didn’t seem let down, either.
For a restaurant with this pedigree, I’d say that anything besides “exceptional” would be a disappointment in terms of sushi. On the other hand, the sushi on the standard menu isn’t unreasonably priced, so perhaps you need to head upstairs to the “secret” Forbidden Lounge for the good stuff.
Following that, we started by splitting the Crab Rangoon. This is a crab and cream cheese spring roll, with apricot sweet chili sauce. This was a consensus winner, and the crab (not krab) was plentiful and not overwhelmed by the deep fried roll or an abundance of cream cheese. The dipping sauce brings further nuance to the dish, with a sweet flavor and just a slight bite. My first impression at that point was pretty strong.
We also split the appetizer size order of the Morimoto Spare Ribs, which are simply a smaller version of the entree. Much like with calamari, I’m hardly a fair critic of ribs, as my scale for ribs only goes from “rad” to “bombtastic” and these are somewhere above the middle. Despite being explotatous (see, I’m just as hip as Kanye!), I thought these were a bit pricey for only 3 ribs.
For our main courses, Josh ordered the L.A. BBQ Kalbi, which is marinated & grilled boneless short ribs, house kimchi, and gochujang sauce. I don’t think he was particularly impressed by it, but perhaps he was just cranky because he didn’t get the normal 4.5 hour daily nap that bloggers require.
I ordered the Duck Nasi Goreng, which is Indonesian style duck fried rice, shrimp chips, mango papaya slaw, and sunny side egg. I was really impressed by this. The dish was sizable, there was a reasonable amount of duck, and it blended well with the rice. I think the dish would’ve worked flavor-wise without the egg topping it off, but it enhanced the Nasi Goreng a bit (and I only comment on that because sometimes it can be used as a crutch for a dish that is otherwise dry or lacking in flavor). This has already increased in price since our meal, but I’d still consider it a good option.
Sarah and I returned to Morimoto Asia in January and found it to be just as busy as before. It seems the popularity is not a matter of “new restaurant smell.” To my surprise, there’s the market for this type of restaurant and Boathouse in Orlando, which is probably in part due to locals, conventioneers, and even some tourists to whom the name cachet of Chef Morimoto appeals.
This time, Sarah ordered the Kung Pao Chicken. She felt it the vegetables were perfectly cooked and added an interesting element to the dish, but that this was all negated by the prevailing flavor of salt, which overpowered the rest of the dish. I tried it, too, and my criticism wouldn’t be quite this harsh, although I do agree that it was oversalted. I loved the mushrooms, but otherwise, I wouldn’t order this again, either.
By contrast, my Singapore Laksa Noodle was absolutely, unequivocally mind-blowing. This is a creamy coconut and spicy curry with rice noodles, chicken meatballs, and soy marinated egg. The highlight here is the creamy yet spicy curry, which manages to contrast with itself nicely, while everything else makes this an incredibly flavorful and inventive dish. This had it all: size, quality, texture, flavor, and a decent price. At $17 (or $12 for lunch–pro tip: several options on the dinner menu are also on the lunch menu at lower price points), it was an excellent value. Next time we head to Disney Springs midday, I’ll go out of my way to do this for lunch.
Then there’s the Mochi Mochi dessert, which consists of annin tofu, coconut mango soup, fruit boba, frozen mango, and lemon-yogurt powder. It’s fairly pricey at $14, but meant for sharing. That, plus the incredible flavor and variety of textures and refreshing fruit flavors made it an absolute winner. Again, inventiveness won the day here. About the only misstep from my perspective was the powder texture, which was a bit chalky and was too stark of a contrast to the rest of the dessert, but otherwise it was a home run.
Overall, Morimoto Asia is an excellent addition to the slate of dining options at Walt Disney World, and gives Disney Springs another solid new draw. It’s really unlike anything else on property, and is so much more than a celebrity chef’s name slapped on mediocre, mid-tier restaurant as I expected. It’s still not perfect, but when it’s good, it’s really good. All things considered, I’d still probably put it slightly below The Boathouse, but it’s another serious contender among Walt Disney World’s restaurants and one that could continue to improve once the staff gains a better grasp of the menu and the kitchen team iterates on some of the choices. It’s also a nice change of pace, particularly for those looking for an option that’s more adult.
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Have you eaten at Morimoto Asia? What did you think of the meal? What about the ambiance? Would you consider this a nice, adult option at Disney Springs? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments!