The who: Globally recognized chef and TV personality Masaharu Morimoto opens his 14th eponymous restaurant inside the newly renovated Shelborne Wyndham Grand in South Beach.
The space: The former Vesper space has been expanded and fully glammed-up with a massive open-kitchen sushi bar where an army of chefs assembles maki and raw dishes. The cocktail bar spans the indoor and outdoor dining rooms that seat close to 200 people. Cushy banquettes, oversize Japanese-style lantern chandeliers and mirrored walls round out the bronze and amber space.
The dishes: From small, Japanese-style tapas to larger mains. Prices are up there, with starters $8-$28 and mains in the $30s. A chef’s-tasting omakase menu is available for $140 a person.
Enjoyable riffs on simple Asian dishes include a Korean bibimbap with yellowtail tuna, as well as playful high-low combinations like rock shrimp tempura two ways: coated with green wasabi aïoli and with spicy red, tangy sauce. Hamachi tacos come two to an order and are dressed with caviar and fresh wasabi. The tuna pizza packs serious fire with jalapeño slivers and anchovy aioli. High rollers may opt for foie gras chawan mushi (a Japanese custard) or toro tartare artfully presented with nori paste, sour cream and wasabi
There’s miso black cod and Duck, Duck, Duck, which actually features the bird five ways. Maki rolls include BBQ eel, soft-shell crab with asparagus and salmon skin.
For dessert, Key lime tart is presented with liquid nitrogen ice cream. There’s also a chocolate orb doused with flaming liquor, and a decadent bread pudding.
The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for high-end Asian cooking and hip renditions of sushi, this sleek spot should do it.