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January 22nd

Is is worth paying $24 for half of a really good lunch.

I went to Morimoto today, as part of restaurant week, where for $24.07 a head, plebes like me can sort of afford a lunch at a top restaurant.

Let’s just get out one thing out of the way first. The place was great. It had to be great. It charged $24 a head and it run by an Iron Chef. At worse, a place like this would be “acceptable”. But it was great, and if I were made of money, I’d go again. What I want cover is to answer the question, “what do you get for $24.07?”. Because for $24.07 down in Chinatown, that is the total bill for an equally good meal for three people. So here’s what I got. So I’m going to use Noodle Village on Mott as a typical Chinatown eatery since I went there last week (it’s not even the cheapest place either).

A spacious dining area. Morimoto is a big place for a New York restaurant. It helps that it’s located inside Chelsea market. They’ll even offer to take your heavy winter jacket as a complimentary service. So $24.07 will go a long way to pay for that massive rent. Noodle Village is not a big place. Thankfully, it wasn’t packed when I went there. But on a typical day I expected to be packed in there like sardines and making new friends at my shared table. But I’m okay with that.

Exceptional Service. You know you’ve made it an Asian restaurant when white people are working for you instead of the other way around. We made it before the lunch rush so our waiter was shadowing us the entire time, so that was good. Noodle Village isn’t bad either. The young people at Chinese places are as courteous as their white counterparts. It’s just that Chinese people getting straight to the point and expect their waiters to hurry them along. For some reason, they don’t put up with that if they’re at a non-Chinese joint. Because white people work in Morimoto, we expected great service and we got it.

The greatest restroom ever. I lucked out this time. Since it was a high-scale Japanese restaurant, they have the latest thrones from Toto. There is no question Japan is the #1 innovator in toilet technologies. The one at Morimoto had a seat that automatically opens, a heated seat, and a washer AND dryer. There’s a separate console on the side which controls these features. Let’s just say for a moment I thought it was worth $24.07. These toilets should be a required in restaurants and porn sets everywhere. On the other hand, let’s not talk about the toilets in Chinatown.

I get to say I went to Morimoto. Honestly, $12 of the $24.07 is just all about status. That should impress some people from outside the area. If I say I’ve been to Noodle Village, other than Chinese people, no one really cares.

Then there is what I didn’t get at Morimoto.

A decently priced beverage. To my horror, I ended up paying $24 for three green teas. So for $8, I got a teacup, a teapot, and some loose leaf green tea. For less money, I could have went upstairs to the tea shop in Chelsea Market (no bargain basement), and get something for $3-$4.50. Sure, I don’t get to refill my cup, but at least I can choose which tea to drink. In Noodle Village, I get their colored water for free.

Full. Two things go against them. It’s a Japanese place. It’s an upscale Japanese place. Apparently, eating to satiate hunger is for the fatties like me with “only” five figure incomes. Our family almost had to finish our lunch in Chinatown. Just like American agricultural policy, the higher the total calories, the cheaper it becomes. In Chinatown, I just keep ordering rice until I am stuffed.

So is it worth $24.07. Actually yes, once. Remember to only take one friend and just get a tap water.

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