It’s a surprise to hear of a new restaurant opening in the middle of the worldwide pandemic, but when you are an international celebrity and Iron Chef, who has been working on opening your newest space for over three years, it makes perfect sense. Chef Morimoto has seen a rapid expansion of his empire and he knew that his ramen and izakaya conception would be a good fit in the Wynwood district of Miami. He said it was a natural fit, with its casual and energetic atmosphere.
Prior to the restaurant opening in mid-December 2020, the location, at 415 NW 26th Street, was an art gallery, and before that, it was a factory warehouse. The area’s previously vacant industrial properties have been slowly undergoing redevelopment and play a part in Miami becoming an exciting and diverse dining destination (something not lost on Chef Morimoto).
Morimoto was very involved in the design, art selection, and construction of the Wynwood Momosan Ramen and Sake Izakaya location. The interior features polished concrete floors, large garage doors that give you an indoor-outdoor feel, and an open kitchen in the back, adorned with Peking ducks hanging on hooks and abuzz with staff. He also incorporated crystal chandeliers and blond colour wooden tables and chairs throughout the industrial-chic space. There’s also a mural, designed by the chef, comprised of photos of him printed on vinyl. I actually didn’t recognize the chef at first as he has been health-focused and lost weight. With seating up to 150 guests, there is a mix of standard, high tops, and communal tables. The week we visited he had just set up a nice outdoor tented seating area for 32 more guests and the plan is to expand adding two more tents, which are open on the sides.
There is a nice size bar with seats around it, and it features many of Morimoto’s own sake and wines. There is also a nice selection of cocktails, Japanese whiskies, and both draft and bottle Japanese style lagers and local brews, as well as his own brand, with labels designed by the chef.
I even learned something new about Saké! When our server Davis poured it, he purposely let it overflow into a boxed coaster. He told us it is a good omen for prosperity and happiness.
The large menu has many offerings like yakitori, rolls, bao buns, Peking duck, poke bowls, dumplings, salads, and hot and cold appetizers. But, ramen is the star of the show here. There are many options to choose from. We went with a special bowl that cooks for 7 hours and the meat falls off the bone. It was $10 more than all the other choices and they only make 25 bowls of it a night. Although it cost $26, it was perhaps the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever had. It was also large enough to share for two. There were only two desserts on offer for now. We tried the cheesecake in a strawberry sauce that had a brûlée finish and it was very good.
He brought staff in from California to secure a smooth opening (as they are temporarily shut down there). The logo on all the staff’s T-shirts was a squiggly line, representing the ramen noodles they serve there. BTW, if you were wondering how they got the name, “Momosan”, it was because many people had trouble saying the name, “Morimoto San”. They would mumble something like momosan, and this became the chef’s nickname. Thus the name of his restaurant.
Chef Morimoto was onsite when we dined there and kept checking on us to make sure we were satisfied with how both the food and evening were progressing. Morimoto’s first ramen place opened in New York in 2016, followed by Waikiki Beach and Seattle. More locations are coming soon.
I think he has a winning formula, and a crowd-pleaser, with inspiring dishes, attentive service, a cool atmosphere, and a cut above your average ramen and izakaya experience.