Tribeca Canvas

Iron Chef Morimoto used to be my favorite chef. He was the consummate chef and team player.  He didn’t steal ingredients (unlike Batali), was humble (unlike Flay), and not a sellout (Wolfgang Puck).

I used to love his namesake restaurant, Morimoto, but it’s gone down hill over the years. The menu has become outdated, the drinks unoriginal, and the customers scarce. So when I heard that he was opening Tribeca Canvas, I was super excited and eagerly awaited its opening for a year.

It sucks.

I am officially crossing off cooking lessons with Morimoto from my wish list.

First of all, it was dark as night. Even coming in from the gloomy winter exterior, my eyes simply could not adjust. I get it when you go to Macao Trading company next door and you want to drink to your heart’s content and avoid looking at the price of their vermicelli noodles that even a child can make… but this is supposed to be a proper restaurant.

Lotus root chips and guacamole: 6/10 – the fusion here doesn’t really work. Maybe it’s because the guacamole is under seasoned, and its under-seasoning is only highlighted by the mild taste of the lotus… which I could barely taste. The frying oil tasted stronger. I’m impressed by how thinly the lotus root was cut; they probably had to soak it for a while first; but this completely destroys the unique texture and flavor of lotus root.

Shrimp nachos: 6.5/10: If I got this dish out in the middle of nowhere, I’d give it a 7/10. But from Morimoto, I should probably give it a 5. The rock shrimp are very average… they were tempura-ed but the chef neglected to get a thin layer of the mayo sauce onto the shrimp, which I thought would have been an excellent touch. It was difficult to eat, and the shrimp pieces were hard to find in the darkness. Since they can make slices of lotus that are flat, maybe they can use the same technique to make pieces of nachos that lay flat?

Duck duck cous: 6.5/10 – the dumplings were disgusting. The skin was good, but the confit inside tasted like leftovers. I love using leftovers… but it’s never supposed to *taste* like leftovers. There were also 4 tiny pieces of duck breast, each about 2 inches long. Half of my duck must have run away while my eyes were adjusting to the black plate.

Braised pork ribs with rice risotto: 6.5/10 – The risotto was good. There was a little bit of crust on the bottom, and it was absolutely delicious. If it were at another restaurant with other foods with merit, I would order it again. The pork ribs were too salty and possibly cooked in eel sauce.

If this place were reasonably priced, lit, and from an unknown chef, I might find it marginally interesting and a good place to eat if I am right by Chinatown but not in the mood for Chinese food. But it’s not any of those things, so unless something changes, I’m not going back! I’d rather eat food from a corpulent loud mouth who bites the hand that feeds him (not so ironic?!).

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