May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011
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Counter service and ultra luxe retail ingredients at Morimoto’s new Market; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

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Snag a seat among the vines in Morimoto’s front room; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.

Last week ~MORIMOTO NAPA~ opened its long-awaited Market in the restaurant’s front room. In addition to the premium Wagyu beef and pristine sashimi-grade fish we expected to see, the retail case is stocked with duck and quail eggs; premium soy sauces; marinated, ready-to-cook “angry chicken” from the restaurant menu; and a couple of pre-packed entrées ready for the picnic basket.

There’s also a full café menu for daytime dining in the sunny front room. Four salads, three soups, and four original banh mi sandwiches (tuna sashimi, angry chicken, pork belly, or Korean BBQ steak) offer some tasty variety in the $8-$12 range, but you can also get a classic sushi combo plate for $15. Housemade yuzuade, sparking pomegranate juice, ginger apple soda, and Morimoto green tea give designated drivers and working stiffs a good selection of beverages to wash down the lunchtime grub. For dessert check out the buttermilk cupcake filled with yuzu curd and topped with coconut buttercream, or the nutty rice bran shortbread cookies with matcha-white chocolate drizzle.

The Market is now open every day from 10am-6pm. 610 Main St. at 5th St., Napa, 707-252-1600.

Healdsburg’s ~SHIMO MODERN STEAK~ has also devised some budget-friendly changes to its high-end concept. Chefs Doug Keane and Kolin Vazzoler introduced ramen and soba noodle bowls to the bar menu in late April, and the huge public response prompted a permanent shift this month. As of Friday May 13th, Shimo is officially a noodle house.

The $7.95 base model includes ramen or soba noodles in your choice of broth, with nori, scallions, and bean and bamboo shoots. Tack on some extras like pork chashu ($4.50), shrimp ($4.75), kimchee ($1.50), or slow-cooked egg ($3), and you’re really in business. Shimo’s marbled modern steaks will still be available, though in smaller and more attainably priced forms like a six-ounce filet mignon for $25, a 42-hour shortrib for $18, or prime rib tonkatsu for $15.

The restaurant’s exploratory lunch service is also apparently going to stick around for while. Wednesday through Sunday, the noodle bowls and a handful of other small dishes (e.g. chilled soba salad, hamachi sashimi, Japanese yam pancake) are available for dining in or to go from 12pm-2pm.

Kudos to Doug Keane for adapting his original vision to fit the times, and giving H-burg its first modern noodle house. 241 Healdsburg Ave. at W. Matheson, Healdsburg, 707-433-6000.

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