Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Lunch @ Morita

The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?
                            -- Douglas Adams, Chapter 35, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I can tell you about a sophisticated place you could go for lunch.  You've probably even heard of it already, if you follow the Metro Restaurant of the Year awards, since the French-Japanese fusion restaurant Morita made it into the Top 50 shortly after opening in 2011 (and again this year).

Tucked away in a corner of a dead end street, I would never have stumbled across this hidden gem by myself.  Now, I don't make a habit of visiting award-winning restaurants for lunch, but a curiosity as to what French-Japanese food might taste like, coupled with the persuasion of a very reasonably priced lunch menu (complete with photos on the restaurant website), made me go out of my way to find this basement venue.

Dark yet elegant interior.
For food court prices, you can have lunch in one of the city's best restaurants, where even tap water is served in a wine glass from a classy bottle.  I also love it that the mains always come with a salad, so you feel that you are getting a balanced meal.

I generally order the less Western sounding options, which are definitely not pure Japanese.  The omurice pots, for instance, are basically tomato risotto with an omelette on top.

Tomato and egg omurice pot, served with a side of salad.
The donburi sets, which are extremely good value and not featured on their website, are just a little different from what you might expect, though it's hard to put a finger on why that is.

Teriyaki chicken donburi set, served with (clockwise from top right) fish nanban, salad, pickles and miso soup.
I should probably give their less interesting sounding items (like pasta) a go as well, but I struggle to forego the tried and true in this case.  Whatever you order though, I am sure you will enjoy it.

Panda Recommends

You can spend up to $70 on a lunch at Morita (four course business lunch with wagyu steak), but I stick to the more affordable items.  The hayashi rice ($11.00) is fantastic, and the donburi sets ($9.90) and omurice pots ($10.00 - $16.00) are all delightful and great value for money.

Vegie Pandas
I thought the Vegetable Kakiage Don ($9.90) would involve a mix of tempura vegetables, but it was all onion, which I guess fits in with the French theme.  The tomato and cheese omurice pot ($10.00) is a good choice.

Lunch menu outside the restaurant.

Special lunch menu (not on the restaurant website).

Normal lunch menu

Restaurant Details

12 Swanson Street, Auckland Central
(09) 337 0506

Opening hours:
Mondays to Fridays, 12 - 2pm, 6 - 9pm
Saturdays 6 - 9pm

Morita has a corner basement location.

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  1. Wow. That is incredible value for Morita. Are these lunch specials only available on week days?

  2. They only open for lunch on week days, so yes. Word is getting out though... When I first went, there were only a couple of tables with customers and last time the place was practically full.


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