Japanese master chef Masaharu Morimoto counts 18 restaurants in his empire and a slew of products bearing his name, but he shows no signs of slowing down. His latest project is in Boston, where he’ll open another Momosan Ramen (he has outposts in New York City, Waikiki and Seattle) at the city’s hotly anticipated Hub on Causeway’s food hall next to TD Garden in early spring 2020.
Out of the 18 planned vendors for the Hub Hall, his new establishment will be the only full-service, standalone spot. Forbes Travel Guide sat down with the always-busy chef to get a little insight into his Massachusetts move, his favorite U.S. sushi spot and his plans for the future.
What are your reasons for opening a Momosan Ramen in Boston?
Boston is not a huge city like New York. It’s a nice-sized city. Boston has four seasons, like Japan, with a nice spring, summer, fall and winter. And [it has] all the seafood, like lobster, clam, cod and tuna coming in. I was looking for an opening here and, fortunately, an opportunity happened.
I have a good relationship with the Patina Restaurant Group [editor’s note: it runs Morimoto Asia at Orlando’s Disney Springs], and I trust them. They asked me to come open here and I said, “Why not?” I had no reason to say no.
Why Momosan and not Morimoto?
Every city is different. I bring the fourth Momosan in this country here. I decide on yakitori, sushi, grab-and-go and, of course, ramen. It makes sense because the location of the Momosan here is a food court.
What was your most memorable dining experience in 2019?
I am a sushi chef. I am doing a lot of stuff, but I am still keeping an eye on other sushi chefs. I think it depends. You want to spend $1,000? Or $500? Or $20? I think the best sushi chef and sushi restaurant in this county is in Hawaii. A sushi restaurant called Sushi Sho [at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach].
What restaurant trends do you envision for 2020?
I don’t follow trends. In Japan, restaurants don’t have every [type of food] at a restaurant. There’s a ramen shop, a yakitori shop, tempura shop, etcetera. Maybe there will be more small specialty restaurants. Hopefully.
Where in the world would you like to go that you haven’t?
Vietnam. It has a lot of street food and a good mix of Asian culture and Western culture. And, also, the moon [editor’s note: He is not kidding.].
What’s something you won’t travel without?
Depends on where I am going. For luggage, as small as possible. I am a carry-on person. I don’t have to bring a knife anymore, if I am going to my restaurants. They have a knife for me. I do bring 24 colored pencils and a sketchbook. Something happens, I sketch it.
What’s next for you?
I am probably opening five or six more restaurants, including this one, in 2020.
We know you are a big sports fan. Are you excited about the teams here in Boston?
I have done seven first pitches in this country. Hopefully, I am going to ask the Red Sox to do their first pitch.