Masaharu Morimoto, the chef perhaps best known for his grim-faced determination on Food Network's Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, has recently opened up a new restaurant in the Napa Valley.  This latest venture, called Morimoto Napa, is the most recent in a long list of well -respected restaurants in New York, Philadelphia, Florida, Mumbai, and Tokyo.  Morimoto is known worldwide for his innovative style and gorgeous, artistic presentations, and his work has earned him a Michelin star (for his Tokyo restaurant, Morimoto XEX).

Vintage Cellars Max with proud father and owner of Vintage Cellars Gene Walder, enjoying a glass at the 2009 San Diego Wine and Food Festival

Morimoto Napa seems to be delivering.  Napa restaurant-goers rave over unique dishes with playful names, such as "Duck Duck Goose" (a medley of duck preparations and frozen foie gras) and Sea Urchin Carbonara (uni, undon noodles, smoked bacon and crispy shallots).  The sushi menu is, of course, extensive, with fresh ingredients flown in from Japan.  Appropriately, most of the non-sushi ingredients are grown locally.  Many recent visitors have even had the pleasure of glimpsing the Iron Chef as he expedites in the kitchen, poses for photos with fans, or even shows off his impressive knife skills behind the sushi bar.

Of course, as a Napa Valley restaurant, Morimoto Napa's wine list can't disappoint.  And it doesn't--about 200 local wines are featured, with lots of the sauvignon blancs, chardonnays, rosés, rieslings and the like that are needed to pair perfectly with sushi.  It also has a wide variety of deep, rich reds that pair perfectly with the straight-from-Japan Waygu beef that Morimoto serves here.  For non-winos, there is a great sake list, and rumor has it that Morimoto will soon be brewing his own beer on-site.

But in our opinion, the best thing about Morimoto Napa is that it's the new workplace of Max Walder, the son of the owner, Gene, here at Vintage Cellars.  Congratulations, Max!  We wish you the best in your new life of creating fabulous dishes in one of the world's premiere wine regions.