*This dining experience took place in November 2016.
Morimoto Asia, a table service restaurant at Disney Springs, offers Asian food inspired by Iron Chef Morimo. I’ve been here on several occasions — all of which have resulted in progressively worse experiences.
On this particular occasion, I joined my family for a last minute lunch at Morimoto Asia (they really enjoy it). Initially, I was going to grab lunch at Cooke’s of Dublin or Blaze Pizza while my family dined at Morimoto Asia, but at their insistence I ended up going there for lunch with them.
I enjoyed seeing the holiday decorations here, which were really lovely, but that was basically the best of my experience.
In previous visits, Morimoto Asia has had a gluten free menu. On this visit, I learned that they recently removed the menu and now only have limited gluten free offerings. The hostess said that she thought some of the rice dishes were now gluten free, but then came back to our table after a few minutes (and before our server came to the table) and said she was mistaken.
Sadly, our server did not give me any more good news. I was told my only gluten free option was the pad thai. I asked about speaking to a manager, but the server indicated that they would tell me the same thing — that the only gluten free option was pad thai.
What a huge bummer and such a sad situation that I couldn’t get a manager or that there were any other options beyond pad thai. I told my family that I was going to leave and get food elsewhere, as I both felt unwelcome and frustrated by the experience, but they really wanted me to stay. I’m not a big fan of their pad thai, but ended up ordering it.
On a previous visit, I found the pad thai woefully oversauced and very sweet. This time, there was barely any sauce. I found the noodles and even the chicken to be super bland and tasteless. I can get much better versions of pad thai in Orlando, so it was nothing special for me.
While the dish itself was perfectly passable, I can’t in good conscious either recommend or support Morimoto Asia. I’m fine with a restaurant not offering gluten free options; it’s their choice. What I can’t get behind is a restaurant at Disney, where the special dietary accommodations are second to none, not even making an effort. Of course, Morimoto Asia is non-Disney owned, so it’s certainly their prerogative to remove menus and/or options and restaurants at Disney not owned or operated by Disney are not required to follow Disney’s accommodations for special dietary needs…but most do.
Look at Raglan Road. Chef Kevin Dundon has done an incredible job at not only making amazing and delicious food but also creating outstanding and safe gluten free and special dietary needs counterparts so that everyone can enjoy. In fact, he talked about this recently at a culinary demo I went to at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival and he took the extra effort and time to make me a gluten free version of the lamb pie he made for the demo. That, to me, is true commitment and compassion for guests with special dietary needs. There’s a reason Chef Kevin Dundon’s restaurant Raglan Road has won “best gluten free restaurant” in Orlando.
I can only assume that Chef Morimoto and the Pantina Group, which owns Morimoto Asia, find that accommodating special dietary needs is too time-consuming and/or difficult. And that’s fine. That is their choice. But, it’s disheartening to see a restaurant like this at Disney, where many guests might not know that there’s a difference between Disney owned and non-Disney owned restaurants and might expect that they can be accommodated for at Morimoto Asia.
Thankfully, there are so many Disney owned and non-Disney owned restaurants that can accommodate. And, if I’m craving Asian food, I will just head to Skipper Canteen and other Disney locations. Sadly, this was one of the most disappointing meal experiences I’ve ever had at Disney, and I will not be going back to Morimoto Asia.
I truly hope that they will take feedback from the special diets community to heart and work to provide safe and delicious options for guests and not just make them feel like a burden or give them “a” single choice (because that’s not really a choice or option. It’s just what you have to order). Until then, you’ll find me at Raglan Road next door with a platter of gluten free and dairy free fried fish and chips and a pint of Magners Pear Cider.
Have you been to Morimoto Asia? What has your experience been?