The long overdue Asian flow in Brno continues – and stepping up to the dinner plate this month is Mori, serving Japanese and Korean food in the location previously occupied by burger and steak place Forman, and before that proud dive pub Švejk.
Until recently there were generally only two strata of Asian food in Brno centre. You had your Asian bistros, serving cheap cheerful Czinese, or you had Koishi, several times the Czech Republic “Restaurant of the Year” winner. Needless to say there was something of a gap between the two in terms of quality and price. The last year has seen that gap filled in somewhat but there’s still space, and aiming to fit somewhere into the order at the Koishi end is Mori.
As a Brňák who enjoys Asian cuisine I feel a little defensive for Mori. It’s not Brno’s first stab at at Korean food. There was, briefly, a restaurant in the famous style of the Korean barbecue, replete with grills built into the tables. Unfortunately it proved to be (hopefully for Mori) seven years ahead of its time.
Sadly, my biggest disappointment with Mori has been the Korean dishes. It can be difficult to evaluate food from other cultures. For example it’s more typically authentic for much Asian food to have beef that is tougher but more flavourful, which might come across as chewy to someone used to steak beef. Would it be unfair to criticise that? In the end it has to come down to a matter of personal taste.
To my knowledge the Korean dishes in Mori are faithful reconstructions of Korean specialities, but they haven’t satisfied my (admittedly Western) pallette. Of the three Korean dishes I tried only the beef Bulgogi met my expectations (it was wonderfully tender by the way, no issues there).
I have a nagging feeling that the traditional Korean dishes that use what I assume are local ingredients don’t represent the best value. In fact I feel like the Korean dishes have been priced to avoid outcompeting the sushi menu, which is unfortunate because I want to try the Korean dishes but in terms of cost it doesn’t feel worth it
And it doesn’t feel worth it in terms of opportunity cost either because the sushi is where Mori really shines. By my count there are 66 different sushi rolls on the menu, and besides having the recognisable classics they have a large selection of unconventional fusion recipes. I tried the the Scallop Roll with fried garlic and crab cream, and the Foie Gras Unagi roll with truffle oil. Both were delicious. I don’t want to say I was surprised they were good – but I was surprised by how good they were.
I’d like to say a word about the wait staff – and that word is excellent. You can sense they’re always around with advice but they’re never intrusive about it. It’s a so refreshing when compared with high end restaurants more focused on business dinners, where it sometimes feels like the waiters are hovering at the ready to intrude with high pressure sales tactics to ramp up the bill because hey, what kind of skinflint says no to 40yr old vintage port chasers for a party of 12 when it all goes on the company expense account anyway? Looking at you, Borgo Agnese.
So, in summary; Mori is worth a visit. The interior looks super, the Korean dishes are a bit hit and miss, but the sushi is delicious and different. Even if you’re not into traditional sushi, if you’re the least bit adventurous you’ll find something to interest you here.