Located in the Universal Orlando’s Royal Pacific Resort, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop is a perfect restaurant to explore a varied menu of Polynesian-style food and escape from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. I have been looking forward to trying the restaurant for a while and could not wait when my mom selected it for Mother’s Day lunch. Having never before eaten at one of Universal’s resorts, I must admit that I had high expectations considering the top quality experiences I have had on property at Disney World. However, as my experience went, Tchoup Chop holds its own and offers up a welcome mix of food allergen awareness and flavorful, fresh food.
The “Tchoup” in Tchoup Chop comes from Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, LA which is home to Emeril’s first restaurant. While the fare was different from his original concept, Tchoup Chop’s menu has the “BAM” factor that characterized his cooking style. This restaurant is the newest of his two at Universal Orlando Resort and the other one is located at CityWalk.
The restaurants decor is striking upon first glance. Beautiful stained glass windows and chandeliers provide a wonderful kaleidoscope of color and intricate mosaics on the walls only add to the effect. A serine reflection pool runs down the center of the restaurant and is dotted by perfect ceramic lilly pads. I felt like I had been whisked away to an exotic far-off land, which made the lunch all the more special.
Because it was a special day, the restaurant was serving its dinner menu all day. I was thrown off after looking at the lunch menu online, which featured rice and noodle bowls that looked good to me. Admittedly, the dinner menu is a little limited for gluten and dairy free diners, but they are able to prepare items like noodle or rice bowls on request off-menu. I decided to go for the Sichimi Spice Mahi which was naturally gluten and dairy free as long as I took off the fried calimari on top. This dish was recommended by Kevin, our server, who was very knowledgeable about each of the dishes on the menu and highlighted the flavor profile of the dish and assured me he would take my order directly to the chef to ensure proper allergen protocols were in place. I really respect Tchoup Chop’s commitment to safe dining for special diets.
Before the main course, complimentary shrimp chips were brought out. These puffed, airy snacks are made with potato and rice flour and fried up in shrimp stock. They most definitely did not taste like shrimp, but were a fun appetizer. They provided a peanut sauce for a dip which I could not eat and after realizing I could not eat it, I was provided a sweet chili sauce as well. The runner who brought it out made a point of clarifying that the chips were both gluten and dairy free, which gave me piece of mind. It’s small details like this that make going out to eat a real pleasure when they could quite easily be a dangerous minefield.
When the main dishes came out, I was impressed with intricacy of each one’s presentation. The food was a true work of art. My mahi was accented with edible flowers, which was a nice touch that brought Polynesian flair. The fish itself was spicy and cooked perfectly so that I could cut right through it with a fork. As someone who is not a hard-core seafood eater, I really enjoyed the fish for its flavor and the fact that it did not feel heavy on my stomach. I also loved the Lomi tomatoes on top which provided fresh flavor to complement the spice of the fish. Beneath it was a bed of coconut spinach “Luau” risotto. The creamy rice risotto was heavenly. I loved the smooth texture of the dish and how comforting it was. Though I could not really distinguish the spinach side of the dish, the coconut milk definitely helped to create the cream-like texture. For dessert, I was offered a variety of sorbets, including a gluten and dairy free chocolate sorbet, but passed them up because I was stuffed. I hope that I can stop back by someday to sample the sorbets!
All in all, I really enjoyed Tchoup Chop for its breathtaking atmosphere and innovative fare. My whole family enjoyed the experience and discovering this awesome restaurant that we have been overlooking for years. It is restaurants like Tchoup Chop that make me love food blogging and this city more than ever before. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting an escape from the ordinary or celebrating a special occasion. Thanks again to the chef, staff, and especially our main server, Kevin, for making Mother’s day memorable and delicious.
Cuisine: Pacific Island and Asian
Price: Less than $50 per person. On the dinner menu, entrees ran about $30. If seeking a more budget friendly meal, make a reservation for lunch.
Accessibility: Tchoup Chop is accessible and most tables are at a standard level.
Special Features: You can book a reservation in advance here through Open Table. In doing so, you can obtain points for dining out which can be exchanged for dining credits.