There are very few restaurants that can create an experience that can transform an ordinary meal into an exotic escape into a foreign culture. Tokyo Dining at Walt Disney World’s Epcot park is a perfect example of this rare, but immersive experience.
Located in the Japan pavilion in the World Showcase, Tokyo dining is a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the park. To enter the restaurant, one checks in to a kiosk outside the Mitsukoshi department store. From there, a short elevator ride whisks diners to the dining room, which opens into a contemporary-styled room with traditional Japanese design elements. The vibe is very calming and serene, which perfectly compliments the panoramic view of the World Showcase lagoon that is supplied by the floor to ceiling windows on one wall of the restaurant. Coming in for an early lunch, I was one of the first guests for the day, and was seated along the panoramic window.
|The miso soup|
The menu features an array of fishes, chicken, and steaks prepared in a variety of traditional and contemporary styles including sushi, tempura, and traditional-style grilling. After informing my server of my dietary restrictions, the house manager came over to my table to discus my options. I was assured that my intolerances could be readily accommodated and was impressed by the number of options still available to me. I opted to go for the miso soup for a starter with the main dish of chicken breast and vegetables in the traditional style of grilling. The two accommodations that had to be made for that particular dish were that the “normal” soy sauce could not be used and I had to substitute white rice for fried rice. However, I was provided a side dish with gluten-free soy sauce that really was a nice touch.
The miso soup came out first, and was a fun start to the meal. The soup was served in a small, black bowl and in the traditional style, the soup is eaten sans silverware. Taking small sips of the flavorful broth which was accented by green onions, the soup was warming and delicious and was the perfect opening course to the meal. I loved the new experience of “drinking” soup.
|Grilled chicken breast with mixed vegetables.|
Closely following the soup came the main course. The chicken was flavorful and juicy, and stood on its own without needing the gluten-free soy sauce. Cooked in a similar style, the mixed vegetables were also well seasoned and perfectly complemented the main dish. The rice portion was small, but this didn’t adversely affect the meal thanks to the generous helping of the chicken and vegetables. The entire meal was generous and filling without being heavy or bloating, which can easily occur with traditional “theme park” foods.
The hospitality of the wait staff really shone through as they were attentive and welcoming, but also allowed for uninterrupted time to enjoy the meal. The staff followed traditional Japanese etiquette while serving, which made the meal all the more authentic and added to the restaurant’s atmosphere.
For a table service restaurant at a theme park, the complete package of cultural immersion, cuisine, and atmosphere of Tokyo Dining is hard to beat. It’s ideal for escaping the crowds or heat of the day and definitely allows for relaxing and regrouping before hitting the park again. I would definitely go back again.