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Review: Katsura Grill

Review: Katsura Grill

The Epcot World Showcase is famous for its pavilion-style exhibitions portraying snippets of the world’s greatest nations. Among these, you’ll find the small, yet resounding little islands of Japan, complete with a hidden gem called Katsura Grill.

If you’ve ever been to the Japan Pavilion before, you have surely noticed the tall tower, where drummers sometimes perform, or the Mitsukoshi mock department store, complete with a pick-a-pearl station and the merchandise of Hayao Miyazaki’s acclaimed animated features. You may have even noticed the steps leading up to the hibachi-style restaurant or the gardens on the terrace. But something you might have overlooked, and this well-traveled Disney-goer had certainly overlooked it, is the little garden café tucked away in the corner of the gardens, just near the koi ponds. This is Katsura Grill.

Taking a stroll through the terrace and over the step bridges, we found ourselves feeling more and more like we were in the Land of the Rising Sun. With paper lanterns and traditional Japanese architecture, the layout of Katsura’s back patio allows guests to enjoy a seemingly authentic rural atmosphere, while the inside offers the more urban stylings and hospitality you might find at a Tokyo fast food joint. We quickly grabbed a spot on the patio and went in to check out the menu.

As far as Disney quick service restaurants go, this one had a menu twice the size of the usual, providing exquisite tastes of everything from Chicken Cutlet Curry to Tsukemen Salad. Whether you are looking for something traditional like one of the many udon dishes, itching for the healthy angle with some sushi, or simply want to keep it carnivore with an authentic bowl of Teriyaki Chicken, there is plenty to go around.

With the insistence of the impressively agreeable Japanese woman at the counter, we started our feast with the Shogun Combo, a pleasantly large platter of teriyaki chicken, beef, rice, and an array of steamed vegetables. With big, fresh-cut pieces of chicken and succulent beef shredded in the customary fashion, it seemed this dish was even more flavorful and almost healthier than any teriyaki dish you’d find at a take away shop or Mall cafeteria. It was gone immediately, and then, it was time for udon and tea!

Topped with 2 thick pieces of crispy tempura shrimp, the udon was something to behold, with thick, round noodles that would have taken some work to twirl if we weren’t using chopsticks. Even the green tea, which must be made in bulk to satisfy the masses, brought our taste buds to the top of Mount Fuji. But be sure to sweeten it, if you don’t like your tea too bitter. This green was made the right way.

Although dessert would have been an experience, with green tea ice cream and Matcha Roll Cakes, we simply couldn’t eat another bite, and instead, we had to roll ourselves down the foot path like sleepy sumo wrestlers. But we were more than pleased with our trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, despite the prices being slightly higher than some other quick services restaurants throughout the park. Remember, you get what you pay for, and Katsura Grill is the best in the west.

Food: With such a wide array of foods, it’s hard to pick just one item on the menu. But whether you try the sushi, the udon, or the teriyaki platter, you really can’t go wrong. A good rule of thumb is for everyone in your party to try something different, and then share!

Atmosphere: From the outside, Katsura Grill gives the illusion that you are sitting in a Japanese garden with koi ponds and traditional décor all around, but the inside seating and ordering counter more closely resemble a Burger King. However, in some ways, this illustrates the urban aspects of Japan.

Service: Very generous and hospitable. From the bussers cleaning tables to the Japanese women behind the counter, everyone had smiles on their faces and kind, helpful words for guests. Japan has a strong reputation for hospitality and it’s reflected in the service at Katsura Grill.

Tips: Sit outside in the garden area! When you’re done eating, check out the rice candy demonstration or traditional drumming that tends to be going on nearby in other areas of the Japan Pavilion.

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About Ryan

Ryan Negrini has worked tirelessly to write stories worth sharing. Apart from his writing exploits, he is a creative writing consultant at Valencia College in Orlando, Fl. His inspiration often comes from the earth and its quirky nature, but sometimes shifts to current events.