Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are reviewing the quick service restaurants in Epcot’s World Showcase.
So it’s no big secret… I love the Japan Pavilion. In fact, I’ve gone on record as saying it’s my favorite place in not just Epcot, but Walt Disney World. Sure, the store is incredible and the view is unbeatable, but the Japan Pavilion truly worked its way into my heart through my stomach. It was the food that first helped me discover all that makes the Japan Pavilion truly special.
The Japan Pavilion is truly unique in its dining offerings, offering more selections than most other countries around the World Showcase. With two sit-down restaurants (Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining), 1-2 snack options (depending on the season you visit), 1-2 saki stands (depending on when you visit), and a quick service, there are numerous options that are sure to please everybody, from the adventurous diner to the more conventional eater.
While most tend to be lured into the Japan Pavilion’s yummy sit down options, which are admittedly pretty incredible, I actually was introduced to the culinary delights the Japan Pavilion had to offer via its quick service restaurant, Katsura Grill. Having decided practically last-minute to head to Walt Disney World for the International Flower and Garden Festival, I opted to get the quick service dining plan instead of my usual regular plan, thinking I wouldn’t be able to get reservations on short notice. As a result, I did a lot of exploring of counter service restaurants around the World Showcase. I ended up loving Katsura Grill so much I ate there twice on one trip… Pretty much unheard of for me.
The immediate draw to Katsura Grill for me was the location. Tucked in a quiet corner of the Japan Pavilion, away from the main World Showcase walkway, I was able to step up and away from the heavy crowds that were in Epcot for the festival. With trees, shrubs, and a wonderful pond nearby, it didn’t even really feel like I was in Epcot anymore. Dining at night was incredible as sitting out on the patio meant being bathed in the light of the lanterns overhead. Very soft and very romantic. How often can you say that about a counter service meal?
This is a conventional counter service, with an indoor seating area and menus posted over a large ordering area. You order your food, carry it to your seat, and bus your own trash (or at least, you should… Naughty, naughty to those that don’t!). However, even though your interactions with the cast is relatively brief, it is always wonderful. It’s nice to not feel like you’re being funneled through in order to move the line and get food out. Even places I love, like Earl of Sandwich, tend to focus on efficiency at the expense of fun, genuine interactions with staff. But the Japan Pavilion has always been one of the best, if not the absolute best, in customer service. And the food comes out at just the right pace… Not so slow that it’s irritating, but not so fast that you worry it has spent most of it’s life under a heat lamp.
It’s not the biggest menu on property, but it is certainly one of the best, and it certainly delivers all the flavor one would hope for in Japanese-style food. I’m obsessed with their udon menu… And with good reason as it has certainly become their signature meal. I mean, huge, fresh noodles in a salty, hearty broth, topped with shaved meat that almost melts like butter in your mouth… It’s instantly craveable.
That said, their teriyaki dishes are just as scrumptious. My husband, who was unsure about the whole “udon” thing (I love him to bits, but he’s a picky eater… Shhhh… Don’t tell him I said that…), ordered the chicken and beef teriyaki. He was impressed with the generous portion, the fork-tender meat, and the total saturation of teriyaki flavor without that icky burned flavor that it sometimes takes on.
And yes, there is sushi here. While I haven’t tried it, I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things.
The only place that I feel Katsura Grill tends to fall down is the desserts. With only two options, ice cream and cheesecake, there’s not a lot to get tempted by. The green tea cheesecake is good, though not mind blowing, and you can really tell it’s made ahead of time. The ice cream,while supposedly flavored with traditional sweet Japanese flavors (green tea and Azuki strawberries) really resembles generic soft serve to me.
Want the flavors of Japan at home? Try these recipes:
If you want a lot of food without breaking the bank, Katsura Grill is a must-try. Every entree is under $15 and the udon is less than $12. Portions are huge and they don’t skimp on meats or veg, so you do quite a bang for your buck. The kids menu prices are maybe slightly more expensive than most restaurants, however the portions are generous enough that you can most likely get away with sharing one portion between two children. If you’re on the dining plan, Katsura Grill offers generally good value for your points if you’re eating the teriyaki or curry meals, though if you have to pay out-of-pocket for a meal and plan on getting the udon, this is a great place eat while saving points for something else.
The Final Verdict
This was a fabulous way to get-to-know the food of the Japan Pavilion before committing to the more expensive sit-down dining experiences that Japan has to offer. With a prime location, secluded dining area, and wonderful ambiance, it’s a fabulous way to get away from the crowds and heat without having to leave Disney property. The udon is incredible (and very well priced), though the rest of the food is just as wonderful.
In short, if you want a place to kick up your heels and enjoy something besides burgers and fries, Katsura Grill is a must-try on any Walt Disney World vacation.
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | World Showcase Quick Service Reviews Loop:
- 1st Stop – The Disney Chef | Japan
- 2nd Stop – Dad for Disney | France
- 3rd Stop – Superheroes and Teacups | American Adventure
- 4th Stop – Home is Where the Mouse Is | Mexico
- 5th Stop – Running on Disney | United Kingdom
- 6th Stop – Capturing Magical Memories | Canada
- 7th Stop – What’s the Point? | Germany
- 8th Stop – Magical Mickey Tips | Morocco
- 9th Stop – Rolling with the Magic | Norway