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Sora Sushi Bar and Lounge Review

Sora

On my recent trip to Disney World I was invited for a complimentary dine-around at Gaylord Palms Resort, which is a massive complex just outside of the “gates to the World.”

I’ll say in advance that I’m not usually one to leave Disney property all that much when I’m on a Disney trip. There are just too many things (including restaurants!) that keep my attention Disney-focused to spend precious vacation time elsewhere in Orlando. But visiting the Gaylord Palms was pretty eye-opening regarding what else is out there! Clearly, the chefs at Gaylord have been able to carve out a distinctive dining niche for the resort that includes interesting themed surroundings coupled with Really. Good. Food. While there, I visited four different restaurants; today’s review is of Sora, Gaylord Palms’ sushi bar and lounge. I hope you enjoy this first trip outside the gates!

Sora Entrance at Gaylord Palms Resort

Sora Entrance at Gaylord Palms Resort

The Atmosphere
Now, when I heard Sushi Bar and Lounge, I immediately thought, “Hmm…not really my speed;” even when I lived in New York City I wasn’t a “Bar and Lounge” person. But I can honestly say that this place is not at all intimidating. The restaurant has a relatively open floor plan, lined with comfy booths and offering views into the resort’s atrium and lobby (appropriate, as “Sora” means “blue sky” in Japanese). Walking into Sora doesn’t give the feel of a big city nightspot with blaring music and lights so dim you can’t see where you’re walking — it feels like a hip, but accessible place to pick up some appetizers, light dinner, and cocktails.

Sora Seating Areas

Sora Seating Areas

Sora Inside

Sora Inside

The Eats
While Sora is known for its innovative sushi menu, I was glad to discover that both the adventurous and the picky will find things to try here. And it’s a fun selection. If you take a look at the menu, you’ll see what I mean. You can even order a drink based on how you want to feel — Balance, Nirvana, Opulent, Divine, Distinct… .

Sora Menu

Sora Menu

We started with “Zen,” a delicious drink made with Zen green tea liqueur, Peach Schnapps, and Sauvignon Blanc. The presentation was stunning and the flavor was like nothing I’d ever tasted. I really enjoyed it and wished I could see how all of the drinks looked and tasted (maybe next time!).

Sora's Zen Cocktail

Sora's Zen Cocktail

If you move on in the menu, you’ll see a thorough sushi and sashimi menu that includes BBQ eel and octopus along with standards like tuna and salmon. You can also choose from soups, salads, starters, or dinners, such as sea bass and duck. Try the “omakase” — the chefs will prepare something just for you based on the catches of the day and what’s fresh from the farmer’s market!

BBQ Pork Bao Bun Sandwiches

BBQ Pork Bao Bun Sandwiches

We sampled the Bao Bun Sandwiches, which offered a choice of barbeque pulled pork, vegetable and tofu stir fry, or miso glazed fresh fish of the day, served with Asian slaw, sriracha mayonnaise, and lemon chili sauce. We were served the pork sandwiches, which were “Do-It-Yourself” — fun to put together and sample with the different sauces.

Sora's Bao Bun Sandwiches

Sora's Bao Bun Sandwiches

Another interesting twist Sora has introduced is offering “tapas”-style dishes like Lobster Fritters or Spicy Tuna Nachos in two sizes — “nosh” and “share.”

Overall
We were impressed with Sora. It’s difficult to make the “bar in a resort” into a destination, but the interesting drink menu and fun-to-eat dishes — along with the easygoing atmosphere — make it a great place to stop for pre-dinner cocktails or even a light dinner. If you’re a sushi-lover or a cocktail connoisseur, definitely give it a go.

Sora is open daily, serving food from 5:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. The bar is open daily from 4:00 p.m. until midnight.

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5 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    I’m not a sushi fan but those pork buns look really good.

    What did you think of the resort itself? It’s so huge and intimadating from the street, but I’ve heard the rooms are nice.

  2. AJ says:

    Chris: I always found it to be huge and intimidating from the highway as well, but inside it’s beautiful. It’s really a self-contained resort with three differently themed areas (with the rooms in those sections themed accordingly). The restaurants are fantastic — great food and very interesting conceptually — so I’d recommend going off property for an eventing to explore and eat over there.

  3. Chris says:

    Good to know. I’ll check it out on my next trip. I’m pretty partial to staying on property, though . . . .

  4. Scobie says:

    Evidently the sushi bar you dined at must have been kidnapped and replaced with a third rate tourist trap. We just ate there last night and was told it would be a 20 min wait. In reality it was at least 90 min. When we were finally seated it took another hour to an hour and a half to get our drinks and meals. The sushi was unimpressive in every facet. There was nothing innovative about the sushi, just another sushi bar. For the price of the rolls (14.00 for a spicy tuna roll), I expected a larger roll and a better presentation. The people we were dining with were also underwhelmed with their selections. Cannot honestly advise anybody to dine at Sora, take some time and go to one of the many small sushi places in Orlando, or even stop by a local Whole Foods, you will get a much better deal.

  5. AJ says:

    Scobie — Thanks for the updated review and suggestions! :-)

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