The day is finally here! I get to review the new Katsura Grill at Epcot’s Japan pavilion!
This spot opened last week in the former location of the Yakitori House in Epcot’s Japan pavilion. Yakitori was not necessarily a fan favorite, but I always found it to be a nice, out-of-the-way place to dine on passable Asian food while taking a bit of a break from the crowds of the World Showcase.
At Katsura, the location and look of the restaurant is still largely the same, so you get to take advantage of that relaxing, “away from the main drag” feeling while dining on a relatively new menu.
Katsura Grill is pretty much Yakitori House with a new, sleek, modern look when it comes to atmosphere. There are digital menu boards, a “Wendy’s-esque” counter ordering set-up, and a “clean lines” feel to the place now, but the general vibe really hasn’t changed all that much.
You still have the option of sitting indoors, or sitting outdoors in the gorgeous Japanese garden (so glad about this, as I think that’s one of the most relaxing places in Walt Disney World to dine).
I would say that the menu has basically been “expanded” from what you could get at the former Yakitori House. Many of the same dishes are still available — tempura shrimp udon, Japanese curry rice, the Shogun and Tonosama Combos, several sushi options, etc.
The new Katsura menu introduces things like the Curry Chicken Cutlet and Chicken Cutlet Sandwich to the menu as well as the okonomi yaki, a type Japanese “pancake” made with veggies and topped with a creamy, tangy sauce.
Here’s the OLD YAKITORI MENU:
Here’s the NEW KATSURA MENU:
Disney Food Blog columnist Erin Foster and I dined at Katsura Grill together last week, and Erin sampled the California Roll and Tempura Shrimp Udon.
That Udon looked great, and Erin enjoyed it. (I plan on going back over in the next couple of days to try it!) It’s pretty much what was on the menu previously, so if you liked it then, you’ll probably like it now.
The California Roll was given a thumbs up, and Erin mentioned that it was surprisingly good for pre-packaged sushi. She was a bit concerned, however, about the shrimp on the platter, so be aware.
I sampled the Shogun Combo, which features Teriyaki chicken and beef with sticky rice and veggies. I loved this platter, and although it’s very similar to what was on the menu previously, I’m pretty glad it didn’t change!
Erin and I both sampled the okonomi yaki, which we weren’t sure what to do with at first! We couldn’t tell what it was made of (the Wikipedia article about it helps a lot!), but figured it was primarily cabbage and other vegetables.
It had the texture of a hash brown, and was savory. To me it tasted kind of like a big, flat egg roll, minus the roll! The sauce on top had a mayonnaise-like texture and was quite tangy.
We didn’t make too much of a dent in this, but I think it’s one of those things that I’ll like more and more as I continue to try it and “get to know” the dish.
For dessert, I tried the Matcha Roll Cake. Apparently it’s becoming common in Japan to use Matcha — a green tea — in sweets like Swiss Rolls, which is pretty much what this is!
It’s not overly-sweet, but has a fresh, interesting flavor that does end a meal nicely. The cake itself was very moist and had a great texture. That said, I think I’d probably prefer the green tea ice cream. This dessert wasn’t really worth $4.25 in my opinion.
Outdoor Sake Bar
They’ve also added, during the renovation here, an outdoor Sake bar! This spot takes the place of the old sweets and drinks shop in the middle of the Japan pavilion and offers a yummy assortment of sake and sake drinks. There’s even hot sake available.
Stay tuned for a full review of this spot! (Can’t wait!!)
You know, I didn’t sense TOO much of a change here from when it was the Yakitori House. I look forward to hearing what you guys think — as I’m certainly not an expert in Japanese food!! — but I felt like the place had the same vibe as before (a little sleeker and more modern, but basically the same vibe), and the food was of the same quality (which is good, but not anything to write home about).
The menu changes weren’t massive, so if you liked Yakitori House before, you’ll still like Katsura Grill; and I think there’s plenty here to please picky eaters (after all, there’s basically a fried chicken sandwich on the menu now).
My take? I enjoyed my meal and I enjoyed the setting, as always. But, like I said, I was a Yakitori House fan, so there ya go!
What are your thoughts on the new Katsura Grill? Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried it, or if you plan on trying it.