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Review: Katsura Grill

The day is finally here! I get to review the new Katsura Grill at Epcot’s Japan pavilion!

Photo Copyright Disney

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.

Atmosphere

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. :-)

Counter

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).

Eats

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:

Menu -- Click for larger view

Here’s the NEW KATSURA MENU:

Katsura Menu - click on image for larger version

Katsura Menu - click on image for larger version

Katsura Menu - click on image for larger version

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.

Tempura Shrimp Udon

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.

California Roll

Questionable Shrimp

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! ;-)

Teriyaki Shogun Combo

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.

okonomi yaki

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.

Okonomi yaki Close-Up

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.

Matcha Roll Cake

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.

Sake Bar

Sake Bar Menu

Stay tuned for a full review of this spot! :-) (Can’t wait!!)

Overall

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.

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24 Comments

  1. Kitak Law says:

    Yes, okonomi yaki is one of those foods that needs some getting used to for a western palate. I’m too far away to have this one, but I could get it in my home city up here in Canada and it really is quite good.

    My word of advice to first-time triers: don’t treat it as a pancake, because it definitely doesn’t taste like one! ;)

    Thanks for posting this Review; I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I heard this restaurant was opening.

  2. The outdoor sake bar sounds like a great addition. The one inside the gift-shop could get pretty crowded!

  3. melissa sue says:

    I have to get back to try the red bean ice cream–there was too much good food this weekend!

  4. marcellina says:

    great review! I’m excited to try this place out in February for the first time ever …. we’re wanting sushi but during a counter service meal and this fits the bill!

    The Okonomiyaki looks interesting, I think I’ve had something similar. My sister-in-law has taken us to a Korean restaurant where we ordered something similar.. she described it as a savory pancake and we all shared it as an appetizer. I’m not really sure what was in it but I’m guessing vegetables and/or fish? And I don’t remember what it was called but I found this on wikipedia that I suppose is what we ate.. lol. It was pretty tasty! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeon_(food)

  5. marcellina says:

    btw, red bean ice cream = yum! It always tastes a bit like strawberry flavor to me for some reason!

  6. The fact that they have Okonomiyaki is impressive.

  7. Carrie says:

    This place seemed much brighter and airier after the renovation to me, but maybe I’d only ever visited on dark days? I guess I shouldn’t have expected the new menu items to be any more authentically Japanese, but I was sort of surprised by how lackluster they were. The okonomi yaki itself was decent, but the teriyaki sauce on it was SUPER salty. The cold noodle salad seemed to be made of regular spaghetti, with just three strands of fake crab. Next time I’d better stick with the combo plate!

  8. Madoka says:

    I am excited for the okonomiyaki and chicken cutlet curry rice (though I wish they had opted for pork katsu (fried cutlet) instead of chicken)! :D

  9. Jeff Williams says:

    Thanks for the review…our favorite counter service just got better. I think they should offer a Matcha ice cream…I make that at home.

  10. Alex says:

    I love okonomiyaki and am glad that they will be selling slightly more common Japanese street food fair in Epcot, though I wish they were also selling takoyaki, as I am sort of addicted to it.

  11. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I’m glad that they took an “if it ain’t broke” approach here. It’s one of the better hidden places in WDW. (Seriously, many people don’t even know it’s there.)

  12. Diana says:

    Great update! Craving Japanese food right now!

  13. Heather says:

    Yum can’t wait to give this a try now that the menu has been updated!

  14. Dale says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the location, but was never a fan of the food. Thought the quality of the chicken used in the teriyaki (fatty, dark meat) was blech . . . it had become a place to get a beer and rest our feet. I’m anxious to try the okonomiyaki during our April trip.

  15. Jayme says:

    Just curious to know if you knew if the okonomiyaki is a vegetarian dish? From what I can see and read it does seems as though it is, but I want to make sure beforehand.

  16. AJ says:

    Jayme — I’m pretty sure that it is, but not 100%. Be sure to ask when you’re there.

  17. Jayme says:

    Thanks so much! I appreciate the info.

  18. Kerry says:

    BOO on replacing the drinks and sweets shop with a sake bar. The drinks and sweets hut was one of my favorite places in WDW, as well as having the friendliest clerks of any establishment on the planet. The “adultification” of WDW with more and more booze options all the time is not good.

  19. Jayme says:

    AJ,

    Just wanted to inform you that a recent reviewer learned that the okonomiyaki is cooked in lard therefore it is not vegetarian.

  20. WDWCanFan says:

    RE: Kitak — Where is Canada? I’m in Toronto, and there are several places here that sell okonomiyaki, although they all seem to have thier own spin to it.

    RE: Alex — If there was a Disney place with takoyaki. I’d be the first in line. There are several places that sell the delightful octopus balls here (in Toronto), but DP credit or not, I’d would go for them at WDW!

  21. WDWCanFan says:

    OOPS… Hit enter too fast!

    I meant:

    RE: Kitak — Where IN Canada…
    (I know where it is, LOL!)

  22. Carolyn M says:

    I have to say I have never been disappointed with this place. I had the plain Udon noodle soup last week and it was the best I have ever had. I wish it never had to end!

  23. Patrick says:

    Wohoo, I love okonomiyaki and I’m even more upset now, that they were closed in October when we were there!

  24. Kelli Kirchner says:

    Thank you for this review we had read about the Yakitori House in the Epcot Encyclopedia and we wanted to eat there because of the garden- then when we began looking for the Yakitoria House we couldn’t find it- Called Dining and they didn’t know if Katsura Grill was in fact what had taken it’s place and if it had the garden. So, now my questions have all been answered. We are going to try this place when we are at Epcot next time

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