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Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Japan Food and Beverage Pairing

We are ramping up for another fantastic Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Today, we’re reviewing a fun Special Event from the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

We are heading over to Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion for the Food and Beverage Pairing experience. The light meals feature beverages paired with tasting-sized portions of the restaurant’s cuisine.

I’ve enjoyed dinner at Tokyo Dining as well as lots of fun meals at Teppan Edo, so I was pretty sure I was in for a treat! While we’d done the Morocco food and beverage pairing event, we’d not yet experienced the Japan version. Here we go!

Atmosphere

When I arrived for the Food and Beverage Pairing, I checked in at the stand that serves both Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining. The cool, sleek waiting area features simple, modern decor and comfortable low lighting.

Waiting Area Serves Both Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo

This area is also shared by the two restaurants.

Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo Waiting Area from Another Angle

Step into the Tokyo Dining seating area, and the same modern Japanese vibe is prevalent throughout. A sushi show kitchen takes up space along one wall.

Tokyo Dining Seating and Open Sushi Kitchen

The other side of the restaurant is dominated by natural light and large picture windows featuring excellent views of World Showcase. The indirect lighting here is especially nice in the evening hours.

Additional Tokyo Dining Seating

Views from these windows make Tokyo Dining a great place to take in a late supper — with a view of Illuminations.

View of World Showcase Lagoon

We were here in the afternoon, but there was plenty to grab our attention with the presentation of the meal that we were about to enjoy.

To begin our pairing journey, the restaurant’s manager acquainted us with the program, explaining a little about what we were to experience during the event.

The Restaurant Manager

He also took the opportunity to introduce the staff who would be assisting us throughout the presentation.

The Manager Introduces the Staff

And with that, we were ready to explore the menu before us.

Eats

I am a bit of a sake novice, but I know that I enjoy it! So it was a real pleasure — and very educational — to sit down to a meal specifically planned to enhance the enjoyment of this traditional Japanese beverage. And our menus were gorgeous!

Menu for Pairing — Click to Enlarge

As we arrived and were settling in, we were served Frozen Kirin Beer as a starter, which paired with the Edamame that was placed in the center of each table.

Frozen Kirin Beer

I found the ice cold beer and the salty edamame to be really enjoyable together.

Table Setting

Next, I surveyed the beverages before me. On a curved wooden board were three glasses with different types of Sake. Just below the glasses were some points about each variety and a place to take notes and jot down impressions. I love this!

Sake Pairings

For our first pairing, we enjoyed the Yaegaki Nigori Sake. This particular sake is unfiltered, and is typically lighter and sweeter in flavor. It was paired with a fun first course with a Sunshine State twist — Menchi-Katsu.

This traditional Japanese preparation features ground meat, shaped into a cutlet and deep-fried. And the meat was — you guessed it! — Alligator! (And more enjoyable than I expected!)

First Pairing — Mench-Katsu with Unusual Florida Twist

It was finished with a rich Mushroom Demi-Glace and Sukiyaki Rice. And, well…it really did taste a bit like chicken! :-)

Gator! — Cross Section

To complement our next course, we enjoyed Kurosawa Premium Reserve Sake. The flavor is floral and delicate, with a buttery note that went well with the fish dishes we would enjoy in this course.

Our second pairing featured two different plates. The first dish made use of another Florida ingredient — Gulf Shrimp stuffed with Tofu Cream Cheese, which was finished with a taste of Citrus Fruit. Served on a bed of Lettuce, it was fresh and beautiful.

Second Pairing — Florida Gulf Shrimp with with Tofu Cream Cheese

Our next plate included three pieces of Temari Sushi, which were almost as much art as they were food. Temari Sushi is formed into a sphere, as you can see. Our plate included Smoked Salmon with Edamame and Creamy Salmon Sauce; Avocado and Creamy Yuzu; and Sea Scallops Marinated in Ginger and Tosazu Vinaigrette.

Second Pairing Continues — Temari Sushi

Chef Noriko was on hand to walk us through each course, and explain a little about them. This is my favorite part of the special events during the Food and Wine Festival. It’s almost as much fun to learn as it is to eat!

And she was really an incredible presenter! She was so much fun to watch — very animated. And she was eager to answer everyone’s questions about the cuisine and preparation.

The Chef Speaking Throughout the Course Presentation

Our third and final sake selection came next. The Otokoyama was the dryest of the sakes we tasted, with a crisp quality owing to the acidity. It was paired with the Rack of Lamb marinated in Miso, and served with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes.

We also enjoyed a flavorful Noodle Soup of Florida Blue Crab and Miso.

Third Pairing — Rack of Lamb and Florida Blue Crab Miso Noodle Soup

Even though we all know that Japanese cuisine doesn’t typically end on a sweet note, we did enjoy a fun take on dessert — a Green Tea Piña Colada.

Dessert — Green Tea Piña Colada

The frozen drink is beautiful, sweet, and refreshing. Sprinkled with Matcha Powder (ground green tea), it offers a nice balance between the grassy green tea and the rich coconut flavor.

Green Tea Piña Colada — Side View

I was so excited to see this creamy cocktail featured at the Japan Marketplace Booth for the Food and Wine Festival last year!

Overall

I really enjoyed this event. I’m a fan of the atmosphere and food at Tokyo Dining anyway. And it was fun to attend a dinner focusing on food and beverage pairings with something other than wine. I also found it a valuable twist to include so many local ingredients.

If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine or sake, it would be an entertaining and informative event. You can find out how to book it this year on our Epcot Food and WIne Festival Special Events Page.

Want Even More Information About the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival?

As always, check out all of our in-depth 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival coverage on our Epcot Food and Wine Festival page!

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Index

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth and Menu Index — MENUS AND FOOD PHOTOS NOW AVAILABLE!
2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Special Events
2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Low-Cost/Free Seminars and Activities
2014 Eat to the Beat Concert Schedule and Dining Package Information
Epcot Food and Wine Festival Fans Facebook Page
2014 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend Events
2014 Tower of Terror 10-miler Events
2014 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic: Menus, Booking Info available!
2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Menus and FOOD PHOTOS
2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Reviews, and 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Reviews
2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Gluten Free Items

How to Book Epcot Food & Wine Festival Events

To book all special events and demonstrations, call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378) starting July 31. Culinary Demonstrations, Beverage Seminars, Mixology Seminars, and general admission for some special events will be bookable online at www.epcotfoodfestival.com.

Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and Golden Oak Residents are eligible for a $2 discount (per person, per event) for beverage and mixology seminars and culinary demos taking place Mon-Thurs during the festival. These members will be able to book seminars and demos July 25th. Discounts are by phone at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378). Stay tuned to DisneyFoodBlog.com and the Disney Food Blog Newsletter for details.

Chase Disney Visa Cardholders may book select special events, demos, and seminars on July 29th. A limited number of seats will be available for this booking date.

2014 Food and Wine Guide 3D

News! The DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book is now available for pre-order!

The best part? By pre-ordering, you automatically get our 2013 Food and Wine Festival Guide for FREE, instantly! That means you can start planning NOW for your trip!

Use code prefoodwine at check-out for a $3 discount!

For more on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, check out our Main 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Page.

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One Comment

  1. Sean says:

    I went to this event last year as well, and it was terrific! The menu changes every week it seems, as I remember having a duck course among other things. I also happened to be lucky enough to be seated with some sake exporters from Tokyo, so it was a very informative meal on two fronts!

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