Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

Special thanks to Christina Relacion, who writes Scenes From the T and recently contributed several photos for the food blog’s Best Restaurants for Thanksgiving post. She and her husband put together this great guest post about Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s World Showcase!

Tokyo Dining

Have you ever gone to a place numerous times and then found a hidden gem? Tokyo Dining inside the Japan pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase is one of those diamonds in the rough.

My husband and I are WDW veterans and hadn’t even ventured inside the walls of the pavilion until our most recent trip. But being huge sushi fans it amazed us that we had never had an experience at Tokyo Dining.

Judging by the low number of crowds in the pavilion, it seemed that others were also not as adventurous to wander past the iconic pagodas, koi ponds and faux Shinto shrine gate. But inside the pavilion’s massive structures are the most mouth-watering and delectable sushi, sashimi and other Japanese delights.

Gate Outside of Japan Pavilion

Gate Outside of Japan Pavilion

When we first entered the second-story restaurant in the Mitsukoshi-owned building, Cast Members dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos greeted us. They all graciously welcomed us into the restaurant making us feel like visitors to someone’s home instead of guests at a theme park eatery.

We were swiftly taken to a table overlooking the World Showcase lagoon. The view was spectacular! We mentally took note that this would be a fabulous spot to enjoy Illuminations in the future. A large patio wraps around the second-story giving you an enhanced view of the evening fireworks show.

Dining Room at Tokyo Dining

Dining Room at Tokyo Dining

Tokyo Dining’s menu is comparable to other sushi restaurants. It includes the typical California roll (avocado, cucumber and crab wrapped in seaweed paper and rice) and other favorites such as Spicy Tuna and Salmon rolls, and tempura (battered covered vegetables or meat). One of the first things we noticed were the prices were right in line with other sushi restaurants we have visited (prices begin around $4).

Tokyo Dining Sushi Chefs

Tokyo Dining Sushi Chefs

The menu has enough variety that we were each able to order something different, whether it was a selection of sushi and sashimi or pre-selected meals such as a Bento box.

My husband, Brett, enjoyed a Spicy Philadelphia Roll (a spicy tuna mixture with cream cheese, green onions, and sesame seed, $7.50 for a roll of 5-6 pieces) , yellowtail sashimi (fish with no rice, $9.95 for 5-6 pieces) and salmon roll (salmon wrapped in seaweed paper and rice, $6 for a roll of 5-6 pieces). The Spicy Philadelphia Roll was a pleasant surprise of hot and cool contrasting tastes. The cream cheese nicely followed the tang of the spicy tuna mixture. This roll is one we had never found at any other sushi restaurant.

Sushi Selections

Sushi Selections

On the other hand, I enjoyed a Bento box. A pre-selected concoction of beef teriyaki, seaweed salad, tuna sashimi and tempura vegetables served with Miso soup (a clear broth with tofu) and a Japanese-style side salad with ginger-infused dressing, all for $23.50. I was a bit apprehensive of the seaweed salad, but it was one of the best parts of the meal. It had a sweet flavor with a little crunch.

Bento Box

Bento Box

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

To end the meal, our server brought out a special First Anniversary dessert for us. The chocolate-ginger cake (normally $5.50) is comprised of layers of ginger-flavored cake with chocolate mousse and a dark chocolate glaze. It was the perfect ending to our meal.

Chocolate Ginger Cake

Chocolate Ginger Cake

Although some people are apprehensive about eating raw fish, there are many items on the menu for vegetarians and those who are picky eaters. A great rule of thumb: tempura-battered items are generally fried. You can also select sushi rolls that are made of items such as sweet potato, cucumber, asparagus and other tasty veggies. For sushi rookies, we recommend trying something such as tuna for your first raw experience due to its taste and texture.

The service and quality at Tokyo Dining is some of the best in WDW. Cast members go out of their way to make your experience pleasurable. If you decide to make this your first sushi experience, you won’t be disappointed.

2009 Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages

Candlelight Processional (copyright Disney)

Candlelight Processional (copyright Disney)

Please Note: According to MousePlanet, Disneyland’s Candlelight Spectacular will be a hard ticket event for D23 Charter Members only, with an additional price tag of $275. The following information is rumored for Disney World ONLY.

Stitch Kingdom is reporting that this year’s Candlelight Processional Dinner Package at Disney World includes access to a reserved area to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth! This added benefit might just make it that much more worth it to book a Dinner Package!

The site also lists all of the specifics regarding the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package, including costs and times for the different tiers of restaurants:
Tier I: Biergarten and Garden Grill
Tier II: Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose and Crown, and San Angel Inn
Tier III: Chefs De France, Coral Reef, Le Cellier, Teppen Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia

Word on the street (e.g. the message boards) is that booking this year will be on the regular 90-day schedule, and that Processional Dinner Packages will not be available via the online booking system.

As of right now, the Candlelight Processional will be offered November 27 – December 30, 2009, at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15 pm.

Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing: Part II

World Showcase

World Showcase

Here’s the second in our series of Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing! Today, we’ll discuss the restaurants with the best views for Illuminations fireworks viewing. (The previous blog post, Part I, has information about Wishes fireworks viewing.)

Illuminations, Reflections of Earth, is shown at Epcot at 9:00PM every night, Saturday-Thursday. Friday nights vary between 9:00PM and 8:00PM depending on Epcot’s schedule.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, patio table
Rose and Crown in Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion is the quintessential dining and viewing spot for Illuminations. If you’re lucky enough to get one of the coveted tables out on the covered patio, Rose and Crown’s view of Illuminations will offer you one of best experiences in Walt Disney World. There’s simply nothing like it.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room

That said, the fierce competition for these tables has made me forego even making a reservation for dinner at Rose and Crown over the past few visits to Disney World. While Rose and Crown cannot guarantee their ability to grant requests for patio tables, hopefuls begin crowding the podium before 7:00PM each night, willing to wait as long as it takes. The line of patrons waiting to check in can stretch all the way to Tudor Lane. As a result, Rose and Crown has instituted a policy (in my experience) that those checking in at the podium may wait only one hour for a table request; after an hour, they must take the table offered, or choose not to dine at Rose and Crown.

Patio View

Patio View

How can you improve your chances? Visit Disney World during a slow season (e.g. Winter or early Fall), book your reservation for around 7:30-7:45pm (it’s simply not fair to the servers to book earlier; unless, of course, you’re willing to pay three times the tip!), and tell the cast members when you check in that you’re willing to wait the hour for a fireworks-view, patio table.

Back Patio

Back Patio

Note that the Rose and Crown patio stretches around the Rose and Crown, meaning you might be seated at the side of the restaurant. You can still see the fireworks here, but the view will not be as good as from the back patio, directly next to the lagoon. You can specify that you’re requesting a back-patio, fireworks-view table, but patio is patio… .

Side Patio

Side Patio

Rose and Crown is a casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable. No reason to dress up. By the way, the potato and leek soup is to die for!

La Hacienda de San Angel
One of Epcot’s newest restaurants, La Hacienda de San Angel, offers — for the first time in Epcot history — an Illuminations view rivaling that at Rose & Crown! While many of the tables offer excellent views (the windows are expansive), those that are right up against the windows will be highly prized.

View from Our La Hacienda de San Angel Window Table

One of the Main Dining Rooms at La Hacienda

Bistro de Paris
This high-end restaurant located on the second floor of the building housing Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France pavilion has excellent Illuminations viewing. Again, you’ll want to arrive early and request a window table, but a steep price and nearly hidden entrance (the entrance to Bistro de Paris is hidden around the back of the Le Chefs de France building) mean that competition for seating is limited compared to Rose and Crown.

Fireworks from Bistro de Paris Window

The dining here is top-notch, but the view from the second story windows can’t be beat. Dress up for this one and make it a celebration.

Cantina de San Angel
The Mexico pavilion’s counter service dining option has been touted by some, panned by others, but everyone agrees that it’s a good option for watching Illuminations…assuming you can commandeer a table and stand your ground!

Cantina de San Angel

Because the tables are lined up along the World Showcase Lagoon, patrons have complained about kiddos squeezing themselves between tables and fence to get a better view. Also, folks who might not have as much need for personal space as you do may invite themselves to infringe upon yours by “sharing” your table.

This spot might be more hassle than it’s worth, but it’s an inexpensive way to get one of the best views in the park. And the food’s tasty, too!

Tokyo Dining
Tokyo Dining, in Epcot’s Japan pavilion, was recently renovated and re-opened in 2007. Specializing in sushi and tempura, the restaurant shares the second floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store building with Japan’s other table-service restaurant, Teppan Edo.

Tokyo Dining

This might be your best bet for getting an advanced dining reservation less than 90 days out, as many folks don’t yet know about Tokyo Dining, aren’t sure where it is, or simply don’t want to try the food. Luckily, this means that the floor-to-ceiling window views are up for grabs!

Dining Room

Dining Room

As with the other restaurants, make a reservation for an hour or so before Illuminations and arrive early. Request a window table (tell them you’ll wait if necessary). Once seated, enjoy your meal leisurely until the show begins.

View of World Showcase Lagoon

View of World Showcase Lagoon

Note that there is an outdoor, public walkway along the windows at Tokyo Dining. If people notice it’s there, they may crowd it before the show. You’ll still be able to see the fireworks, but this could possibly block the view a bit.

Outdoor Walkway

Outdoor Walkway

Tokyo Dining is a more casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable.

Other Potential Viewing Spots With Dining
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend either of these spots for Illuminations viewing, Tangerine Cafe in Morocco and Liberty Inn at the American Adventure might offer a decent place to sit to see the higher-up fireworks. At Tangerine Cafe, even if you’re sitting outside (the windows are too opaque to see from the inside), the crowds will likely mar your view of the action on the water. At Liberty Inn, the American Gardens Theater tends to block out the lagoon view. But both offer spots to sit, take a load off, and nosh a bit while you listen to the music and enjoy at least some of the show.

If you have other ideas and options, be sure to let me know in the comments section below!

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!