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!
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.
This area is also shared by the two restaurants.
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.
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.
Views from these windows make Tokyo Dining a great place to take in a late supper — with a view of Illuminations.
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.
He also took the opportunity to introduce the staff who would be assisting us throughout the presentation.
And with that, we were ready to explore the menu before us.
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!
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.
I found the ice cold beer and the salty edamame to be really enjoyable together.
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!
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!)
It was finished with a rich Mushroom Demi-Glace and Sukiyaki Rice. And, well…it really did taste a bit like chicken! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was so excited to see this creamy cocktail featured at the Japan Marketplace Booth for the Food and Wine Festival last year!
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?
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For more on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, check out our Main 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Page.