WE’RE BACK at Takumi-Tei Restaurant in Epcot’s Japan to try out a top-tier, signature dining experience!
When the restaurant first opened last year, we gave you a full review of the Omakase ( seven-course) and A La Carte Menus, but now we are back to see if the NINE courses on the Kaiseki Menu could be worth your Disney dimes. Find out if this is a signature dining experience you want to add to your Disney World vacation!
The Kaiseki Menu (AKA Chef’s Table Experience) is a nine-course prix-fixe dinner for $180 a person (not a typo!) with an optional wine and sake pairing for an additional $100. This menu features duck, seabass, and crab so it is a spruced-up version of the seven-course Omakase Menu ($150 with optional drink pairing for $75.00 more). You can check out what we thought of the atmosphere, cocktails, Omakase, and A La Carte Menus when we reviewed Takumi-Tei at the grand opening, but it really does feel like you have left Epcot and stepped right into Japan.
We were escorted to the Water Room which is the home of the Chef’s Table and has an INDOOR waterfall flowing behind the head of the table.
Our place was set with chopsticks at the ready (and forks standing by, upon request), a menu outlining each of the courses, and a napkin folded like a little kimono (we tried to keep this in-tact for as long as possible, but all bets were off once the food arrived).
Before the meal began, the servers gave us warm hand towels that were relaxing aaaand reminded us this isn’t your average table service dinner.
After our hands were cleaned and prepped, we were ready to dive into all NINE of the courses!
Course 1: Otoshi & Piper Heidsieck Brut Sparkling Wine
Otoshi is a small bite of food before the meal to refresh your mouth and prepare you for the courses to come. At Takumi-Tei, the Chef prepares a different Otoshi daily, but ours featured cucumber and watermelon. It is meant to be taken in one bite (Don’t mind if we do!) and we thought it was a very bright and refreshing way to start the meal.
The mini-dish was paired with Piper Heidsieck Brut Sparkling Wine.
It was light and fruity and served as a nice compliment to the sweet and fresh flavors of the evening’s Otoshi.
Course 2: Mozaiku Roll & Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake
Palates feelin’ fresh and stomachs rumbling, we headed into the second course and MY OH MY was it a beaut. I don’t think you’re ready for this sushi. This Mozaiku Roll was layered with Tuna, Yellowtail, Asparagus, Red Shiso Rice, topped with Tobiko (flying fish roe), and served with Lemongrass Ponzu and a hearty portion of Wasabi.
Is that not GORGEOUS?! The fishiness of the Tuna and Yellowtail was subtle and the Lemongrass Ponzo was really the superstar that brought all the flavors together. If you want to add a little spice to your roll, add some of the creamy wasabi (it was perfect, and we wished we could have kept for the whole meal — FYI, you probably can if you ask!). The second course also introduced us to the first of three sakes of the night: Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Honjozo.
This pairing was smooth, easy to drink, and was so light that — dare we say it — we didn’t find all that much flavor. This light sake took a backseat to let the sushi roll really shine, so this drink would be a great choice for those who are new to sake or who don’t enjoy strongly-flavored sake.
Course 3: Hama no Kani
Bring on the “crab on the beach” and a plate that had us asking a lot of questions! (How did they get the rocks inside? Can I buy one? Is it microwave and dishwasher safe? Does it double as a fishbowl? We need answers!) The Hama no Kani had Ponzu Crab, Toasted Crab, Frisee, Plum Wine Reduction, Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon Radish Tsukemono (pickled), Leek Gel, and Sesame Pollen.
We’ll admit it, our reviewer at this meal isn’t the biggest fan of crab in general, so it was tough to munch on that toasted li’l guy. BUT, crab aversion aside, the soft crab was actually pretty tasty and the Heirloom Tomatoes were a nice touch. This was definitely a refreshing and lighter dish before we got into the more filling courses ahead.
Course 4: Ochazuke & Midorikawa “Green River” Junmai Sake
The server referred to Ochazuke as a “Japanese comfort food” and we were all ears. We were served a bowl of Misoyaki Seabass, Karikari Sushi, Shirasu (white fish pieces), Tsukemono (pickled cabbage), Toasted Nori (seaweed), and Shimeji Mushroom, then the server poured piping hot Ocha Dashi Broth over the top.
The Seabass was cooked perfectly, there were subtle hints of Green Tea throughout, and it really did live up to our expectations of Japanese comfort food.
This course was paired with Midorikawa “Green River” Junmai Sake.
This drink was much sweeter than the first sake and contrasted nicely with the salty flavors of the Ochazuke.
Course 5: Kamo & Jean Claude Boisset Les Ursulines Pinot Noir
We thought we had reached the peak of presentation with the [almost] fishbowl until the server delivered a huge glass dome with smoke swirling inside.
We tried to peek through the haze (Madame Leota, are you in there?), but the smoke poured out onto the table as the server lifted the glass away. The clearing smoke left behind the Kamo with Marinated Duck, Kabocha Squash, Edamame Beans, Japanese Mizuna, Cured Duck Egg Yolk, and Grape Reduction.
Yet another home run! The duck was tender and smoky and the kabocha squash was so sweet, we could have eaten a whole plate. The Kamo was paired with Jean Claude Boisset Les Ursulines Pinot Noir.
This red wine played off the smokiness of the duck and sweetness of the squash, making this a great pair to the Kamo.
Course 6: Hashiyasume
The next course came right when we needed it (almost as if they had planned it that way! 😉 ) and served a similar purpose to the first course. The Hashiyasume is a palate cleanser of Cucumber and Ginger and was designed to be eaten in one bite.
Prepare yourself, because this felt like a punch in the mouth — but in the BEST way! The spicy ginger followed by the cool cucumber refreshed our tastebuds and made us excited to see what was coming next!
Course 7: Wagyu Taberkurabe & DonnaFugata Sul Volcano Etna Rosso Nerello
WHAT UP, WAGYU! We can’t contain our excitement because, WOW, how could it keep getting better?
Wagyu is Japanese cattle that gets a lot of hype for its beef being tender, marbled, and flavorful. American ranchers are trying their best to replicate this unique meat, but in our taste-test, the Japanese Wagyu was the clear standout. The Wagyu Taberkurabe was served on what resembled ice floes (thanks, Elsa!) with Japanese A-5 Wagyu Strip Steak, American Wagyu Strip Steak, Roast Cippolini Onion, Curried Potato, Seasonal Mushroom, Yuzu Kosho, Fresh Grated Wasabi, and Arima Sansho Pepper Reduction.
We asked for our steak cooked medium-rare, as recommended by the chef, and the Japanese wagyu was like BUTTER.
The meat was rich and tender but the seared crust still managed to be memorably delicious! Our favorite sides were the potatoes and mushrooms, but all of them went well with the meat! This course was paired with the manager’s favorite red wine, DonnaFugata Sul Volcano Etna Rosso Nerello…
…which was a fruity and spicy compliment to the meat.
Course 8: Castella & Joto Yuzu Citrus Sake
But wait, there’s MORE?! On our last visit, we tried the Suiren Dani Water Cake which was…. unique…so we were happy to be able to try something different for dessert this time around! They did NOT disappoint with the Castella Cake with Honey Meringue, Sesame Brittle, Hojicha Custard, and Honey Caramel.
The cake was rich but not overly sweet, the Honey Meringue was fluffy, and the sauces really brought everything together. We could have done without the custard, but we would eat the Honey Caramel by itself any day of the week.
The Castella was paired with Joto Yuzu Citrus Sake…
…which we thought tasted like juice and was an excellent dessert sake!
Course 9: Tea Ceremony
We experienced a Tea Ceremony on opening night, but this time was JUST as special as we remembered. Historically, there are over 1,000 steps to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but Takumi-Tei performs a condensed version at the end of the meal that is still a sight to see!
Each guest received an empty cup and a team of servers prepared the Matcha Tea table-side.
After they filled our cups, the servers showed us how to properly take the first sip and show gratitude for the tea. This is a wonderful way to experience part of Japanese culture and serves as a very special way to end the meal.
Nine courses and four hours later, we finished up our Chef’s Table Experience at Takumi-Tei. Yes, you read that right: FOUR hours (and some change). The restaurant estimated about a three-hour dinner, so we weren’t too surprised, but this is not the type of dinner where you have time to catch one more Frozen Ever After ride afterward. It is an immersive, cultural experience full of delicious foods, creative presentations, and thoughtful service. The Chef’s Table Experience was overall much more special than ordering a la carte (well it IS twice as expensive), buuuut if you have a large party (more than 8), restless kids, or limited time to see Disney World, you may have better luck with the other menu offerings or at another Disney Dining location.
Our reviewer’s personal feeling about this meal, however? Overwhelmingly positive. The cast members at Takumi-Tei recognized her from her first visit and came to welcome her back to the restaurant — even pointing out where she sat for her previous meal! We can’t express how generous and incredible the cast members are at this restaurant. And the meal itself was truly enchanting. Our reviewer noted that this will be a cherished memory for her…and we hope it will be for your family as well if you dine at Takumi-Tei.
If the Chef’s Table Experience at Takumi-Tei sounds like your cup of tea, make sure to book your reservation in advance by calling (407) 827-8504 or by emailing [email protected] They do not accept the Disney Dining Plan but they DO offer DVC, Passholder, and Tables in Wonderland discounts for a selection of food and drinks!
Want to find out what ELSE we’ve tried (spoiler alert: a LOT) at Takumi-Tei? Check out our full review of the Omakase and A La Carte Menus HERE!
Takumi-Tei Chef’s Table vs. Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table
Now, you may be wondering how Takumi-Tei’s Chef’s Table compares to other Chef’s Tables in Disney World — especially to the most in-demand table in all of the resort: Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table.
Pricing at Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table starts at $250 per guest with optional wine pairing beginning at $150 and Takumi-Tei’s Chef’s Table pricing begins at $180 per guest with an optional wine and sake pairing beginning at $100.
Editor’s Note: beginning August 30, 2020 Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table price will increase to $350 per guest.
Both restaurants offer private dining experiences for your party, but Victoria and Albert’s accepts reservations for 2-8 guests and Takumi-Tei requires 6-8 guests to prevent being charged a room fee. Both restaurants observe a dress code (though it is not currently mentioned on Takumi-Tei’s website, so call to be sure!), though at Victoria and Albert’s men are required to wear a dress jacket and jeans are not permitted by men or women. Takumi-Tei does not have a posted minimum age requirement, unlike Victoria and Albert’s, which requires guests to be 10 years or older.
Takumi-Tei’s Chef’s Table is located in a quiet room for guests looking to experience the Japanese culture and take in peaceful sounds of the waterfall. Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table is a more interactive dining experience since you are seated next to the kitchen and can watch the activity while your food is being prepared.
Something important to note about these restaurants: Victoria and Albert’s is located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (reservation includes valet parking) and Takumi-Tei Restaurant is located inside the Japan pavilion in Epcot (meaning: park admission is required).
Victoria and Albert’s offers guests 10+ courses of upscale American food (check out our full review here) while Takumi-Tei’s Chef’s Table features 9 courses of traditional Japanese cuisine. Takumi-Tei’s menu may change slightly each day depending on availability and the chef’s inspiration, but they are unable to adapt the menu entirely to suit different dietary preferences. At Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s table, each menu and wine pairing is unique and can be catered to different allergies or needs.
Still Can’t Decide?
The great news is, delicious food and friendly staff await at either restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at both of these restaurants and it really comes down to which works best for your unique party! We recommend taking a look at which reservations are available and seeing how Victoria and Albert’s OR Takumi-Tei may fit in with your other Disney World vacation plans.
Looking for an alternative to the Chef’s Table Experience? Check out what we thought of the Chef’s TASTING Experience at Takumi-Tei HERE and at Victoria and Albert’s HERE!
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Will you be adding Takumi-Tei’s Chef’s Table Experience to your Disney World vacation? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!
Disclosure: In nearly all circumstances, Disney Food Blog writers and photographers pay full price for their own travel, hotel, food, beverage, and event tickets. We do this because it’s important to us as journalists to ensure not only that we give you unbiased opinions, but also that you can trust us to do so since we’re paying our own way. On rare occasions, when we are invited by a company to attend a preview as media, and when we choose to accept that invitation, we will always make you, our readers, aware of that situation. Today, we were invited by Disney World to attend the Chef’s Table dinner at Takumi-Tei. Note that when we attend events as media we are 1) Not required to review that event/food on any of our channels, and 2) Not required to review that event/food favorably. You can always count on DFB to give you a 100% unbiased and honest review of any event that we attend, food that we eat, or beverage that we drink. You can see more in our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for reading. — AJ