Yup. You heard me right.
Earlier this month, Takumi-Tei opened its doors in the Japan Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. You’ll find it in front on the first level on the far right – next to Mitsukoshi and below Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining. The new dining experience was initially walk up only but started taking reservations on July 16th.
The entrance is discrete in that way that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled on a hidden secret.
Once inside you’ll find a stunning space and be greeted warmly with an explanation of the theming of the spaces inside – rooms themed to honor the natural elements of wood, paper, stone, water, and earth.
Takumi-Tei’s Paper Room
We were seated in the wood room and quickly settled into our seats and menus.
The menu offers à la cart items or an omakase chef’s selection tasting menu. They honor the usual discounts (DVC, AP, Tables in Wonderland) for everything but the omakase option.
We went with the omakase, which is currently priced at $130. You have the option of adding a beverage pairing, which is currently an additional $75, but we opted to forego that and choose our own drinks. (Spoiler alert: I’m so, so glad we did. I’m sure the pairing is lovely – but in choosing my own I stumbled on two of the best cocktails I’ve experienced on property.)
And as a side note: One of our party has a peanut allergy so the general manager was kind enough to come out and speak to us about the fact that Takumi-Tei has completely eliminated all peanuts and peanut products from their kitchen and menu. (Though of course confirm this for yourself when you dine there if you’re dealing with similar restrictions.)
Otoshi – Imagined daily by the chefs of Takumi-Tei
Otoshi is a quick bite that is served first in Japanese restaurants. Here at Takumi-Tei it serves as a sort of amuse bouche. It changes from day to day at the whim of the chef. Ours was a sort of sesame seed paste with micro wasabi. Very earthy and interesting and a great way to wake up our taste buds for the meal.
Compressed Watermelon, Tuna Sashimi, Frisee, Grapefruit, Daikon and Watermelon Rind Tsukemono, Yuzu Dust, Watermelon Vinaigrette
This was not a part of the omakase but looked so tempting that we added one on to try. The pressed watermelon was so interesting – like experiencing a crisper, denser version of the regular fruit.
Holy. Mother. Of.
So yes, I did the omakase. And it was divine. But the lower key play here might be to drop in for a whole, whole lot of sushi. Because don’t get me wrong – everything that I put in my mouth that night was to die for. But I could have lived on this dish alone.
Temari sushi are lovely little hand rolled ball-shaped sushi (te-mari literally means “hand ball”) originally made for Japanese performers so that they could eat without disturbing their makeup. They are pretty little bite-sized things that are made all the more divine at Takumi-Tei with fresh fish, buttery west coast uni, and edible floral garnishes.
I might be fighting the urge to go back for more right now.
Roasted Bone Marrow, Braised Jackman Farms Wagyu Shortrib, Yuzu Kosho, Wasabi Shiso Bavaroise, Warishita
This was stunning. And melted in my mouth.
If anything should be becoming readily apparent as you read this, it is that this food was artwork. Every step of this meal was as carefully orchestrated for its pacing and look and smell as for its taste.
Palate Cleansing Course
Japanese A5 Wagyu Strip Steak paired with Jackman Farms Wagyu Strip Steak, Roast Cippolini Onion, Curried Potato, Seasonal Mushroom, Yuzu Kosho, Fresh Grated Wasabi, Arima Sansho Pepper Reduction
I haven’t experienced a beef showdown at this level since our dinner at Victoria & Albert. The American Wagyu-style strip steak was to die for but everyone at the table agreed that the Japanese A5 Wagyu (on the right in the picture) was the clear winner in this dinner…which, let’s be real, had no real losers. Just looking at this picture is making me want to run back again for more.
Japanese Water Cake, Rose, Kuromitsu, Kinako Crumb
This is a bit of an acquired taste. Some of us opted to go for a different dessert – but I thought this rounded out the meal perfectly. It’s not so much a delicious, sweet dessert as an earthy, interesting, mildly sweet end to the meal. If you’re looking for something more traditionally “delicious dessert”, then you might instead opt for….
Yuzu Cheesecake, Spiced Kabocha, Candied Yuzu, Orange Yuzu Gel, Blackberry Sake
This was not a part of the omakase menu but was amazing and worth adding on. A sort of deconstructed cheesecake with pops of flavor from citrus, spices, and sake.
Also that little green tea powder Mickey stole my heart.
Traditional ceremony featuring Matcha Green Tea
One of the big selling points for me in choosing the omakase – aside from the incredible food that it included – was the fact that ordering it is the only way to experience the tea ceremony at the end of the meal at Takumi-Tei.
This was such a beautiful experience and perfect way to close out the meal.
Jofo Yuzu Citrus Sake, Rum, Fresh Mint, Yuzu Juice, Orange
I. Loved. This. Drink.
The alcohol is barely detectable. It’s not overly sweet in the slightest. It’s all citrus and mint and smooth sake and I need it in my life on a regular basis.
Roku Gin, Sayuri “White Lilly” Nigori Sake, Calipco, Lychee
I came very, very close to ordering a second Kochi but in the name of research I forced myself to try something else…and I’m so glad I did. The Kami was to die for. Sweeter than the first because of the lychee and Calipco, but so smooth and creamy. This was actually served to me with the wagyu course and the timing was perfect. The sweet creamy drink cut the strong wagyu so perfectly that I might have sent the drink around the table and insisted that everyone else try it too.
On the way out, we were lucky enough to get a tour of the other spaces in the restaurant – including the gorgeous chef’s table space. This secluded room seats a minimum of 6 up to a maximum of 8 and takes removal from the outside world to the next level as you dine alone with friends with a literal waterfall running down the wall beside you. This experience might just be next on my to do list.
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If you haven’t already guessed, I cannot recommend this experience enough. It’s really a beautiful example of how Disney has come to understand that many of its guests want more from their experience than attractions and simple foods – and would be in my top 5 list of reasons why Disney is much, much more than the casual visitor realizes.
It’s hard to put into words just how much the world falls away while you’re inside. Our meal started at 7:30 p.m. and ran for more than 2 1/2 hours. At some point we looked at our watches and realized that it was 9:30 p.m. and Illuminations must have come and gone outside without our realizing it. You would never in 1000 years realize while inside that a bustling theme park was just yards away.
I imagine that leaving this peaceful space and exiting into the light of day in Epcot would be almost jarring but we didn’t have that issue. The park had long closed by the time we left at after 10 p.m. Everything was peaceful and quiet and the stroll to our cars while we talked about the meal we’d just had was the perfect end to the perfect meal.