Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teppan Edo

Note:  This restaurant was visited on 15 April 2012.  The review was originally written later that afternoon.

This time we're off to Teppan Edo, the hibachi grill restaurant in the Japan Pavillion, at Epcot.

Teppan Edo
My henchmen for this trip were my son Zachary and my niece, Elizabeth.  We left a little early, as this one was inside a theme park and I didn't want to be late. Even with getting there early, we got parked way out in the middle of BFE and had to really hike it to the entrance.  I mean it, we were way the heck out there.

See that vaguely tan blur at the end of the row?  Yeah... that's the halfway point.
As with Le Cellier back in February, you have to keep in mind that this restaurant is inside the Epcot park.  You're going to need admission into the park as a whole in addition to the cost of the restaurant.

For those of you who haven't ever been to Epcot, Teppan Edo is located in the Japan Pavillion, a part of World Showcase.  Once you're inside Epcot, walk under Spaceship Earth, then continue through Future World to Showcase Plaza.  From Showcase Plaza, you have a choice.  You can take the long way by taking the right-hand path.  Walk to the fifth pavillion (going through Canada, England, France, and Morocco), which is the Japan pavillion.  The faster way is to catch the boat across the World Showcase Lagoon.  If you get off the boat at the Morocco pavillion, just walk to your left to the next pavillion (the Japan pavillion).  If you get off the boat at Germany, just walk to your right to the third pavillion (the Japan pavillion).

Either way, look for the Kanji gate on the shore of the lake.
The Kanji gate, the mark of the Japan pavillion.
Once at the Japan pavillion, check in at the reservations kiosk at the base of the stairs.  Once all checked in, you can go upstairs to the upper level of the Mitsukoshi building and walk inside.

The reservations check-in desk, at the foot of the stairs.

The stairs in question.  You're destination is inside that door.

Once inside the Mitsukoshi building, we had to check in again at the desk just inside the door.  This desk was being worked by a small handful of very pretty, very tiny Japanese women dressed up as geishas who were all smiles and politeness.  They handed me a buzzer and told me we'd be seated shortly.
The second check-in desk.
The wait for a table was literally measured in microseconds.  No sooner did I turn away from the second check-in than our buzzer went off and we were escorted by another geisha down a short hallway and into a room with four hibachi grills in it.  The grills were, naturally enough, all surrounded by seats.

Zachary (left) and Elizabeth (right) walking down the long, thin hallway to the dining room.

First view of the dining room.

And the view once we were seated.
The restaurant is very modern and clean looking, with a lot of tight angles.  Our grill seated ten people, and in addition to the three of us.  I've already mentioned the hostesses who were dressed as geishas.  The serving staff were likewise dressed up in an unusual looking uniform (sorry... at Disney they're called 'costumes') and were doing their very best to be utterly invisible.  I mean it.  They never spoke to us, and when it came time to remove a plate or refill a glass they did so in utter silence, finished their jobs, and then vanished into the air.  I shocked Kotone, our server, when I took a picture of her.  I think the surprise came less from the picture and more from the fact that I wasn't supposed to notice her.

Kotone, our server.  The red "Earning My Ears" ribbon on her name tag indicates that she's still in training.
Given that this was festival seating, we shared our table and our grill with other parties.  The first group was a wonderfully nice family of five (Mom, Dad, Older Sister, Middle Son, Younger Sister) from New Jersey whose names, for whatever reason, I cannot remember at this point.  With a single exception... the younger daughter (who looked to be about eight) was named Stephanie.  Nevermind.  They were very nice to talk to, and it turns out that their son wants to be a chef when he grows up. I advised him to start working in kitchens *now* to see if he still wants to in five or six years.

Our other table-mate was a nice young girl from Germany named Eineke, who had just started with the Disney international student program, and was seeing the sites before she had to go to work.

From left to right:  Oldest Son, Oldest Daughter, and Dad.  Very friendly people, and good conversationalists.
Everyone got their drinks quickly, and our entree orders were taken.  The three of us split a sushi appetizer that, I am sorry to say, was gone before I thought to take a picture of it (what can I say, by that point we were all very hungry) as well as an order of gyo no negi-maki (beef wrapped green onions, served with hickory smoked sea salt).  For an entree, I chose a steak-and-chicken combo dish, Zach went with the swordfish, and Elizabeth chose the pork.  These meats would be accompanied by various grilled vegetables (onions, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, and so on), as well as some udon noodles and the usual spread of sauces.

Within a couple of minutes our hibachi chef arrived with his ingredients cart.  His name was Tomo, and he introduced himself as having "been born in that bastion of Japanese culture and tradition:  Jacksonville, Florida."  Tomo was a trip  Eloquent, skilled, and funny to beat the band.  While cooking, he did all of the traditional hibachi tricks, like the onion volcano, and the flaming happy face (here expanded to a flaming Mickey Mouse head), and managed to include everyone at the table in the fun.  In addition, he told a joke a minute, most of which were the "so stale they've come back around to being funny again" sort of joke.

Our chef, Tomo.  A true culinary badass.

Spinning the spatula.  That's "Mom" from the friendly family sitting opposite from me.
Setting up the sauces.
For the record, I am a certified grillmaster.  I know the ins and outs of grilling food to the point that I am a true expert at it.  It is, you might want to call it, my artform.  And as such, I know another one when I see him.  And buddy, while watching Tomo work, I was watching a true master.  As with all artists, there is a certain joy you get from watching someone as skilled as you are create masterpieces.  It might not be possible, but if you go to Teppan Edo, try and request Tomo's table.

Building the onion volcano.

On the far side of the grill:  the mushrooms begin grilling.
Center left:  the swordfish steaks.  Center right:  the udon noodles are completed with the zucchini.
Close:  the chicken breasts.
All grilled to perfection.
At the far side of the grill: the mushrooms.
In the middle:  the onions and zucchini.
At the front:  the udon noodles.

At the far side:  the mushrooms being finished.
Center left:  the steak beginning to grill.  Center right:  the swordfish finishing.
At the front:  the chicken breasts near completion.
Finally, all the food was completed and everyone was served.  Tomo thanked everybody for coming to the restaurant, thanked us for our kind attention, answered any questions we might have, cleaned up his grill, packed up, and left us to eat.


You might have noticed, having read the three previous reviews, that I use words like "amazing" and "fantastic" a lot.  I like those words.  I feel they convey a sense of quality to whatever it is I apply them to.  Unfortunately, here they just sort of fall flat.  I am really having a hard time coming up with adjectives that convey the utter perfection of this meal.  It simply was.  The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender.  The vegetables were cooked to a turn.  The flavors blended together seamlessly, and all was right with the world.

My steak-and-chicken meal.

Zachary's swordfish.  I literally had to rush, and then stop him from eating, in order to get a picture of it.

While I was scrambling to get a picture of Zach's swordfish, Elizabeth was busily cleaning her plate.  I was lucky to get a picture of what little remained of her pork dish.
Finally, we came to the dessert portion of our meal, and we all decided on the green tea flan.  Yes, I know, it sounds weird, and to be honest it looked like something made out of chewed up grass.  But lordy lordy did it taste wonderful

The green tea flan.  Better than it looks.
The table service, as I already noted, was beyond belief.  Kotone, our server, never let a single glass at the table get below 1/4 full before she had a new glass out to us, and empty plates disappeared so quickly it was almost like they were being teleported away.

Lunch for two (Zachary was paying his own way today) with two entrees, drinks, and two appetizers came to $81.80, and I think it was worth every dime.

I'll be going back some time, believe it.  Teppan Edo just landed at the #1 spot for my personal list of the Best Dining Experiences at Disney World.

Five out of five stars.

Guilty Confession Time:  After lunch, we went downstairs to the department store, where I specifically went to the sake tasting bar.  There, I had a sample of a sparkling sake called Hana Fuga.  It was sweet, and delicious, and I'm planning on buying a couple of bottles very soon.

Next up:  The Rose and Crown Pub, at the England Pavillion, Epcot.

1 comment:

  1. "If you get off the boat at Germany," (see above), does that put you in Peenemunde? Thanks for the sake tip. Love your reviews.