Teppan Edo Epcot's Japan
Jack Spence is on a leave of absence until 2014. This is a reprint of a blog he wrote several years ago. This blog originally ran in 2010 and was accurate at the time of publication.
No visit to Epcot would be complete without dining at one of the restaurants in World Showcase. Each country offers a unique experience and an opportunity to learn about another culture. Today I'm going to write about Teppan Edo, one of the eateries found in the Japan Pavilion.
Your adventure begins on the second floor of Japan's main building. If the stairs are a bit intimidating, an elevator can be found next to the front entrance of the Mitsukoshi Department Store.
At the check-in desk, you'll be given a pager and asked to wait in the adjacent seating area. This area also serves as the waiting room for Tokyo Dining, a table-service restaurant that shares this floor.
The restaurants open at noon. If you can arrange your meal at this time, you're in for a treat. Before business commences each day, all of the servers and chefs line up in formation, as if waiting for inspection. Then two hostesses welcome you to Japan and their restaurants. The ceremony is charming and worth seeing. It helps set the mood for your meal to come. I don't have any "still" pictures of this, but I did capture it on video (see below).
When your table is ready, you will be escorted down a long hall to one of five dining rooms. Each room has four tables that seat eight. So unless you're traveling with a large group, you will be sharing your meal with other guests. But that's okay. Teppan Edo isn't about intimate dining. It's about fun and showmanship. In no time at all, you'll be conversing with your fellow tablemates. And if you're shy, there is a surefire opening question you can ask to get the conversation going, "Where are you visiting from?"
Shortly after getting settled, your server will appear and introduce herself. Drink orders will be taken and hot towels handed to each guest. Besides cleaning your hands, feel free to wipe your brow. If you're like me, nothing is so refreshing as a clean face.
Each place setting has a pair of chopsticks waiting for you when you arrive. However, forks are offered for those of you who need them. Also, your waitress can devise some "training" chopsticks if you'd like to try to learn how to use them.
The restaurant features teppanyaki style cuisine. Teppan means iron plate and yaki means grilled, broiled or pan-fried. Here, a chef entertainingly prepares your meal at the table, while you watch. The concept originated in 1945 as a way of introducing western-style foods to the Japanese. However, the concept quickly became more popular with foreign visitors than with the Japanese themselves. So as time progressed, the chef's performances became more elaborate and amusing to continue attracting tourists.
Appetizers such as sushi, miso soup, soybean pods, and tempura are available. These dishes are not prepared at the table, but are brought out just prior to the chef arriving to cook your meal.
Shrimp, scallops, chicken breast, and sirloin steak are the meats offered here. They can be ordered individually, or in a number of different combinations. Accompaniments include Udon noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, and onions. In addition, everyone is served a bowl of steamed white rice. (Feel free to ask for seconds of rice.)
When the chef arrives, he or she is introduced to you by your server and then the show begins. As you can tell by the next picture, they are usually pretty jovial and ready to have some fun.
The first order of business is to give each guest some dipping sauce. These include ginger, mustard, and cream which the chef deftly pours into serving dishes.
With that bit of business taken care of, the vegetables and noodles are introduced to the grill. The way these chefs handle their knives and forks make the hucksters on TV selling Veg-a-Matics look like idiots (not that they needed any help in this area). The chefs at Teppan Edo can slice and dice like nobody's business. They have this technique down to an art form.
But the best part is the building of the onion volcano. Here, the chef skillfully separates ring after ring of onion and layers them one on top another, creating Mount Fuji. Then oil and water are poured into the center to create a smoking volcano.
Next, the meats are introduced to the grill. Once again, we see the magic of these talented individuals as they toss pepper grinders, fling bits of meat into the air, and continue to slice and dice -- all the while keeping us entertained with a steady stream of chatter.
The vegetables will be ready first and the chef will use a spatula and dish a portion onto your plate. It always amazes me how they can accurately divide the large amount of steaming food into equal portions for each guest. Since your meat is still cooking, don't hesitate to start eating or else your vegetables will get cold.
Once the meat course has been served, the chef will clean the grill, say goodbye, and leave. Shortly thereafter, your server will offer dessert. These include Soft Serve Ice Cream, Green Tea Pudding, and Chocolate Ginger Cake. Although obvious on the menu, I want to make sure I haven't given you the wrong impression, appetizers and desserts are an extra charge.
I want to remind all of you with special dietary needs to bring this fact to your server's attention. At my table, one gentleman had a severe allergy to shellfish. Our waitress relayed this information to the kitchen staff and the restaurant manager came out to our table to discuss his concerns. In this case, his meal was cooked in the kitchen to make absolutely certain that no shellfish contamination could take place on the show-grill. ALL Disney restaurants, including counter service establishments, will work with you to make sure you and your family's needs are met.
Would I recommend Teppan Edo? Absolutely! I think this restaurant is a lot of fun and should be on everyone's Epcot "must do" list. However, I think Teppan Edo needs to be experienced in moderation. Personally, I only need to visit every three to four years. Any more than that and the experience becomes old hat. I need time to forget all the little nuances that took place so it will be fresh on my next visit.
Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE. The restaurant opens at noon and remains open during the remainder of the day.
I have prepared a four minute video highlighting the experience. Enjoy.