first Tokyo Dining Sake & Food Pairing – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

This Epcot Food & Wine Festival experience took place on Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yes! Two “food & wine lunches” in one day… there was a brief nap at American Adventure between lunches 🙂 As this was part of Nevie’s visit, my report will be brief and mainly pictorial. A full dtailed review will be posted tomorrow.

As in previous years, Garin (Food & Beverage Manager at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot) was our host. This is the first event during the 2014 Festival. Today, we are going to be touring Western Japan (Misaka and the south) – their culture is distinct from Eastern Japan (Tokyo and the north) and Okinawa.

Apertif – Peach Flavor Sparkling Sake: Hana Fuga

  • Nick thought this was very good
  • Nora thought it was yummy but more along the lines of dessert
  • Nevie thought it was overly sweet and it left a strange aftertaste

First Pairing – Osaka Style Sushi with Hiko’s Kira Kira “Gold Flake” Junmai Sake

  • Sake was not too dry and not too sweet with flavors of banana and melon
  • Futomaki was a bit dry without any soy (soy isn’t used as heavily in Western Japanese cultures)
  • Hako Sushi was well liked at our table, flavor wise and texture wise
  • Inari is a hard texture for Nick, it’s a bit squishy and slightly sweet; it’s definitely not a favorite of mine
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Osaka Style Sushi

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Futomaki – large roll with seven types of seafood and vegetable

Nevie’s comment: “I know the name is big roll but this was way too big to eat in one bite. It ended up being a lot of rice and not a lot of flavor. The seafood flavor that did come through was good.”

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Salmon Hako Sushi – Osaka box style sushi with salmon, avocado and cream cheese

Nevie’s comment: This was my favorite part of the first course. It had a little bit of heat to it and was very good.

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Inari Sushi – green tea soba noodles, egg omelet, shrimp and snow pea wrapped in seasoned bean curd (inari)

Nevie’s comment: I did not like the bean curd wrap at all. It looks like it should have been crispy but was soggy and did not have much flavor to it. The green tea soba was delicious and the snow peas were good as well.

Second Pairing – Kansai Style Deep-Fry Dish with Karatanba “Dry Wave” Honjozo Sake

  • We all liked the Honjozo sake, it was a little spicy and definitely less sweet than the first two
    • Nevie’s comment: The Karatanba was very good and had great flavor. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear a lot about the sakes because the people at the table behind us were talking nonstop. I understand that  alcohol is added back into this sake after brewing.
  • Kushi-Katsu Assorted – Pork Kakuni, Scallop, Quail Egg, Grape Tomato, and Caciocavallo Cheese with Kushikatsu Sauce and Maentaiko Sauce
  • Nick liked the scallop best and I liked the pork belly best – overall, this dish wasn’t a hit with our group… the items were not clearly distinguishable by taste (perhaps it will be better on our next sake pairing?) – and the cheese was downright odd at a Japanese meal (in our minds)
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Kansai Style Deep-Fry Dish

Nevie’s comment: The quail egg was overdone and was very dry overall. The only thing that was moist was the tomato and everything except the scallop had the exact same flavor profile. This course left a lot to be desired unfortunately.

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Chicken Teba (Wing) Tsukune – with Kobe Miso Sauce

Nevie’s  comment: This deboned and stuffed chicken wing had good flavor but all the fried ingredients on the plate kind of made this item get lost; everything had the same texture and taste.

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Caciocavallo Cheese (bottom), Pork Kakuni (left)

Third Pairing – Grilled Kyushu Specialties with Japanese Spices with Dassai 50 “Otter Festival” Junmai Daiginjyo Sake

  • Nevie & Nick thought this sake was very fruity and floral, I liked it “okay”
    • Nevie’s comment: The sake was my second favorite. It still had a bit of a bad aftertaste, but overall great with the food.
  • Kagoshima Satsumaage Aburi (tofu paste) with Shiso Leaf, four kinds of Cheese with Yuzu-Kosho – none of us were fond of this, Nick found the texture challenging, Nevie ate it but didn’t like it, I ate one piece and thought it was very weird and rubbery
    • Nevie’s comment: This was not good at all. I only took a small bite and it had such an off putting texture and taste I just couldn’t finish it.
  • Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin Steak with Chopped Wasabi Stem – first time any of us had eaten true wagyu beef, exceptionally tender; the chopped wasabi stem was very spicy
    • Nevie’s comment: This was my favorite part of the meal. The steak was so tender and flavorful and the wasabi sauce was fantastic. It was really cool that they brought out an uncooked sample for us to see. The marbling was like a spider web.
  • Kurobuta Sausage with Chopped pickled takana and Japanese mustard slaw – we all liked the sausage more than the steak or the tofu
    • Nevie’s comment: This portion also had a lot of flavor and was very delicious. It was my second favorite part of the whole meal.
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Kagoshima Satsumaage Aburi, Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin Steak, Kurobuta Sausage

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Raw Wagyu – from Japan, same as we were served, loads of marbling for richness and flavor

Dessert – mango sake frozen cocktail

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This was tasty, but not as impressive flavor-wise as some of the ones from past years

Nevie’s comment: I was so full by the end of the second lunch I couldn’t really enjoy this as much as I would have. It was a bit on the sweet side for me.

Even though we weren’t as thrilled with the food offerings as we have been in past years, this remains a really great value. The staff are excellent and the sakes are refilled as you wish.

Our only complaint this year – while the sound barriers are working rather well at masking the lobby noise while the luncheon takes place – the table nearest us were not interested in learning anything about the food or the sake. They talked and talked and talked of topics not related to what was going on and they didn’t use inside-voices. I wish there was a polite or acceptable way to tell adults that they’re being loud bores.


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