I love Orlando because I can always reminisce about my travels at a restaurant, theme park adventure or festival. If you are missing Japan or just want to experience a little local flavor, please take a moment to stop by some of these places for a taste of Japan.
1. Epcot. Walt Disney World’s Epcot Theme park has the World Showcase where you can experience Japan first hand. There are 11 different countries to visit and if you only have a day, Japan is a great place to visit and dine. There are several different options for Japanese digning at Epcot: Tokyo Pairing ($60+ per entrée), Tokyo Dining ($15-35 per entrée), Teppan Edo ($15-35 per entrée), Katsura Grill (under $14 per entrée), Kabuki Café for desserts (under $14 per entrée), and the Hibachi Experience (over $60 per entrée). All of these places are wonderful, but please try to make a reservation using the Walt Disney World app or calling +1 (407) 939-5277. At any of these restaurants you should be able to hear the sounds of the live bands beat the drums and dance to the traditional Japanese music. You can also view a performance During Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, booths fill the walkways with local foods to purchase (tapas sizes). They always have a nice frozen green tea or sticky bun that is delicious.
2. Disney Springs. Disney Springs has two opportunities to experience Japanese fashion and dining:
a. Uniqlo is a Japanese department store with everything. Bill loves the AIRism “innerware” (underwear), but they have classic styled dresses and clothing. The Disney Springs Uniqlo has everything from kimonos to Disney clothing. It’s often open late (11pm or later) so it is a great place to visit after the parks or dinner.
b. Morimoto Asia. If you are in the mood for some Peking Duck, then look no further than Morimoto Asia ($15-35 per entrée). Curated by Celebrity Iron Chef Morimoto, this Pan-Asian restaurant has beautiful décor including a jeweled jellyfish shaped chandeliers, two floors for dining, a bar and sushi counter. While the Peking Duck was delicious, keep room for the fried rice and dessert. They had a Japanese soda during magical dining month that was delicious.
c. Yesake. This food cart offers hand rolls and sake slush drinks. We haven’t tried it but for under $14.99 per entrée per person it is worth checking out if you are pressed for time or have a limited budget.
3. Whole Foods in Dr. Phillips. Can you believe that I found some Mochi (a Japanese dessert) at Whole Foods? It is a little more expensive than the Mochi I found at 7-Eleven in Japan, but the experience of having this authentic ice cream dessert is awesome. (1 mochi costs $2 and 12 are $24).
4. Other great eateries: Kobe Ichiban Steakhouse is named after the Japanese city. It is a hibachi style grill similar to the one that we experienced at the New Otani Garden Restaurant in Japan. The steaks are good. We also like Seito Sushi and Bento Cafe. Both are good restaurants for decent Japanese food. The freshness of the fish can’t compare to Japan, but it is still good. My favorite Seito Sushi is in an Orlando Community called Baldwin Park, but the both Seito Sushi and Bento’s have locations in Dr. Phillips near Restaurant Row. Finally, there is one local eatery off the tourist path for more authentic Japanese cuisine. Sapporo Ramen has just what you think, good ramen and also good curry. It’s on the west side of town and in the inner city, but if you want to venture off the beaten path for good Japanese food, this is the place to visit.