Katsura Grill is a counter-service restaurant Epcot’s World Showcase. The restaurant resides in the Japan Pavilion and serves a variety of Japanese cuisine including Teriyaki, Sushi and Udon. Located just above the beautiful Japanese gardens, Katsura Grill has seating available both indoors and outdoors. The restaurant takes part in the Disney Dining Plan as a counter-service credit but doesn’t accept any other discounts at this time. We have dined at Katsura Grill several times and this review will cover our thoughts on the restaurant and overall value offered.
World Showcase’s Japan Pavilion is one of my favorite places in all of Walt Disney World. The Mitsukoshi Department Store embodies some of the hustle & bustle of Tokyo, the gallery showcases some of Japan’s culture and history, and the Japanese gardens feature some of the precision and beauty seen across the entire country. The latter is what drew me to Japan in the first place and what makes the Japan Pavilion a place that I keep coming back to. Katsura Grill is named after a place in Kyoto and it certainly gives the feeling of that incredible city.
Saying that a restaurant’s best trait is the atmosphere can often times be an insult. There are very few restaurants that offer a setting so great that you want to go there regardless of the food, even at Walt Disney World. The outdoor seating area at Katsura Grill offers just that, making the atmosphere well worth eating there or simply worth relaxing at. There are tables just outside of the restaurant that overlook the entire gardens from above. A water feature and paper lanterns are right next to the tables. Further down the path, into the gardens, are more tables although they don’t have the view that the tables up above have.
Inside Katsura Grill is more of a typical counter-service setting with quite a few tables and nothing particularly distinct. As long as it’s not pouring rain, we recommend sitting outside. There should be tables in the shade so it won’t be absurdly hot unless you are visiting in the middle of summer. If you do end up sitting inside, try to get a table by the windows for a better view of the Japan Pavilion and World Showcase as a whole.
As for the food at Katsura Grill, the restaurant offers a solid assortment of options. The menu is broken down into three parts – Teriyaki, Noodles, and Sushi. There are a few other options on the menu but those are the main ones. We’ve tried the Teriyaki Chicken and Beef before and enjoyed it, although it wasn’t much better than our local Teriyaki options. For what it’s worth, Melissa and I both enjoyed the chicken more than the beef. With all of the Teriyaki options in the $10-$14 range, this is a decent value.
The Sushi is a bit of letdown at Katsura Grill as it’s all prepackaged. That’s not to say it’s bad, this is better than gas station/grocery store sushi. It’s also better than some options I’ve tried at cheap conveyor belt sushi places. That’s where my compliments end as the flavor is fairly muted and everything about it is average. If you really want some sushi and are looking for something on the cheaper side than ordering it here is a fine option, otherwise go with something else.
I saved the best for last with the Udon. We ordered the Beef Udon and really enjoyed every aspect of it. The noodles were thick and served well, soaking up the flavor from the broth. The beef was the cut as was served in the teriyaki (minus the sauce here) and I think it actually played a little better mixed in with Udon. I thought the broth was good, offering a decent amount of flavor. While I’ve certainly had better broth, serving Beef Udon in a theme park is ambitious and this dish lives up to the challenge. I’d happily order it again and would recommend it over everything else we’ve tried.
Overall, the food is solid but not spectacular. Everything we have tried has been decent to really good. Where Katsura Grill misses out is by not having a true standout dish like a few other counter-service options. The Udon is good but is also a hot dish that you might not want to eat in the summer. Everything on the menu is in the $10-$15 range, making it fall in line with most counter-service values.
Mixing in pretty good food with excellent atmosphere is where Katsura Grill starts to see its stock rise. While the food won’t blow you away, the setting is fantastic especially after a hectic day in the parks. That’s ultimately why we think highly of Katsura Grill and would recommend it to those that are curious about Japanese food. No, this isn’t the greatest introduction and you can certainly find better elsewhere but the atmosphere reminds us of Japan more than the food. That makes Katsura Grill a winner.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews