Walt Disney World has announced a new restaurant coming to EPCOT in 2023. This post covers everything we know about the restaurant, with pictures of the food, when to try it, and our comments about these additions to the culinary World Showcase.
Initially, the new restaurant will be located in the Japan Pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase, and will be called Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya. This table service restaurant will give you an Izakaya-style dining experience to create memories and good times through food.
At Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya, you will be able to experience the seasonal festivals of Japan, where every month brings a new celebration to your table. From hanging this one from celebrating Tanabata in July to enjoying moon-gazing dumplings in September, a cultural representative from Japan will guide you through each special occasion, one bite at a time.
The atmosphere at Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya will host Japanese festivals, with an atmosphere filled with beautiful artwork, hand-painted and lanterns that reflect the natural wonders of Japan. Each tour is designed to create unforgettable memories that capture the spirit of Japan’s seasonal festivals.
In addition to a full menu full of Japanese cuisine, Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya will feature an open sushi bar and grill. Located on the second floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store’s Japan pavilion, Shiki-Sai offers stunning views of EPCOT, the World Showcase Lagoon, and the fireworks.
Sushi lovers enjoy the first glimpse of sushi being made in front of them by the chefs sitting at the bar. This unique place offers special food along with a trellis inspired by the ceiling of Phoenix Hall at Byodoin Temple in Uji, Japan.
If you fancy yourself as a sushi aficionado or want to expand your palate for a new bite, the menu at Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya is endless with dishes to try. Highlights of the sushi bar include Kobore Sushi, Tokyo Negi Roll, Funamori, and The Monster Roll.
Kobore Sushi translates to “flooded sushi” and this item features negi toro and nakaochi tuna paired beautifully with salmon roe and green onions. The Tokyo Negi Roll combines green onion tempura wrapped with tuna tataki and topped with jalapeño aïoli, shredded carrot, and sliced jalapeno in a delicious roll.
Funamori features sashimi and sushi prepared on a boat-shaped plate. This iteration of Funamori is also presented with the excitement and boat trip of the famous Tenjin Matsuri.
You will also be able to try dishes from the delicious world of Japanese Izakaya, a type of traditional Japanese restaurant. One of the most popular aspects of Izakaya culture is the emphasis on sharing dishes while enjoying drinks and socializing with friends.
The menu at an Izakaya usually consists of a variety of small dishes, and Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya at EPCOT is no different. From the delicious Karaage Chicken to the delicious Salmon Misoyaki, and even the refreshing Tomato Salad with Avocado, Izakaya cuisine is all about offering a variety of delicious small plates that can be eaten casually and comfortably.
Not only do you get dishes from the sushi bar, but this grill will also have delicious dishes found in Japanese cuisine. Among the grilled items at Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya, okonomiyaki is a must. The delicious Japanese pancake is made with flour, eggs, and water, then filled with cabbage and bacon, and topped with tangy okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, aonori, bonito flakes, and pickled ginger.
Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya is scheduled to open at EPCOT in the summer of 2023. Walt Disney World has not announced an exact date, or if/when Advance Dining Reservations will open. Currently, the schedule shows “no time” until mid-July 2023 for Tokyo Dining, but that doesn’t mean anything. We will update this accordingly as more information becomes available.
Although not mentioned in the official announcement, Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya will be part of Tokyo Dining or replace Tokyo Dining. The restaurant has been closed since last November for renovations and management, and it seems that Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya is the fruit of this project.
Our original intention was for Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya to occupy a part of Tokyo Dining, as it is already divided into an open space and table dining on one side. However, the idea that Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya will offer a pool and fireworks seems different, since you can’t see anything from the rest area – which is in the middle of the building, between the seats of Tokyo Dining on. side of the window, and Teppan Edo on the other side (separated by a wall).
We’re totally fine with Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya instead of Tokyo Dining entirely. We ate at Tokyo Dining last fall a few weeks before it closed, and it was the worst meal we had at Walt Disney World last year. (And I say that as someone who has been reviewing the choices I hate in the Magic Kingdom, eating more hot dogs, burgers, and buns than anyone should eat in a lifetime!)
It’s not that we’re being cynical about Japanese food, either. We are big fans of Katsura Grill, and like Teppan Edo for its content. But it’s been a while since we’ve had anything that impressed Tokyo Dining. The restaurant itself was not memorable, especially if you were sitting away from the window and stuck in the middle of a large and boring room.
Until then, it will be interesting to see how the interior of the restaurant has changed. There wasn’t anything wrong with Tokyo Dining’s look in the past—it had a real but basic ‘modern’ look similar to what you’d see in high-end shops. It wasn’t good or bad…or memorable.
A stylish version of Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya would be welcome. Imagineering did a great job with Takumi-Tei (below), and this looks promising. The inspiration from Byodoin Temple (above) is in full swing, and suggests that Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya will use styles that evoke Japanese culture. (Celebrations mentioned in the press also confirm this.)
We also like the idea of a restaurant with a menu that promises to change with the seasons. All over Japan, especially in Kyoto, the weather is great. Many restaurants serve omakase dishes featuring seasonal vegetables and fish sourced from vendors around Nishiki Market.
The presentation is also very important, from the types of ingredients and decorations to the dishes. We have eaten at restaurants in Kyoto that change the menu-and plating– on a weekly or daily basis. We do not expect the details of Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya, but celebrating festivals and following seasonal events can be a great success. (Although it started out promising, I don’t think Takumi-Tei does this anymore.)
As for the menu at Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya, impress us.
It should go without saying, but the sushi counter will probably be expensive. All because it is the way of new things in Walt Disney World, and given pictures and descriptions. However, izakaya food should be affordable and accessible, as this is bar food. They often serve delicious home-cooked meals and comfort foods.
Personally, I enjoy Karaage Chicken more than sushi.
There are few foods I love more in Japan than chicken. I always order karaage from ramen and izakaya shops, and store-bought fried chicken has become a staple for breakfast at 7-11 or Family Mart. (No kidding. Famichiki and Seven Chicken are both top notch; if the options at Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya are half as good as the stores, Walt Disney World guests are in luck!)
We are also excited that okonomiyaki is coming to EPCOT. We eat okonomiyaki often because it’s cheap, fun to watch it being prepared in front of you, it’s so popular, and it’s so customizable. On our last trip to Japan, we ate at an okonomiyaki restaurant and only paid about $5 for each entree. Of course, we had to cook it ourselves (comedy of errors) and the exchange rate is very good right now, however. The point is that it is very cheap food.
We’ve been asking EPCOT to do okonomiyaki (and ramen) age. In a post a few years ago, we wrote this: We did love Teppan Edo to create an okonomiyaki lunch menu; It’s accessible, fun, and Walt Disney World can charge without most visitors realizing it. (We would gladly pay for the okonomiyaki’s actions!)
Now it looks like we’re going to be getting a chance to eat and pay for the okonomiyaki service at Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya!
Finally, we’re excited for Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya to open at EPCOT in Summer 2023…as you can tell. Dining in Tokyo was long overdue for a refresh to both interior and exterior, and hopefully this will give the restaurant a shot in the arm. The concept of a sushi counter with an izakaya is a good one, especially if Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya is following through on its seasonal promise. If all goes well, Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya could transform the middle-of-the-road World Showcase restaurant into something of value—an unforgettable culinary and cultural experience.
Our only concern is the prices. Obviously, there will be a lot of Walt Disney World needs; much is not said. It’s also possible for a sushi bar to have more expensive options that focus on marketing; it is also seen as a given. However, our hope is that this restaurant will stay true to the concept of izakaya and offer affordable and shareable meals, much cheaper at Spice Road Table than Takumi-Tei. Our fear is that this could be too skewed towards the latter, targeting the higher end audience across the board. Here’s hoping Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya lives up to its promise and potential without breaking the bank. We can’t wait!
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What do you think of the idea of a new Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya coming to EPCOT? Do you think this could be a replacement or addition to Tokyo Dining? Have you eaten out at any time in the past few years? What did you think of your meal? Have you enjoyed the sushi counter and rental price at the Japan pavilion? Agree or disagree with each of our reviews? Any questions we can help answer? Hearing your comments—even if you don’t agree with us—is fun for us and helpful for other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!