It was just last summer when the new signature restaurant, Takumi-Tei, first opened its doors within the Japan Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase. With a presentation that far exceeds that of the usual mealtime venture, Takumi-Tei is an overall upscale dining experience grounded in culture, sophistication, and of course culinary mastery. And being a guest here is an elite epicurean excursion like no other you’ll find at Epcot. While we could literally list a boundless array of reasons for why we’re simply nuts about Takumi-Tei, here are just some.
5. The meaning behind the name
The name Takumi-Tei translates to “house of the artisan” in Japanese. This is most fitting as the restaurant showcases craftsmanship and artisanship in both décor as well as its stunning food presentation. In fact, with the latter you get plated perfection dished up to you in the form of fine works of art in their own right. But all one needs to do is look around to see just how befitting the name Takumi-Tei truly is to all that it displays.
4. Specialized service
Upon entry to Takumi-Tei you will be met with a sense of individualized attention in catering to your specific needs. This is partially due to the lack of waiting area space, which significantly reduces the opportunity for overcrowding and allows for a more personalized approach to those guests who do come to experience dining here. From there, the personalized service is further enhanced when you and your party are called to be seated, meeting with a friendly and knowledgeable host or hostess, who will then take you on your way through a long hallway adorned by globes representing the five elements: earth, water, stone, wood, and paper. Your host/hostess will stop along the way to explain these elements to you as well a their significance in Japanese culture. From entering to seating, and of course partaking in a delightfully delicious meal, you’ll get an awareness that your overall mealtime experience has been custom crafted to suit you and your party specifically. And that’s because it is! Hosts, servers, and all the cast members here are more than just restaurant staff—they are all cultural ambassadors eager to share their cultural insight with you about Japanese food, customs, or even any of the dishes on the menu you may have questions about. Their warm and welcoming demeanor encourages engagement, putting your mind at ease about any questions you have.
3. Elemental Zen and décor
Despite being one of the most expensive signature dining locations ever at a Walt Disney World Theme Park, the entry into Takumi-Tei is subtle and modest. Perched in an unassuming location at the base of the first floor of the famed Mitsukoshi department store, it’s fairly easy to overlook upon first glance. Sure there’s a quaint little Zen garden right outside, but all the fanfare you’d expect from such an upscale dining experience is noticeably missing. Perhaps this was an intentional prelude when designing the restaurant—a way to surprise unassuming guests upon entering into an unexpected and breathtaking transcendence into the island nation. The previously mentioned elemental presentation, so important to Japanese culture, is one of the first things you will see on your way to be seated. And it’s also a crucial implementation into the overall motif of the restaurant’s décor and design all around. Like the five elements there are five distinct dining rooms to be seated in, each one themed after one of the specific elements. The Wood Room, for instance, is comprised of a broad range of ornate wooden carvings, finishes, craftsmanship, and artwork in its overall design pattern. The décor of the Stone Room lends itself to a focus to one unusual displayed piece of stone artwork in particular, with other nods to the star element less profuse but still creatively patterned in rocky forms and sand designs. Warm red tones of the cherry blossom are primary in the Washi Paper Room, which displays the beauty and art behind the versatile star element on the scene here. The Earth Room is one of the best displays of the beauty of nature while working in conjunction with artistry and craftsmanship. It is presented in primarily darker tones and features more abstract, stratified design ornamentation, made to resemble the different layers of earth and soil. The Water Room, sometimes referred to as the River Room by some guests, incorporates the aforementioned element through very creative concepts, even going as far as to include an indoor waterfall! But we will cover more of the Water Room and the experience it presents later on.
While each dining room maintains its own elemental design keeping with a specific identity, all share in the same commonality of upscale quality in craftsmanship and artistry. Furthermore, each and every dining experience incorporates the same cheerful presentation, including a creatively displayed place setting of a napkin designed to resemble a traditional Japanese kimono that’s been folded with chopsticks resting on a stone.
2. Menu enticements
While the design and décor patterns are definitely vital to the overall essence here, we can’t overlook the most distinguishable attribute at Takumi-Tei—the food. Featuring traditional Japanese favorites both renowned and exotic, you can experience robust and bold flavors that are beyond your typical Japanese restaurant dining experience on all levels. First let’s talk about the menus. You will have your choice of whether to order items a la carte or via the Omakase tasting menu. Omakase, which translates to “I’ll leave it up to you,” features a seven-course prix-fixe setup of chef’s picks all highlighting a lush sampling of Japanese cuisine selections at their finest. While what’s offered may be subject to changes based on the chef’s personal picks, the seven-course tasting menu setup follows the same format in presentation: Two appetizers, three entrée courses, dessert, and a traditional Japanese tea ceremony featuring matcha green tea. Whether you decide to go with the tasting menu or order a la carte, you should plan for an experience to last at least a couple hours. You’re going to want to indulge in and savor the experience for as long as you can! A drink-pairing menu is offered at an additional cost and includes an array of delightful suggestions from Japanese specialty cocktails and beers to popular sake and even unique wines like Japanese Plum Wine—a favorite to many. Non-alcoholic specialty cocktails are also provided.
1. The Chef’s Table
As we mentioned earlier, there are five dining rooms at Takumi-Tei with each one reflecting on one of the five different elements. Of those five, only four are really public domain as the Water Room is a more exclusive undertaking for personally reserved experiences, like the Chef’s Table. Designed for just six to eight people at a time, the Chef’s Table is an esoteric dining experience like no other, designated to last around three hours and featuring a special nine-course Kaiseki menu—different from the previously highlighted Omaskase tasting menu. While the delectable flavors and tastes of sizzling and savory Japanese food works come together beautifully, your senses will be even more elevated as you take in the breathtaking yet calmingly serene setting that flows throughout the Water Room. From artwork and craftsmanship to the indoor waterfall we spoke of earlier, and even a table setting that keeps the flow of things with a runner that appears to be a running river, the Chef’s Table has it all to make the experience an all-immersive and transcending engagement for you and your party to enjoy. The Chef’s Table starts at around $180 a person, not including tax. An additional six-course beverage pairing is also available at an additional cost of $100 per guest. Reservations are required for this experience and can be made by calling 407-827-8504 or through emailing [email protected].
As with most dining options at Walt Disney World, we strongly suggest making reservations for any experience you wish to pursue in order to ensure availability, timeliness, and the most optimal experience. Do note, however, that Takumi-Tei does not participate in Disney Dining. As Disney looks to begin its phased reopening this July Takumi-Tei will not be immediately reopening to the public nor will some of the experiences we mentioned, such as the Chef’s Table. But do take note that Takumi-Tei is waiting to warmly welcome back visitors with the congenial and friendly nature they are so known for.