2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – Sake & Food Pairing at Tokyo Dining

Let’s start out with some photos…

before the event began, Nick was able to get some photos of the layout and the table settings

before the event began, Nick was able to get some photos of the layout and the table settings – sushi chefs (all female) preparing sushi (for the dining room, not for the event)

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there were six-top tables and four-top tables, we sat at a four-top with one other guest who was a long-time Cast Member at WDW currently in the PhotoPass department

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another view of the lovely sushi chefs (we weren’t served a sushi dish this year, we did get chirashi and scallops in a sashimi sort of dish)

... while Nick was inside the dining area taking photos and talking to Garin, I was surprised to notice sound barriers in place - hopefully, they'll muffle the sounds (cacophony) from the waiting area

… while Nick was inside the dining area taking photos and talking to Garin, I was surprised to notice sound barriers in place – hopefully, they’ll muffle the sounds (cacophony) from the waiting area

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our table, the place setting was a bit different this year, instead of multiple sake glasses, we have one stemmed glass and a water glass on the table

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each place setting had an origami crane (these have become symbols of good luck)

menus at each place setting

menus at each place setting – very nice that we are given the menu in English and in Japanese (even though we don’t read Japanese)

Tasting notes sheet for the sakes were at each place setting

Tasting notes sheet for the sakes were at each place setting

beautiful menu - as always

beautiful menu – as always

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nearly everyone is seated

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Garin introduces our hostesses and our servers (Naoko was our personal server)

We really enjoy this event, we attended in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and are happy that we went again this year. Each year there are changes to the theming or intent of the meal. This year we were served Kaiseki style (here) meaning that there were several (15-20 courses traditionally, but we didn’t have that many!) very small portions that make up the meal, Garin said that these meals usually cost 20,000 to 30,000 yen.

we began the meal with frozen beer Ichiban Shibori (we had this last year)...

we began the meal with frozen beer Ichiban Shibori (we had this last year)…

... and edamamae... very traditional way to begin a night out (start with beer)

… and edamamae… very traditional way to begin a night out (start with beer)

"glamor shot" ... I'm not kidding anyone :) ... these were nice together and are supposedly a traditional combination, I typically like my edamame warmer and saltier

“glamor shot” … I’m not kidding anyone 🙂 … these were nice together and are supposedly a traditional combination, I typically like my edamame warmer and saltier

Our first course is a “seafood lover’s dream”…

Seafood Lover's Dream... lots of tastes

Seafood Lover’s Dream… lots of tastes

our first sake... Ko's Hana Sake "Flower" served in a "horse riding glass" (apparently nobles wanted to be able to drink their sake while on horseback)

our first sake… Ko’s Hana Sake “Flower” served in a “horse riding glass” (apparently nobles wanted to be able to drink their sake while on horseback)

this is a Tokubetsu Junmai, SMV -5, ABV 15%, Kura Takeuchi Shuzo... sweet, delicate, very good, fruity, quite pure and unadulterated

this is a Tokubetsu Junmai, SMV -5, ABV 15%, Kura Takeuchi Shuzo… sweet, delicate, very good, fruity, quite pure and unadulterated

the larger plate contained (start at top and go around clockwise)... scallops with yuzu, eel and minced fish roll, rare tempura tuna

the larger plate contained (start at top and go around clockwise)… scallops with yuzu, eel and minced fish roll, rare tempura tuna

the rare tuna was good, firm and meaty, quite nice

the rare tuna was good, firm and meaty, quite nice but nothing outstanding or very different for us

eel and minced fish roll, not much to look at but very tasty, I really liked the texture and richness of the eel

eel and minced fish roll, not much to look at but very tasty, I really liked the texture and richness of the eel

scallops and yuzu... exquisite, very good flavor combination - fruity, citrusy, yet creamy and rich from the scallops

scallops and yuzu… exquisite, very good flavor combination – fruity, citrusy, yet creamy and rich from the scallops

crab and salmon in an orange bowl

crab and salmon in an orange bowl

I thought it was just okay (we eat quite a bit of salmon salad and this seemed very tame)

I thought it was just okay (we eat quite a bit of salmon salad and this seemed very tame)

Nick liked this but didn't like the pairing with the sake

Nick liked this but didn’t like the pairing with the sake

empty orange cup

empty orange cup

The second pairing included a dassai sake served warm, blended with hibicus and mint tea, and poached duck breast…

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second sake – Dassai 50 “Otter Festival” Junmai Daiginjyo, SMV +3, ABV 15%, Kura Asahi-Shuzo

this sake was intriguing because it was so different, I liked it a bit because it was slightly reminiscent of hisui (red yeast sake)

this sake was intriguing because it was so different, I liked it a bit because it was slightly reminiscent of hisui (red yeast sake)

poached duck breast

poached duck breast served with snow peas, almonds, potato crisps, and starch of dogtooth violet

beautiful presentation

beautiful presentation

I really enjoyed this course, the duck breast "rocked"

I really enjoyed this course, the duck breast “rocked”

Nick was impressed with two things - how lean it was and how tasty the little rim of fat was (very similar to a southern cured pork in saltiness and taste)

Nick was impressed with two things – how lean it was and how tasty the little rim of fat was (very similar to a southern cured pork in saltiness and taste)

the sake paired nicely with the duck, nothing OMG SPECTACULAR, but it wasn’t a fail

the little owls are back from 2011, hopefully they don't contain chilled lobster consume

the little owls are back from 2011, hopefully they don’t contain chilled lobster consume

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dogtooth violet starch… I don’t have any notes on this, color us unimpressed… one day, those little owls are going to contain something we like a lot 🙂

Third pairing… waygu beef and Nuratotai sake (from a can! the can preserves the freshness, it looks like an oil can from our childhoods)

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each sake was served in a different vessel, and contrary to previous years, they weren’t all on the table waiting when we were seated

Narutotai "Naruto's Sea Bream" Ginjo Nama Genshu, SMV +5, ABV 19%, Kura Yamanaka Shuzo

Narutotai “Naruto’s Sea Bream” Ginjo Nama Genshu, SMV +5, ABV 19%, Kura Yamanaka Shuzo… rich and creamy flavors

This is considered to be a celebration sake (fish are synonymous with celebrations in Japanese culture). Nick noted more alcohol on the tongue without food – there was a lot of flavor picked up by the sides of our tongues, we decided this was too bright without food. It mellowed nicely as it warms and it was paired with a food that had LOTS of umami and that balanced nicely.

our third course presentation

our third course presentation

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waygu beef (small, thin steak and ground beef) plus deconstructed stuffed green pepper

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red lotus root underneath the beef, the starch component

the beef "steak" was quite tasty, we even liked the stuffed green pepper (although it didn't like us very much)

the beef “steak” was quite tasty, we even liked the stuffed green pepper (although it didn’t like us very much)

the real standout was the ground beef with miso, could have eaten a lot of this

the real standout was the ground beef, could have eaten a lot of this, the bottom of the bowl contains a small cooked slice of turnip (pretty much bland)

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the other bowl contained a noodle soup with fish cake

you can barely see the color of the noodles... they're pink

you can barely see the color of the noodles… they’re pink

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the pink noodles… I thought there was gari (pickled ginger) in them

the final touch, a dessert cocktail of sake and yuzu

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very light and refreshing, almost cleansing (but it didn’t taste like cleaner!)

 At the end, Garin and Chef Shuichi Tanida came around and we were able to ask a couple of questions…

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Garin introducing Chef Shuichi Tanida

Garin came over, he remembered us from last year

Garin came over, he remembered us from last year

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Chef was very willing to answer questions… the duck wasn’t brined (our guess), it was salted and allowed to rest overnight… the ground beef was so tasty because of MISO… and the noodles were pink because of Japanese Plum

Lovely afternoon as always… Thank you Garin and the entire team!

Final Things…

  • According to Garin, sake consumption in Japan has decreased as it has increased throughout the world, however, the consumption of other alcoholic products has increased in Japan as they’ve become more accessible (think SCOTCH)
  • October 1 is Sake Day… so next October 1, get out there and drink more sake!

Would we do this again? yes

Details

  • Date: October 10, 2013 – 3:30-5:00, didn’t feel rushed, but it didn’t feel as relaxed as it did last year
  • Cost: $55 per person, rather decent for the price (although I must mention that it seems like there was less food than in previous years)

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