Review: Epcot Japan Pavilion Adds Rising Sun Sake Bomb and Alcoholic Kakigori Snow Cones

We move on to the Japan Pavilion to try some new beverages and snack items.

Japan is a ride addition away from being my favorite World Showcase Pavilion and may well still be yours without one. Great and varied landscaping, architecture, dining, shopping, and culture.

But realistically, we are at Epcot to drink and make fun of the entertainment in Canada, and the Garden House sake bar across from Mitsukoshi has a few new drink options.

Everything under Cocktails is new with the exception of the Tokyo Sunset.

Typically, if you are looking for sake, I recommend heading inside the Mitsukoshi Department Store, where you’ll find a counter specializing in a wider selection of largely less expensive options. Service could not be friendlier. It is just a counter in the far corner of the room where they sell packaged food though, so if you are in a hurry or already blind from plastic contamination from a Mexico margarita then the outdoor option might be more convenient.

If you are looking for the best beer in Japan then you also want to head inside, where you’ll find a bottle of Ginga Kogen Weizen for $10. While it’s a couple more dollars than the Kirin, it’s a much tastier, far rarer beer that is a significantly better value. There’s only one Total Wine in the country that stocks it and it’s $7 a bottle available in limited quantities.

With the exception of the the Rising Sun, each cocktail is premixed, which I don’t have a problem with at the $8 price point.

A cocktail consisting of coconut rum, liqueur, and juice is not my jam, but it’s available here as the Tokyo Sunset for $8.50. Look no further if you’re after the sweetest concoction – it just seems a little too thick with the pineapple juice and schnapps for my tastes. But plenty of people enjoy them and the umbrella will help protect you from the afternoon showers.

If I was going to be honest with you, which I virtually never am, I would tell you that I have never ordered a sake bomb before. It “feels” tacky and I am desperate to keep up appearances. But you know these poor Japanese cast members get asked about them 1,000 times a day from Florida Gators fans alone. They had not been available until last month, though plenty of people would order a Kirin and a sake and do a little construction work themselves.

And this is really more of a sake spill than a sake bomb, but the cup is pretty darling. The cast member will fill another cup partially with Kirin then gently pour about three ounces of it around the exterior of the glass. Then about an ounce of the sweet red sake is poured in the middle.

It was tastier than I was expecting, largely due to the sweetness of the sake that they’re using rather than the rubbing alcohol that is usually placed on top of the cup on top of two chopsticks. It’s a relatively small portion and with two people, you might prefer to order a draft and the cheapest sake along with an extra cup. I am not sure if they would hand you the sake spill cup, but you could certainly ask. If not, just get a second cup and pour half the beer in the other. But for $8 it was a relatively novel drink that was kind of fun and comes recommended if you’re in the market.

The drink next door is the $8.50 Cucumber Cooler – Refreshing Blend of Japanese Shochu with Natural Cucumber Syrup. It was indeed refreshing, kind of like a sweeter version of spa water with a little kick from the alcohol, which there probably wasn’t much of. But everyone in our group wanted to finish it as I endlessly searched around the Pavilion trying to find the Nikka Taketsuru.

If you’re unfamiliar with sake then this is a good opportunity to give it a try for an investment between $7 and $11.

I like the Nigori or “cloudy” sake, which is on the right. This is a pretty strong pour of the roughly 15% ABV alcohol – slightly sweet with a fruity smell.

Overall, the sake bar is a fun little stop for those drinking around the world or for those that want to try something a little more interesting than your standard beer or frozen vodka cocktail.

And as always, I caution against the Frozen Kirin, which has a particularly unappetizing beer foam on the top. It remains the only beer that I’ve ever drank through a straw.

Kabuki Cafe Epcot Japan

Kabuki Cafe is the name of the kiosk located on the left side of the Pavilion, specializing in the Japanese version of the sno-cone.

They recently added an alcoholic version:

The upcharge is $5 versus the usual version.

Three flavors are available.

Blood Orange, Coffee, and Chocolate Cherry.

The Blood Orange was the most refreshing and “felt” most like your typical, fruity sno-cone.

But there was not a lot of alcohol involved – there’s supposed to be some plum wine in the syrup, but it was virtually undetectable, which might be a good thing if you don’t want to taste it or a bad thing if you were hoping to feel it.

The Chocolate Cherry tasted medicinal – I think there’s a reason why your local fair doesn’t typically carry a chocolate flavor. They might have tried to make up for that fact by making it the largest of the three offered.

The Coffee was good though and tasted largely like if you were to make coffee ice cubes and then put them through a sno-cone maker. Much more natural than the Chocolate Cherry.

Overall, the flavors are unique, but I think the smart money would be on a regular $4 kakigori and a glass of sake or plum wine on the side.

No matter what you decide, haul it back to one of the prettiest areas in all of Walt Disney World behind Kabuki Cafe and to the left of Katsura Grill.

Speaking of Katsura Grill, the Japan quick service debuted this menu last year. Having ordered virtually every single entree on property, it takes a lot for my eyes to bulge visibly away from the rest of the my face. But the thought of Katsura’s teriyaki entrees going to $17 from $~12 is as close as I’ve come in a while. If you look closely at the fine print underneath “Teriyaki Combinations,” you’ll see that each is “served with beverage and ice cream.” But this is the menu posted outside. And typically, you want your prices to seem low to get people in the door, at which point it is too late and you let the upcharges roll. Posting higher prices outside seems counter-intuitive. You might remember that last year Disney decided to only post the drink prices at Dawa Bar at Animal Kingdom with the souvenir cup included, even though each drink was available without. People typically saw the $17.50 prices, not realizing that the souvenir vessel was being forced upon them, and headed elsewhere. Even though you could order the drink without the souvie. Of course, Disney has since done away with that and now posts drink prices in the usual plastic cup, each for under $10.

But the menu has been changed again and now includes pricing without the drink or ice cream.

Because who knew people thinking the Chicken Teriyaki is $10 instead of $15 gets more people in the door?

If you missed my update on the Kawaii exhibit, you might check out: http://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/kawaii-japans-cute-culture-in-the-bijutsu-kan-gallery-at-epcot-opens/.

Like you, we’ll skip the Morocco Pavilion and head straight to Chefs de France to try the all-day menu.

Comments

  1. says

    “and the umbrella will help protect you from the afternoon showers.”

    That one caught me by surprise and I nearly spit coffee all over my keyboard. I guess it needs an umbrella, too.

  2. Dawn says

    cute umbrella joke..Hope your kidding about skipping Morocco I need to hear about the Restaurant Marakesh (spell?)…besides I know it’s your fav!!

  3. Sharon says

    I wonder how many have tried to get those entrees for a snack credit since the snack credit logo is next to everything except the alcoholic beverages. Whoever approved this signage really messed up.

  4. Grover's Bathtub says

    There is a drink in World Showcase
    They call The Rising Sun,
    And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
    And Josh, I know is one.

  5. Brian says

    The best part of Japan is the Agent P adventure. You activate a large Agent P driving a boat through the castle moat. If that isn’t an odd enough sight, you then trigger a water explosion that scares anyone not knowing it is coming. It is a well done mission and setting off the explosion will cause brief chaos for all who are near.

  6. RB says

    I’m confused by the fact that the new Katsura Grill menu has the “DDP” symbol (usually used to denote snack items) next to every category on the menu! Surely you can’t get everything on the menu for a snack credit!??

  7. Josh K says

    WHY Skip Morocco??? My wife and I LOVE that pavilion! Great food, great shop and great drinks. The guys at the little frozen drink stand have always “hooked us up” on our past visits. They would make us the strongest drinks we’d get in all of WDW and make special mixes not on the menu, (maybe we just got lucky?)

  8. Beth says

    We were in Epcot the first week in June and tried the blood orange Sno-Cone. I gotta say, it was fabulous!! It was about 385 degrees that day with 1000% humidity and it really hit the spot! Very refreshing, fruity and surprisingly strong! Maybe it depends on which CM is doing the pouring. We enjoyed them while watching the Boston Tribute band, “Don’t Look Back”, who were incredible! One of my best memories from that trip.

  9. Carol O. says

    Japan is my favorite, too. Even without a ride. I love to sit outside, up top by the grill, and eat. It’s usually not crowded, and very peaceful there.
    “Like you, we’ll be skipping Morocco”. Lol. Last time we went, we gave our once -every- five- years’ visit to Morocco. I got some cute pictures, but that’s about it.

  10. Anon says

    I believe your opinion of the frozen Kirin is the first time we’ve disagreed about anything. It’s the only place in the US where you can get it without buying your own machinery!

  11. Dave says

    You’re right, The Japan Pavilion is great, and putting a major “ride” there would put it over the top as being the best one. Might I suggest, “GODZILLA ATTACKS!”

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