Disney took their sweet time jumping on the kaiseki/omakase train, but when they did, they rode the shinkansen into modern-day dining.
Takumi-Tei, a dinner-only Japanese restaurant that department store chain Mitsukoshi opened last summer at Epcot's Japan Pavilion, is set to contend with Kabooki Sushi, Kadence and others in the competitive pursuit of high-end Japanese dining.
And the restaurant is equipped with the sort of truthiness only Disney can buy: Kimono-garbed servers and hosts straight from Japan quietly patrol a transportive and hinoki-scented sanctuary that immediately removes you from the park's spectacle of maddening theatrics.
Five rooms, each with their own unique and soul-settling theme — wood, paper, stone, earth and water — scream "Serenity Now!" (Those of you who tolerate the theme parks solely for your children, a meal here could prove restorative.)
Takumi-Tei chef Ty Schmitt
Ty Schmitt, who cheffed about at various restaurants in the Naples area (Roy's, Foxboro Sports Tavern, Vergina), oversees Takumi-Tei's roll-free menu of Japanese eats — okay there is a mozaiku roll ($22), but it's square and its assemblage of bluefin tuna, yellowtail, red shiso rice, tobiko and asparagus resembles a Mondrian painting more than it does a California roll.
Hardly surprising considering Takumi-Tei translates to "House of Artisans."
The à la carte menu is purposefully focused so as to tout the seven-course omakase ($150; $225 with wine/sake pairing) and nine-course kaiseki ($200; $300 with wine/sake pairing) options.
We were recently invited to partake in a kaiseki experience inside Takumi-Tei's most intimate setting: the private (and very zen) water room.
The sounds inside the 8-seat sanctum are expectedly tranquil: the waterwall's narcotic trickle; the melodies of koto music; even the hushed voice Schmitt employs when presenting a meal of meticulously crafted and impeccably plated dishes.
Should you choose to indulge in this special-occasion dining experience yourself, there are few things you should know:
1) Dinner prices don't include the cost of admission into Epcot ($109).
2) Don't dress like a bloody beach-bound tourist.
3) Give yourself 30 minutes to walk from the Epcot parking lot to the restaurant.
4) Expect your chef's table experience to take 3-4 hours.
5) Exercise the Japanese cultural practice of bowing.