Katsura Grill Opens in Japan Pavilion

For the last three months, Yakitori House at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot has been ensconced behind plywood walls. The Imagineers had decided it was time for a change and this perennial favorite of many underwent a transformation.

First, the restaurant’s name has changed. Yakitori in Japanese refers to grilled skewered food, more often than not, grilled chicken. However, this offering has not been on the menu in many years. This was often confusing to Japanese guests and those familiar with the term. So the restaurant is now called Katsura Grill.

The name “Katsura” comes from the Katsura Imperial Villa located outside of Kyoto. The gardens and architecture here are considered outstanding and of great cultural importance.

I was on hand today (December 7, 2011) for the grand opening of Katsura Grill and was the first customer to be served. The cast members and manager all welcomed and applauded me.

Katsura Grill

The building is basically like it was before, however, all of the rice paper (shoji screen) windows have been replaced with clear glass. This is great! The outside area is beautiful and now these vistas can be enjoyed from inside. The restaurant is much brighter than it had been. The furniture also has a more modern, clean look. A large table has been added in the middle of the dining room for big groups or communal seating.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

The ceiling remains the same with rough-hewn logs, however, a modern light fixture and colorful Japanese artwork have been added for a more contemporary touch.

Light Fixture



The ordering counter has also been redesigned. It is now more open and bright and features a single line for better crowd control.

Ordering Counter

For the most part, the seating outside remains the same, however, new red umbrellas and red upholstered stools have replaced the old white and blue color scheme. In addition, three tables have been added adjacent to the building.

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

The menu has been expanded slightly, but most of your old favorites are still here, like teriyaki beef and chicken, California rolls, and udon. Pictured below are the Shogun Combo (teriyaki beef and chicken, rice and vegetables) and the Tokyo Sushi Combo.

Shogun Combo

Tokyo Sushi Combo

Yakitori House has always been one of my favorite counter service restaurants and Katsura Grill will continue to rank among my preferred spots.

Another change has also come to the Japan Pavilion. For many years, a small gift shop, located across the walkway from the Mitsukoshi Department Store, sold Japanese souvenirs. Since much of this merchandise was a duplicate of what Mitsukoshi offered, this spot was converted to a beverage stand and now serves sake, beer, tea, plum wine, and soft drinks. This new stand is called Garden House.

Garden House

Garden House

In the months to come, I will be bringing you an in-depth article about the Japan Pavilion and more details about Garden House, Katsura Grill, and the rest of this wonderful World Showcase nation. Stay tuned.

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20 Replies to “Katsura Grill Opens in Japan Pavilion”

  1. Nice review and pictures! Great memories of the old joint. Crossing my fingers that they bring back the yakitori plates some day!

  2. I really really hope they bring back the ginger cake, it’s my favorite dessert anywhere in the World. I am so excited to try it out though. We loved Yakitori House.

  3. Hi

    We ate there twice last week. Everything was great including the sushi. My husband, who was not with me on this trip, is a vegetatian so I am always interested in seeing the vegetarian options. Unfortunately, there were none, which surprised me.

  4. Nice blog, Jack as always. I passed through here on my most recent trip but didn’t have a chance to dine here. I did dine at Tokyo Dining, which is one of my favorites and was wonderful as always. We’ll have to try this on a future visit.

    By any chance have you heard anything on the Polynesian closure? We keep hearing that the resort is going to close in the coming year for a refurbishment/major overhaul but this seems so unlikely due to the popularity of the resort. Do you think it is true? Thanks & take care. Jeff

    Jack’s Answer:

    I have heard nothing about the Poly closing for an extensive rehab, but I’m sure it isn’t true. Whenever Disney wants to refurbish rooms, they close a block of rooms at a time (or a floor), or in the Poly’s case, maybe an entire longhouse. But they will not close the entire resort all at once.

  5. Hi Jack,
    Is Katsura Grill on the dining plan? I heard only beverages will be eligible for the plan is that true?

    Jack’s Answer — sort of:

    I did a little investigating and found a 2012 Dining Plan brochure. Katsura Grill was not listed. However, before Yakitori House closed, it was included on the Dining Plan. So I really can’t give you a definitive answer. Sorry.

  6. Hey Jack,
    Another awesome blog! I am looking forward to trying out the Katsura Grill. I’m happy to see that they updated the kitchen and ordering counter. Last time I was there I was disappointed to find the sushi I ordered was room temp. I only then realized that it was all just setting out stacked upon each other on the counter of the serving window. Room temperature is not the safest practice in storing raw fish 🙁 I wrote Guest Services about it about a week before they closed Yakitori for the refurb. I trust this is not a practice they continue at Katsura. I understand Sushi is to be enjoyed a little warmer than chilled but for storage and safety purposes I would rather receive it chilled and allow it to warm up on its own. Looking forward to giving Katsura another shot!!!

  7. Hey Jack!

    I get so jealous of you when I read your blogs (lol)! Yet your writings never cease to put a smile on my face. I can’t wait to hear you in depth blog on the Japan Pavillion.

  8. To the person who asked whether anything is vegetarian, unfortunately I don’t know, but in trying to find out I found this page on the AllEars web site that has a lot of good information on that topic:

    The only thing listed in Japan is the the outdoor food stand known as Kabuki Cafe. They have a frozen desert called Kaki Gori that is vegan that contains shaved ice topped with fruit syrups: choice of strawberry, melon, mikan (tangerine), or rainbow (all three flavors).

  9. Hi Jack,
    I’m jealous I wasn’t there with you on at the grand opening! Our first WDW stop after my wedding on the Disney Cruise this past August was to Epcot’s Yakitori House to introduce the parents and inlaws to my favorite dish – Japanese Curry – at my favorite counter service. To say I was disappointed was an understatement when we arrived in Japan only to find it all boarded up! I can’t wait to visit again in February – sadly, the parents will not be able to experience this really great little eatery.

    Can you confirm the Japanese curry is still on the menu and give a disappointed bride a little hope for our Feb trip? (Crossing fingers!!!)

    Jack’s Comment:

    I don’t know if these are the curry items you remember, but the new menu offers Japanese Curry Udon, Chicken Cutlet Curry, and Japanese Curry Rice.

  10. Does anyone know if they still have the ginger cake? It was such a unique sweet- spicy and adventurous yet still a fun way to get your cake fixing! I hope it’s still there!

    Jack’s Answer:

    I’m sorry to inform you that Ginger Cake is not on the menu.

  11. Hi Jack…. We missed each other by 1 day.
    I was there on the 6th. On the 7th. went to Animal Kingdom.

    I’ll have to stop by Yakito…. uh, I mean, Katsura Grill next week.
    Yakitori House has always been my favorite place to eat around the World; especially when it’s cold outside! It was always the perfect place to duck in out of the cold and get a hot bowl of Udon Soup.

    Thanks for the report and great pics!


  12. Hi Jack! The Japan pavilion is one of my favorites. There are so many beautiful, quiet spots, to just sit and enjoy the surroundings. The shopping and restaurants are top notch too. I can’t wait to try the Katsura Grill. It looks and sounds yummy, and sushi is one of my favorite things to eat. We have eaten at Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining many times in the past. They have always served delicious food and spirits!!!

  13. Does anybody know if there are any vegetarian options at Katsura Grill? Yakitori House did not offer any, so I was never able to eat there. I see Okonomiyaki on the menu here at AllEars but haven’t been able to confirm yet if it has any seafood-based sauce or other seafood products in it (sometimes in Japanese food they like to add bonito flakes, etc. which makes it unsuitable for us veggies). Eggs/dairy are fine, I’m just trying to figure out if there are any meat/seafood/poultry items in it. Any help would be appreciated – I’ve tried emailing through the standard Disney contact forms but haven’t heard from them =/

    Jack’s Comment:

    I just read to new menu. I can’t really tell if there are vegetarian options available. Sorry. Maybe someone else will eat there and let you know.

  14. hey jack
    i have always liked sushi so this is definetly going to be a place i stop at next time i visit. i also like the new drink shop. can’t wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

  15. Hi Jack. Thanks, as always, for the great information. We’ve always loved Yakitori House not only for the food but the location as well. On many an afternoon we escaped the crowds at Epcot to sip a beverage in the outdoor seating area and enjoy the stillness of the the gardens. It’s lovely in the evenings as well when the lanterns are lit.

    Tell me, are they still serving sake at the bar inside Mitsukoshi? Or has the Garden House replaced this? Keep up the great work!

    Jack’s Answer:

    I can’t give you a definitive answer, but I would be VERY surprised if they discontinued the sake inside Mitsukoshi. But you never know. I’ll have to check next time I’m there.

  16. Jack, I’m a big fan of the Yakitori House, so it’s great to see that it’s re-opening and looks really nice once again. I’m looking forward to going there again, though it’s tough with a two-year-old. I just love the whole set-up, especially the outdoor landscaping. Nice post.

  17. Congrats on being the first person to be served 🙂 Happy to hear that most of the menu items have stayed the same–the update look is great! Thanks for keeping us up to date!!

  18. This was always one of my favorite places to get a good counter service meal. You get a good amount of food and at a good value. Having opened up the windows will make a huge difference. Even though this place was kinda of the beaten path it would get quite crowded at times. It would be nice if they had some more outside covered seating. And not by umbrellas.

  19. Jack,
    How cool it is that you were the first person to be served! Awesome work in getting your blog with great pictures (as always) up so quickly!

  20. OK, I did find it more than a little ironic that a Japanese restaurant would have its grand opening on the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It looks great and I hope to dine there sometime soon!