The Kabuki Cafe is a cute little stand alone building on the edge of Epcot's Japan Pavilion. It's tucked back a bit, and on a windy day, it's just close enough to the America Pavilion that you can smell funnel cakes wafting in from the east!
Because there are quite a few beer bottles and frozen ice type beverages visible from a few paces away, you might think that the Kabuki Cafe is just a glorified beverage cart. (The beverage options here, are actually quite unique, and worth a few steps closer to the booth to check out… if you happen to be passing by one day.)
Today though, I'm reviewing one of the overlooked items at the booth… packaged Sushi. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't consider anything but fresh, made to order Sushi at a sit-down type of restaurant. There's just too many unknowns. But at Epcot, (and specifically here at the Kabuki Cafe), what's in the box, is pretty fresh. You can get fresh made sushi at so many of the other restaurants in the Japan Pavilion (Tokyo Dining
and the Katsura Grill
just to name two), that you get the impression they are making sushi all the time, from park-open, to park-close.
There aren't too many sushi options at the Kabuki Cafe, but that's okay because it is just a small quick-service booth. That familiar gateway sushi, the "California Roll", is almost always on-hand and combines Avocado, Cucumber, Crab, Mayonnaise, Smelt Roe Rolled in Sushi Rice. A second selection does change every once in a while, and is currently (summer 2016) "HAKO Sushi" which is "Box Style" Salmon, Tuna and Shrimp. You can purchase each individually, or get the combo which contains two pieces of California Roll with a few pieces of Salmon and Shrimp Hako-Sushi.
Whichever you choose, there's a few accompaniments in the clear plastic container, some Wasabi paste and Gari (pickled ginger that's commonly used to cleanse the palate between eating different pieces of sushi, and/or after eating all the sushi). Some cool looking plastic green grass is also included, but unless you like ingesting plastic… it's for decoration and sushi separation only. Chopsticks are available, and if you don't know how to use them… this is the perfect opportunity to play around with the traditional eastern eating utensil. There's nothing in the box that you couldn't pick up with your fingers though… just make sure you wash your hands first... (I'm just saying).
For this review, I picked up Kabuki's "Combo Box" of Sushi and it was indeed fresh, and delicious. If you have never tried sushi, this particular combo is a great way to see if you like it. The California Roll only contains the smallest amounts of fish, so for those that are turned off by the whole idea of eating raw seafood, the California Roll minimizes the amount of raw fish, while still giving you an idea of the texture and basic flavors.
The Salmon and Shrimp Hako-Sushi or "Box Sushi" (because, well… it looks like a little box), is basically raw salmon and shrimp cut perfectly square on top of a box of slightly pickled and dense-packed rise. It's sort of that "next step" after the California Roll.
The green stuff in the box is wasabi paste, and if you've never crossed paths with wasabi paste, proceed with caution. It's a unique kind of nose-stinging, watering eyes kind of hot. If you're going to try it, you don't need but the smallest pin-head sized amount of the stuff, to get a feel for what it is. The other thing in the box is called Gari (which you'll find as a garnish with most sushi) and is basically young garlic, sliced and pickled. Here again, proceed with caution… some people love it, some people don't!
I just wanted to comment on the seating options quickly (i.e., where do I go once I get my sushi). There's a small, elevated, partially covered seating area just behind the Kabuki Cafe. You'll have to go up the stairs to the right the booth and the tall Pagoda building, and you'll see the seating on your left. There's also a seating area up by the Katsura Grill
(indoor and outdoor), and since it's all owned by the same company, I don't think you're breaking any etiquette rules by bringing something from one area to the next.
All in all, I'd recommend the Kabuki Cafe's Sushi to anyone wanting to "try" sushi for the first time, or if you're just looking for a quick sushi snack while walking around Epcot. As far as pairings go, the booth actually has a couple of "import" beers from Japan such as Kirin and Sapporo, both of which are available as drafts… (I put "import" in quotes because I secretly believe that SABMiller or InBev pretty much make every beer you can drink in America, put I can't prove that).
The Sake Flights, Sake Cocktails, and various frozen ice's… are very cool here as well, but maybe don't go quite as well with sushi. (At least not in my mind.) Which means we'll have to visit the Kabuki Cafe again soon, and try some of the kiosk's unique beverage options!