Grandma Sara’s Kitchen is a counter service restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland’s Critter Country serving a menu of comfort food based on favorites from the American South. This post features food photos, details of the restaurant’s design & details, and our overall rating of the restaurant.
Easily the most elaborately themed counter service restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland (and arguably the best themed counter service restaurant anywhere), Grandma Sara’s is basically Splash Mountain: The Restaurant. It turns out that Grandma Sara is meticulous, and her restaurant is an incredibly engaging, multi-level environment and lots of great decor. From a design perspective, it’s interwoven with Splash Mountain as it is literally in the mountain, and thematically parallels the attraction.
The reason for this is because Critter Country itself, one of the first major additions to Tokyo Disneyland after it opened, is all basically an outgrowth of Splash Mountain. It is the original single-attraction Disney theme park land (Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes don’t really count), and both Grandma Sara’s and Rackety’s Raccoon Saloon are extensions of Splash Mountain.
Interestingly, this is only in tone and style and not in characters. Based on my research, none of the characters in Grandma Sara’s are from Song of the South, even though they do closely resemble the “Brer” critters found in Splash Mountain and Song of the South. I could be wrong on this, but if true, I think it’s pretty cool that the Imagineers created new characters specifically for these theme park restaurants.
Let’s start with the wonderfully executed theme…
As mentioned above, Grandma Sara’s is multi-level. One thing Tokyo Disneyland as a whole does really poorly is landscaping–virtually the entire park is flat, with very little gradation to engage guests as they walk.
Critter County feels like it was built with an eye on somehow remedying this, and is incredibly contoured. This is evident throughout Grandma Sara’s. This is not just in the stairs going from the first floor to the second, but also in the nooks, crannies, and various little areas that are separated by small steps up or down, or otherwise separated from the rest of the restaurant.
This makes for a really cool restaurant to explore, and despite being one of the largest and most popular (there’s often a line out the door at lunch) restaurants at Tokyo Disneyland, it feels intimate.
There are a lot of little rooms and alcoves that seat only a handful of people, but yet are incredibly detailed areas of Grandma Sara’s house.
I really wish I knew more about the backstory here. It’s called Grandma Sara’s Kitchen, but it appears to be her entire house, which is inhabited by she and her family, and also various “Brer Friends.”
Then there’s the question of what, exactly, Grandma Sara is. I mean, we know she’s a grandma–I mean what type of animal.
I always assumed she is an opossum, but the Tokyo Disneyland website claims she’s a muskrat. Either muskrat look dramatically different in Japan, or that’s a party foul on the part of Google Translate. (And if you’ve ever wanted to know what Sarah and I do for entertainment, it’s ponder the questions of the day…such as the differences between opossum and muskrats and what muskrat “means” to the Japanese. Ah, the rousing life of a Disney blogger!)
There are more photos of the details in Part 11 of our Spring 2013 Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report. Check out that awesome grandfather clock!
This is the Doria (I’ve had it in both seafood and chicken varieties), which is basically a Japanese spin on creamy, rice casserole. This is very typical of what’s served at Grandma Sara’s: American comfort foods with Japanese twist. Usually, that twist is “more creaminess, sauce, and cheese!”
As a result, I’m a huge fan of Grandma Sara’s, and Sarah is a fan of the theme, but not so much the unhealthy cuisine.
Here’s the Crab Cream Croquette of Omelet, which is all things the name states. It’s a creamy, crab omelet on a bed of rice that I have found to be surprisingly good comfort food. It was also pretty filling, and definitely something I’d order again.
This is the Hamburger Steak, another excellent dish. It’s essentially a Japanese spin on meatloaf, topped with wild mushrooms. I’m not a huge meatloaf fan (the meat–everyone knows the band rules), but this had a distinct flavor somewhere between meatloaf and burger. The sauce that topped it and the excellent mushrooms were a nice touch.
Grandma Sara’s always has Special Sets for the various holidays. Here’s the “traditional” Pumpkin Omelet served for Halloween. We’ve also ordered off the Christmas Special Set, and found that to be a kawaii option, too.
This is Apple Clafouti, which I presume means “pie”…I didn’t try it.
Here’s the Beef Pastrami and Pumpkin Salad. All of the flavors separately were pretty good and the salad was high quality, but it didn’t combine to make for a good dish. The flavors contrasted one another too harshly when mixed as a traditional salad.
This is the Critter Country Cake. It is just under $5, and is definitely large enough to share. Unfortunately, it was very dry and relatively flavorless. I was expecting something akin to a crumb cake, but it was denser than that.
Overall, Grandma Sara’s is one of my absolute favorite restaurants at Tokyo Disneyland, and it’s almost entirely because of the theme. This is the most richly themed restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland, by a wide margin. Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall generally garners more attention because of its association with Alice in Wonderland, a movie with a huge fan-following, but Grandma Sara’s is so much better. As a fan of the theme parks more so than the movies, I really appreciate the extension of the Splash Mountain story, including (what I assume are) Brer animals created specifically for Tokyo Disneyland. I always recommend people dine here, and that’s totally for the theme. It, along with Casbah Food Court at Tokyo DisneySea, is the only restaurant at which we’ve dined in Tokyo Disneyland on every trip. I also like the interesting twist on down home cooking, but it’s definitely not the best (or probably even top 5) at Tokyo Disneyland in terms of food.
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. To save money on a visit to Japan, read our Tokyo Disney on a Budget article. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report. To read other Disney restaurant reviews from Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea check out our Tokyo Disney Dining Reviews Index.
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Does Grandma Sara’s Kitchen look good to you? Have you dined here? If you’re a regular, any favorite season to go? If you have any other comments or questions, post them below and I’ll try to answer!