Hanami is the Outdoor Kitchen in the Japan pavilion of World Showcase during the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival. In this Walt Disney World dining review, we’ll look at the menu prices, share food photos, and offer thoughts on what is worth your money and what to skip.
As regular readers of the blog probably know, we’re fans of Japan—both the country and the World Showcase pavilion at EPCOT. Prior to this past year, we had been spending a couple months every year in Japan, typically during fall colors and sakura seasons.
During the latter, we’ve had the chance to attend dozens of hanami, which are simply cherry blossom viewing parties. They’re usually at temples, parks, or castles and are a ton of fun. Not once have we ever encountered any of these items being sold or consumed at a hanami…
Don’t get me wrong–regional food snobs who think there is only one “right” kind of pizza or whatever can be insufferable. But this is pretty much the opposite of that. Aside from sakura colored or flavored dishes, the vast majority of food we’ve encountered at hanami is decidedly unfussy. It’s no “frushi.”
At actual hanami, you’ll find lots of street vendors with an assortment of fried stuff, kegs of beer, outside items brought in from 7-11, and huge buckets of KFC fried chicken. We are hardly the definitive authority on hanami, but the ones we’ve attended are reminiscent booze-fueled frat parties–or a weekend at EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival.
Anyway, thought that might be fun and/or interesting background. When you see the Hanami menu coupled with preconceived notions about Japan, you might think cherry blossom viewing parties are something prim and proper. They’re not. (If you want to see or learn more, check out our post: Sakura Season at Kyoto’s Hirano Shrine.)
With that out of the way, here’s a rundown of the Hanami Outdoor Kitchen food menu:
Frushi: Strawberry, Pineapple and Cantaloupe wrapped in Sweet Rice and Pink Soy Wrap served with Whipped Cream, Drizzled Berry Sauce and Toasted Coconut
Shrimp and Crab with Spicy Mayonnaise and Cucumber Slices Finished with Creamy Avocado and Violet Sauce
Soy-glazed Pork Shank with Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Crispy Lotus Flower, Garlic Chips and Green Onion
Now our photos and reviews of each item served at the Japan pavilion’s food booth…
Frushi ($6) – We like fruit and we like sushi. This popular dish is photogenic and fun, but not the optimal way to consume either.
You’re paying a lot of money for very little substance here. It’s one thing when the rolls have small portions of pricey fish. It’s another entirely when you’re paying $6 for three-quarters of a strawberry, and other partial-portions of fruit. We do not recommend this. With that said, other Walt Disney World fans seem to love the frushi, so clearly we’re in the minority on this one.
Shrimp and Crab with Spicy Mayonnaise and Cucumber ($6.50) – Flavor-wise, this is more or less a concentrated and deconstructed spicy California roll. In other words, nothing special, but a tasty guilty pleasure.
In my view, it would probably hold up better with some rice. That would also make the $6.50 price a bit more palatable. In terms of a recommendation, we could go either way on this one.
Soy-glazed Pork Shank with Truffle Mashed Potatoes ($7) – The definitive winner at the Hanami booth, and one of the top overall items at the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival.
The meat on ours was a sizable portion, fall-off-the-bone tender, juicy, and absolutely delicious. The truffle mashed potatoes went with it perfectly, and the garlic chips provided texture and some added flavor. Highly recommended!
There are plenty of options on the alcohol menu for Japan’s Outdoor Kitchen:
Yuzu Tilted Tonic Hard Seltzer
Ozeki Pineapple Nigori Sake
Cucumber Cooler: Sake, vodka, and cucumber garnished with a cucumber slice
Overall, the Japan pavilion’s Hanami Outdoor Kitchen at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is a mixed bag…which makes it a pleasant surprise by the historical standards of this food booth. The one dish we dislike is the frushi, which is a menu mainstay because so many Walt Disney World guests love it. Another dish we found to be fine, and the final one was fantastic. So, if you’re a fan of that frushi, you might end up loving the Hanami booth menu from start to finish!
Think EPCOT should switch things up and start serving fried food from 7-11 and buckets of KFC at the Hanami booth, or is the more traditional approach preferable? What do you think of the Japan pavilion’s Outdoor Kitchen? Have you tried any of the food items at this food booth? What did you like or dislike? Portion-size or quality-wise, did you have better or worse luck than us with what you ordered? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!