Friday, May 13, 2011

Kimonos - Swan Resort at Walt Disney World Resorts

Restaurant Info:

We're always craving for sushi since it's so tough to get fresh fish in the middle of NY state. After another long day at Universal Studios (and a delicious meal at Emeril's) we were starving, and we found Kimonos in a coupon book that was given to us by Siddharth's SFB conference (you can also get these if you're a AAA member).

This restaurant is inside the Swan Resort, a Disney Resort that is on Lake Buena Vista. The decor is a sort of modern Japanese with wooden paneled walls, bamboos bordering the ceiling, and kimonos (who would have guessed!) decorating the walls and tatami doors overhanging the bar. It was more of a lounge than a restaurant because most of the tables were pretty low and the chairs were more like love seats and single couches rather than dinner chairs. The sushi bar was small with just about 4 seats. The drinks bar was considerably bigger, and the main attention getter is the karaoke stage (perhaps a bit of an unfortunate addition). Kids are allowed to sing but are not allowed in the lounge past 11pm. When we went, several people had the courage to sing country and pop tunes.

We started by trying Kimonos' specialty drink of the night- the plum sangria. This was a modification on the classic sangria that attempted to incorporate Japanese flavors. The drink was made from plum wine and sake plus lychee and blackberry juice. Fresh orange and blackberries were used in lieu of the usual fruits one encounters in sangria. As you can see from the photos, the resulting drink had amazing color: a mixture of fuchsia and purple. And the taste was pretty good as well! Very refreshing, sweet and fruity. I think this drink would taste really good on a hot day near the pool. Kimonos' bar and lounge certainly proved capable of concocting an interesting drink. Overall the drinks menu is certainly tailored to those looking for drinks of the fruity variety, but the bar was fully stocked, so I imagine they are capable of mixing anything up.

 For our appetizer (left), we ordered the braised scallops with napa cabbage and slivers of lotus root, some of which were fried and some of which were steamed. For those that don't know, lotus roots are a common ingredient in both Chinese and Indian cooking. They have a starchy texture, and if not cooked properly, they can be unpleasantly pulpy. They have a nice briny taste, almost like a naturally salty radish. Luckily, Kimonos prepared these well: the fried ones were thinly sliced and crispy, while the steamed ones were fully cooked and tender. The scallops were braised really well, maintaining their tenderness and sweetness with minimal seasoning. The best part was the seafood broth that the scallops were served in, as this added saltiness to bring out that flavor of the sea from the scallops.

For dinner, we ordered a simple plate of sushi with 2 specials rolls, the Bonzai (top roll) and the Jalapeno roll (most left roll). The Bonzai roll was spicy tuna, avocado and eel. The Jalapeno roll came with spicy crawfish. Both rolls were very tasty and fairly unique. We ordered sake (salmon) and ikura sushi to the general freshness of the fish, and we were generally pleased. The fish was certainly not of the caliber found in more expensive eateries we have been to in NYC and Boston, but it was certainly above average and preferable to the offering in Ithaca. The sushi rice was a major weakness of the nigiri however; for those that love sushi, you know that the seasoning of the rice is crucial to balancing the flavor of the fish (otherwise nigiri would just be sashimi on top of rice, which is not the intention). At Kimonos, very little attention was paid to the rice, and the use of vinegar was poor. If you do end up at Kimonos, we'd recommend sashimi over sushi for those that are purists.

Overall, we were quite satisfied with our meal and the drink. We loved the casual atmosphere of this upscale sushi restaurant. If we ever go back to Kimonos, we would especially look forward to trying more of their drinks and appetizers. For those who want a good quality sushi-based meal, this is a great place to go in Orlando. And as a bonus, you could always visit the nearby Fountain for dessert!


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