Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Have an Unforgettable Meal at Emeril's Tchoup Chop

Robata Grill Skewers & Dipping Sauces
My husband and I had an unforgettable meal at Emeril's Tchoup Chop inside the Loew's Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando recently and you can too. The ambiance, unique and perfectly prepared food, and impeccable service make for a perfect romantic meal or night out.

You might think it is difficult to park at such a popular resort, but that is not the case. You can drive right up to Emeril's Tchoup Chop and receive free valet parking. Walking in, I was struck by the beauty and grandeur of my surroundings. A huge square pool with lily pads sits in the middle of the room, while the walls are backlit with blue lights and huge bamboo. You are transported to a Polynesian world.

Sesame Ahi Tuna
The theme of Emeril's Tchoup Chop menu is Asian fusion, and the new chef de cuisine, Ryan Vargas, takes Asian fusion to a whole new level. After living in Hawaii for many years, Chef Ryan has infused popular Hawaiian cooking methods and flavors into many of Tchoup Chop's dishes featured on its new menu. 

We started with two of Tchoup Chop's signature cocktails, La Floridita (the Hemingway) and Mai Tai, and both were delicious. For appetizers, we were excited to try meat skewers and vegetables from the restaurant's new Japanese Robata Grill, which quickly sears meat and veggies at a high temperature and locks in their delicious flavors. While the preparation of the meats and vegetables is so simple, the results are outstanding. You don't want to miss this experience at the restaurant - and it is affordable. The cauliflower tasted like popcorn, and we also really enjoyed the Japanese peppers and asparagus. Both the lamb sausage and lamb skewers were also very flavorful and perfectly prepared.

One of the most popular dishes at Tchoup Chop is the Sesame Ahi Tuna, so we tried that. It is prepared with a thick sesame crust and lightly seared, and served with a Quinoa Tropical Fruit Tablouleh and a Wasabi Ogo Vinaigrette. The top-quality tuna was so smooth and flavorful, and the crust and vinaigrette complemented it nicely, not overpowering the fish. The Quinoa Tabouleh had such a nice, bright flavor.

Arguably one of the best fish entrees I have ever had, we also loved the Hawaiian Style Local Snapper. It is prepared with a light Sesame Soy broth and is served over baby bok choy and mushrooms. The fish was cooked absolutely perfectly, and the broth paired perfectly with the fish. Did I mention "light"? All the dishes we had felt light and healthy. "It's a reflection of how I changed my lifestyle and how my family eats," Chef Ryan told us.

After that light, healthy dinner, we of course had to try many of Tchoup's Chop's desserts, including Emeril's Signature Banana Cream Pie. That thing should be illegal. I tried to stop eating it, but couldn't.. There was something different in every bite. We would also highly recommend the Crispy Guava Dumpling, with guava and cream cheese filling. The dumpling is delicious on its own, but it is elevated to a new level when you pair it with the accompanying mango dipping sauce. I would also recommend the creme brulees, and the Chocolate Kamora Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse.

If you are planning a special Valentine's Day dinner for your sweetheart, you are in luck. Chef Ryan has put together a special menu for the day, at $75 per person. 

Where: 6300 Hollywood Way, Orlando, Fla.

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