We had the opportunity to try a variety of different dishes at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, a restaurant that is tucked down by the pool of the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. This was our first visit, and we already know we’ll be back again soon. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop will validate valet parking (at resort main entrance for lunch, and at the Pacifica Ballroom entrance for dinner). Many guests enjoy dinner or happy hour before heading off to events like a Blue Man Group show. It is a short walk or boat ride to CityWalk.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop recently underwent a cosmetic and menu makeover. Known for Asian-Polynesian Fusion dining, the restaurant has a new chef (since October), Ryan Vargas. Vargas has made his mark on the menu, consulting with restaurant owner Chef Emeril Lagasse on an array of unique dishes. He continually referred to the dishes as “whimsical”, he wants food to be fun and interesting.
What we first noted when entering Emeril’s Tchoup Chop is the stunning dining room. Lunch is generally not a busy time for Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, with guests mostly in the Universal Orlando parks. Dinner is often booked solid, and it was getting much busier toward the end of our meal. It was nice having the restaurant mostly to ourselves for photos. I’ve looked at older photos of the Emeril’s Tchoup Chop dining room for reference, and it was similar – but the colors and design just really pop now.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop calls this a reflecting pool. Everything in the restaurant – including those gorgeous orange chandeliers – double in the reflection.
Jeff and I each enjoyed one drink while here. He had the 1944 Mai Tai Roa Ae. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop uses fresh ingredients every day for their food, and we were told for the drinks as well. The Mai Tai is made with 3 Star Barbancourt Haitian rum, Myers dark rum, Orgeat syrup, Orange Curacao & fresh lime juice.
We were served a combination of lunch and dinner food. A new robata grill locks in the flavor by cooking the food at over 1000 degrees. The grill is used during dinner, and everything came out flavorfully. I mentioned above about the freshness of Emeril’s Tchoup Chop. There is a new delivery of ingredients every day, and the chef looks at the items before signing off on the delivery. Sometimes a menu item isn’t available because an ingredient didn’t arrive, or didn’t look as good as it should. Chef Vargas orders much of the food locally, from farm to table. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop does have a rotating menu, seasonal would be the best way to describe it.
Thai Spiced Lamb Satay
My drink was the Bangkok Beauty, and consisted of Hangar One Mandarin vodka, X-Rated fusion liqueur, strawberries, fresh lime juice & Rhubarb bitters. Unlike some restaurants we’ve been to, there was nothing watered down in these drinks. One was just enough for each of us.
Pork Belly with Lychee Nut Pepper Jelly. I don’t eat a lot of pork, but loved the crispiness of this dish. The server told us ahead of time that it would remind us of bacon.
Yakitori Pineapple Chicken. This was my favorite robata grill dish. Chicken can end up dry on a grill, but these skewers were tender and enchanced by the pineapple.
Da Tchoup Burger. Jeff thought the fried egg really made the burger, the combination wasn’t as big a hit for me. But the burger itself was delicious. It includes cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and Asian chimichurri. This is also one of their more popular menu items.
Japanese Eggplant. The Robata Grill makes wonderful vegetables. I am not a vegetarian, but I eat more vegetables with dinner than anything else. I would love to have vegetables presented to me like this every night! After dining at another restaurant between our meal at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop and this review, I have even a larger appreciation for the effort it takes to create a beautiful meal, and not just a tasty one. Presentation does make a difference.
Mushrooms with Ponzu. I’ve never met a mushroom I didn’t like, and these were exquisitely prepared and presented.
White Asparagus. We were told that Emeril’s Tchoup Chop sometimes receive purple asparagus to serve as well. I have never tried white asparagus before, and this ended up being my favorite vegetable here. There was a time in my adult life that I wouldn’t touch asparagus at all, but it is delicious when cooked correctly.
Shishito Peppers. The first one I put in my mouth was delightful, the second one? Hot! I stopped at that point. This is another item I’ve never tried before, and I’ve since read online that most of the peppers are sweet, but occasionally a hot one will appear. I wish I’d enjoyed a few more.
Anuenue Chirashi. We were told to think of this as deconstructed sushi. As soon as it arrived to the table, I told Jeff that I expected this was one of their most popular dishes. That is the case, a lot of guests will go to Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at lunch just to order it. The dish includes raw ahi & salmon, sushi rice, kamikana, avacado and cucumbers. This was Jeff’s favorite item of what we tried.
Fried Garlic Chicken Po Mi. This is made with thigh meat, a baguette, pickled vegetables with a chili aioli.
We were brought a trio of desserts – all full-sized. There is a special right now for a free appetizer or dessert when showing a theme park ticket with the purchase of an entree. There is a limit of one per table and no other discounts can apply (like the Universal Annual Pass discount, which will be a better value for some parties).
Chef Emeril’s Signature Banana Cream Pie. What can I say? This is the dessert of my dreams, and I don’t normally care for banana cream pie. This signature dessert has huge chunks of banana and the most decadent filling imaginable – I called it Tonga Toast in pie form. It is topped with cream and very large chocolate shavings. We were told to start with this because it is less sweet, and to work our way up. I wish I could have finished this one! I first watched the banana cream pie being delivered to another guest – I had no idea what it was at that time, but I told Jeff to turn around. It was an enormous dessert and looked delicious from across the room. We were told that guests will often order it when seeing it at another table. This is one of the best desserts I have ever had.
Chocolate Kamora Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse. This chocolate cake tasted like a peanut butter cup in cake form. Another winner.
Crispy Guava & Cream Cheese Dumplings. I had to ask Jeff if he remembered what this tasted like, because all I can think of is banana cream pie and chocolate with peanut butter. Yum. This actually was his favorite dessert. We didn’t finish any of them, the portion sizes are huge!
Jeff holds the plate of desserts before we dig in.
We spent 4 hours at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, I think that was a record for a meal for us! We enjoyed talking with management, our server and Chef Ryan Vargas so much that the time flew by.
This lovely floral mosaic was recently installed, with the restaurant closing for 5 days. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop has a quick time lapse video showing the installation process.
Chef Ryan Vargas sat down with us for over an hour to talk about his work and the menu. Vargas is extremely passionate about cooking, he enjoys spending long hours at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop. His nickname is “7-11”, he is in the restaurant nearly every day. He grew up in Hawaii, his dad was a chef in a mess hall. Vargas enjoys being creative in the kitchen, and was hired personally by owner Chef Emeril Lagasse. Many friends we’ve talked to love the restaurant, and were surprised how involved owner Lagasse is. While Vargas has creative control in the kitchen, he does confer regulary with the Lagasse on new menu items.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop has a happy hour from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at their outdoor tiki bar. There are a number of food options for a reasonable price, drink specials, and guests can also order off the regular dinner menu. Lunch hours are from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and dinner is from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. daily.
Thank you to Emeril’s Tchoup Chop for hosting us! They paid for our meals, we covered the gratuity and all views are ours. This is a restaurant we will be back to, especially once Diagon Alley opens at Universal Orlando in the upcoming weeks. Remember that Emeril’s Tchoup Chop is at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, some guests confuse it with Emeril’s at CityWalk. And one more note – there is a handicapped accessible restroom very close by in the convention center (about 2 minutes walk away). I was in a wheelchair due to a broken ankle, and have sometimes found it frustrating to find this type of access at other resorts. It was very convenient!
We will be talking about Emeril’s Tchoup Chop on Mousesteps Weekly show #102. We will link it when posted!