Walking into Emeril’s Tchoup Chop arouses all of the senses with its vibrant, tropical colors, tranquil water feature, and enticing smells from the open kitchen. The low lighting and warm hues against waves of blue transport guests to a tropical paradise, setting the stage for the beautiful Pacific fusion dishes they are about to enjoy.
Pronounced “chop-chop”, the restaurant derives its name from New Orleans’ famous Tchoupitoulas Street, the home of Emeril’s flagship restaurant, and the bold culinary “chop”.
Tchoup Chop has undergone a number of changes over the past several months, from a new chef and a new general manager to an updated look and menu. Hawaii native, Chef Ryan Vargas, joined the restaurant in October of 2013 and added his personal, whimsical touch to the dishes. His twenty plus years of experience and creativity are evident in his twists on classic favorites and reflect the melting pot of Asian and South Pacific cuisines characteristic of his native Hawaii.
The baristas keep the spirits flowing with signature island favorites like the classic Mai Tai with its citrus and lime finish, or a Pair of Pears, a pear cosmopolitan that perfect balances sweet and tart with a kick of ginger. The possibilities don’t end with cocktails. The restaurant boasts impressive sake, beer, and wine menus in addition to the full bar, and if guests are in need of recommendations, the general manager also serves as the restaurant’s sommelier and can usually be found in the dining room.
A stunning room-length water feature, hand assembled floor to ceiling mosaic, and cozy place settings are all well and good, but the real reason to visit Emeril’s Tchoup Chop is most definitely the food. The sushi arrive elegant, colorful, and delicious – tantalizing combinations draw together the many flavors of the Pacific. The Dragon Roll starts smooth and creamy, but finishes with a lingering heat. When biting into the Lemon Brulee roll, a lovely coating of lemon washes over the tongue, smooth and creamy with a hit of spice. The chef’s Aloha roll represents Hawaii on a plate featuring pulled pork, poke, and a salmon salsa.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop is one of only a few restaurants in Orlando that can boast it’s own robata grill – a Japanese style of barbeque. The 1200 degree oven sears meat leaving it juicy inside with a beautifully charred skin. The robata imparts vegetables with an enticing smokiness. That’s one way to get kids to eat their cauliflower! Guests can try skewers of beef, lamb, or chicken, and vegetables like cauliflower, shitake mushrooms, and shishito peppers. Bring a group of friends and play shishito roulette - the chef says every fifth pepper is spicy, care to test that theory?
The fusion of Pacific flavors appear throughout the menu, marked by the chef’s whimsical twists on classic dishes. Simultaneously rustic and exotic, the roast duck sitting atop a bed of greens and pineapple mash exudes Southern comfort with an Asian flair. A cheeky play on “KFC”, the Korean Fried Chicken will have guests shouting “winner winner chicken dinner” but in Korean. The crunchy strips of moist white meat chicken have new signature sides in the spicy kimchi mashed potatoes and garlicky spinach.
For dessert, the restaurant offers a wide variety, with something to appeal to every palate. Emeril’s signature Banana Cream Pie is sure to tantalize the tastebuds with layers of pastry cream and bananas and topped with slices of dark chocolate. If bananas don’t strike a fancy, those with adventurous tastes should try the guava and cream cheese pastries inspired by Portuguese techniques. Modern foodies will enjoy the doughnuts accompanied by squirt bottles filled with chocolate, mango, or coconut cream for an interactive dessert. Classic favorite crème brulee comes in flavors from rich and creamy white chocolate to light and sweet vanilla to subtle and surprising green tea. For the traditionalists, the tried and true combination of peanut butter and chocolate gets kicked up a notch in a moist chocolate cake layered with smooth peanut butter mousse.
The mélange of menu items may seem daunting, but the staff at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop are attentive, accommodating, and well-versed in the restaurant’s offerings. They are there to help, providing details of each dish and/or their personal recommendations.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop resides at Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort near Universal Orlando. Lunch is served daily from 11:30am to 2:30pm, and dinner from 5-10pm daily with happy hours between 5 and 8pm. Both reservations and walk-ins are accepted. Preferred dress is business casual – gents, that means no sleeveless shirts, please! Complimentary valet is available during dinner via the Resort Pacifica Ballroom entrance, and for lunch at the hotel main entrance. For news, menus, or reservations, visit EmerilsRestaurants.com.