Location: Royal Pacific Resort
6300 Hollywood Way
Orlando, FL 32819-7614
Hours: Lunch - 11:30 - 2:30 / Dinner - 5:30pm - 10:00pm (11pm Fri/Sat)
Amidst the south seas theme of the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, you'll find celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's second Orlando location, Tchoup Chop. Named after Tchoupitoulas Street, the New Orleans location of Emeril's flagship restaurant, this restaurant serves what is best described as "Asian Fusion" with a New Orleans flare.
After the last review of Tchoup Chop that we did (click here for that review), we thought it was time to do an update. I will admit that our expectations for this restaurant going in were high, if for no other reason than the pedigree of the name alone - it's one of Emeril's restaurants. As such, it is impossible not to compare it to its sister restaurant, Emeril's Orlando, located at CityWalk. Held to that standard, Tchoup chop suffers quite a bit by comparison.
Food: While the menu here is bold and enticing, we find that the caliber of food coming out of the kitchen is inconsistent. This seems to be influenced mainly by how busy the restaurant is. When we've dined at Tchoup Chop during off peak times, the food was excellent and very well prepared. During busier times, the kitchen staff seems to break down. During one recent visit (over Easter weekend), the Hawaiian Style Dinner Plate (consisting of smoked ribs and teriyaki chicken) needed to be sent back to the kitchen because it was overcooked - and not just a little - the meal was virtually inedible. The ribs were so badly burned, that they had the taste and consistency of charcoal. The Grilled Double Cut Pork Chop with Tamarind Barbecue glaze that we ordered was a bit better, but it was dry and frankly, it had an odd taste to it. The plate that was sent back was replaced (at our request) with the Clay Pot Fish of the Day (a perpetual menu offering). On this night, the fish we were served was Queen Snapper. The fish was well prepared and seemingly fresh, but for whatever reason, it just didn't taste good (perhaps the spices used?) While it's true that the kitchen may have been having an off night, at these prices there can be no excuse. A $30 entree must come out the kitchen perfect every time. In fairness to the restaurant, of the three recent visits we made to Tchoup chop, this was the only time we had to send a meal back.
On previous visits we tried the Macadamia Nut Crusted Atlantic Salmon (excellent), and the Grilled New York Strip steak (good, but a better steak could be had at Emeril's other location). In the instance where we needed to return food to the kitchen, I will say that the staff went out of their way to correct the problem, and did so very quickly. They seemed genuinely interested in ensuring that every aspect of the meal was to our liking, and for that we give them high marks. By contrast, our appetizers and desserts were excellent.
Service: The service here is very good, but not as good as the service at Emeril's Orlando. The atmosphere at dinner seems a little rushed with servers hurriedly buzzing all about the restaurant and constantly swarming over your table. The atmosphere is a bit more relaxed during lunch. This service approach, which has multiple servers working together, works much better at the CityWalk location then it does here. The hurried atmosphere aside, we must say that servers do go out of there way to ensure an excellent experience. Problems are dispatched quickly and professionally, care is taken at the start of every meal to find out if there are any food allergies or concerns prior to ordering. When there are dietary restrictions, the kitchen staff will go to great lengths to prepare a meal to your liking.
Cost: For dinner, expect appetizers to run between $8 and $14, and entree's between $20 and $40. At lunch, the cost of an entree is a bit better, ranging between $14 and $25.
Our Recommendation: We suggest that if you're going to try Tchoup Chop, go for lunch rather than dinner. The prices are a bit more reasonable, and the restaurant is not as likely to be as busy as it will be later in the day. If you're visiting during peak periods, when crowds are likely to be heavy, we regrettably must recommend that you skip Tchoup Chop all together. The cost of a meal here is too high for the inconsistency of the kitchen when the restaurant is busy.