We’ve had some pretty cold days this winter, and cold days mean hot drinks. Consequently, Kim and I have gotten into tea again. One of our favorite places to get tea, The Orchid Court Lounge, was closed the last time we tried visiting. After a little research, we discovered the Orchid Lounge was just closed for refurbishment and is back open. We immediately planned a date. Thursday after dinner, we set out for the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal for a late weeknight snack and tea.
It was after 8pm when we arrived at CityWalk, so parking was free. Be advised, though, that they do stop all incoming guests to offer $5 premium parking. CityWalk itself wasn’t very busy, although there was a steady flow of people leaving the parks. The walkway to get to the resorts from CityWalk is alongside Margaritaville across from the Lone Palm outdoor bar. We headed right toward Universal Studios and walked around the lake to get some extra steps in on the way to the hotel. No matter how many people are at the parks or CityWalk, the walk to the hotels will always be a lot more manageable. We headed down the path alongside the water towards the Royal Pacific. The foliage is beautiful, and it’s mostly quiet, aside from the Hulk roaring as the coaster launches in the distance.
There was no one around as we walked up to the romantically lit hotel entrance. The lush exterior sets the stage for the getaway theme that continues inside. We headed in excited to see the new Orchid Court. In the lobby, it actually looks like a lot of refurbishments and changes have been made. It still has the same Royal Pacific feel, but things have been moved around a bit. We were relieved to see the same signage in the usual spot at the entrance to the old lounge area. We picked one of the relaxed seating areas with a small table and sat down.
As I looked around, I noticed a lot of changes. Orchid Court seems somewhat more condensed with a bar at the center and different styled seating in the surrounding areas. Where we sat was almost like sitting in a home study or a small space for entertaining. There are bookshelves and lamps and various types of non-traditional tables and chairs.
There is an area right beside these that has more of a viewing party setup with multiple large wall TV’s. These were all playing sports, but I didn’t notice the volume if there was any at all. Behind this area, along the windows, are booths with low lighting for a romantic dining experience. Then in the middle is the large bar that has a formal beach style to it, but is split in two between a standard bar and a sushi bar.
The sushi bar looks like the usual experience where patrons can watch their sushi being made at eye level before eating. The motif in these different areas come together to present a formal Pacific getaway feel. I do miss the quaintness of the old Lounge, but this style seems more mainstream and accommodating.
There were multiple servers and bartenders, and although the bar wasn’t busy, it took a while for us to be noticed. I’m guessing this is because each of them has their own previously mentioned area, and we somehow fell between the cracks. Our server was amiable, though, and attentive after that. We initially just came for the tea, but the sushi menu is extensive and convincing. We ended up choosing the Blueberry Merlot and Citrus Mint teas, as they were out of Ginger Lemongrass, and the Japanese Scallop Sashimi. The server gave us multiple sauce options for the sashimi in addition to the wasabi and ginger that it’s served with. I didn’t have a preference but elected to try the spicy mayo.
The Sushi Menu is pretty extensive. As much as we enjoy the peace and the setting for tea, Orchid Court is a legitimate sushi spot. The prices range from $8-$17 dollars a roll with the option for some larger combinations as well. The menu is strictly seafood sushi based though, and not much else. No kids menu, burgers, or sweets here although they do have Ramune Japanese soda, which may be entertaining to the little ones if you’re stopping by.
The bar here is not just for show. Not only do they have full liquor, including Japanese Whisky, and craft beer, but they have an extensive sake menu as well. If you want to stick with the Pacific theme, want something on draft, or want something local, the Orchid Court Lounge now has it all. It is impressive from both a restaurant and a lobby bar standpoint. Draft beer will run you $8, which is low for a theme park, and they offer .5 oz tastings of the dozen Japanese whiskeys available. If you don’t want to stick around, you can also order your drink to go and head to another area of the beautiful hotel such as Royal Pacific Resort’s Nooks. This visit, we came for tea, but the Lounge has become a formidable drinking destination as well.
Our tea came out reasonably quickly and was still very hot. The presentation is terrific and adds a visual to the experience. The little touches, such as the individual honey jar, make you feel like you’re being pampered and that your patronage is appreciated. The teas themselves are Tea Forte, and the flavors we tried were both delicious. I have never tasted anything like the Blueberry Merlot and recommend it to fruit, juice, and wine lovers. The sashimi came out shortly afterward. I noticed that the scallops were either cut or an extra piece was added to make four pieces, since it was apparent we were sharing. This was an unnecessary and unexpected touch that additionally helped make up for the delay when we arrived. The scallops were good, but the spicy mayo was even better. I will choose something that requires mayo when I order food there in the future and look forward to trying the other sauces.
As we were finishing up our teas, a loud party came in from the pool. They were half-dressed and more than half in the bag. After realizing we had been lucky not encountering any of these groups so far, we decided to head out. I wanted to look through some of the exciting books on the shelves, but the mood had already changed. Next time I think I’ll grab one as soon as I sit down.
We made our way out of the hotel and out to the walkway to CityWalk. The trip is just right to walk off a big sushi meal and an excellent way to end an evening out. I think the new Lounge will bring in a lot more traffic and will be a little less quiet. The different seating areas still lend for the opportunity to have a romantic evening, as long as the other areas cooperate. I can’t see myself going to Orchid Court to watch a game or do shots, but they have greatly expanded their drink options. Overall I give the new Orchid Court Lounge at the Royal Pacific Resort 4 out 5 pieces of sashimi. I recommend it to those looking for sushi, unusual beer, or whisky and maybe even a peaceful escape.