Review: China 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

China Marketplace Epcot Food Wine Festival

China returns in its usual waterside spot across from the China Pavilion Proper.

China Marketplace Epcot Food Wine Festival

The Spicy Chicken sees a new presentation and the BaiJoe Punch replaces last year’s Strawberry Plum Wine Cooler.

Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce – $6.50

Beijing Roasted Duck Hoisin Sauce Epcot Food Wine Festival 2016

The duck is sweet and salty covered in the crystallized hoisin sauce and the vegetables and onion provide a nice crunch in between the soft, chewy, largely flavorless steamed bun. It’s on the expensive side, but the flavors are unique and I think duck presented in this way is somewhat rare, which potentially raises the value. It’s an interesting bite.

Taste: 8/10

Value: 7/10

Spicy Chicken Bao Bun – $5.25

China has served this same chicken in a number of different ways over the last 18 months or so. Above is this year’s Food and Wine Festival edition.

Sichuan Spicy Chicken Epcot China Food Wine Festival

Last year’s version arrived with three more pieces of chicken, but no bao bun.

And at Lotus Blossom Cafe, you can order this plate of Sichuan Chicken for $10.95 year-round.

Anyway, the chicken already suffers from being on the dry side as it’s defrosted, overcooked, and spiced with a rub rather than sauce. Adding the bun makes each bite even dryer, to the point where you’re probably going to want to order a beverage to wash everything down. A lot of items show promise, but this isn’t one of them.

Taste: 1/10

Value: 1/10

Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles – $5.75

Garlic Shrimp Noodles China Epcot Food Wine Festival

The noodles are largely soft, rubbery, and slightly spicy underneath four small pan-fried shrimp. There’s a decent amount of heft to the dish, but it’s largely one dimensional and the shrimp don’t have a ton of flavor on their own. I think the shrimp taco in Mexico is a little more interesting, but this is a relatively filling dish that would do a nice job of soaking up the alcohol from the relatively strong drinks served here.

Taste: 4/10

Value: 5/10

Chicken Pot Stickers – $4

Chicken Potstickers China Epcot Food Wine Pavilion

Four dollars buys you two chicken potstickers, which I would have trouble differentiating from the big bag of Ling Lings I buy at Costco. They are expertly pan-fried and delicious, but it’s about a dollar per bite and the flavors are straightforward.

Taste: 6/10

Value: 3/10

Tsingtao Lager – $3.50

Tsingtao Beer China Epcot Food Wine Festival

Store price: 8 cents/ounce

Festival price: 58 cents

ABV: Not enough

Value: Ugh

The website weeps. Defenders would point out that Tsingtao is the #2 best selling beer in the world, but Clorox is the #2 best selling bleach and I’m not sure I want to drink that either. If for some reason you have a stroke and accidentally order six ounces of 4.8% American adjunct lager, you can expect a largely skunky light beer backed up by stale grains. Or like the other standard lagers, it’s refreshing on a hot afternoon. It is at least less expensive than most other options.

$8.95 Happy Peach with Dekuyper Peach Liqueur and Myers’s Dark Rum and $10.50 Ritzy Lychee with Courvoisier Cognac VS and Smirnoff Vodka

Happy Peach and Ritzy Lychee Epcot Disney World Food Wine Festival China

China’s drinks end up being among the strongest at the Festival thanks to what are usually heavy pours. You might scope out who is doing the mixing and see how it’s looking before committing as the non-alcoholic juices are poured first with the alcohol following, so you can get a better idea about how much is actually poured versus the many pre-mixed concoctions. While these two drinks are very different in appearance and ingredients, they both taste similar with the alcohol masked nicely with fruit flavors. Both are recommended.

Taste: 7/10

Value: 7/10

Kung Fu Punch with Smirnoff Vodka and Bols Triple Sec – $8.95

Kung Fu Punch China Epcot Food Wine Festival

The Kung Fu Punch is a refreshing, sweet, orange-flavored drink with a healthy pour of vodka on top. It’s always one of the smarter cocktail buys at the Festival.

Taste: 8/10

Value: 8/10

BaiJoe Punch with Chinese Bai Jui Spirit, Lychee, Coconut and Pineapple Juice – $10.50

This is perhaps the most refreshing cocktail at the Festival, tasting faintly of pineapple, lychee, and sweet coconut while still maintaining a surprisingly thin, easy-to-sip consistency. It packs a considerable punch as well. Definitely worth trying and quite a bit different than anything else you’ll find at the Festival or around World Showcase during the rest of the year.

Overall, I like to stop by China for drinks more than food, but anything other than the Spicy Chicken should be just fine.

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