Hanami materializes in the same spot across from the Japan Pavilion for the 2018 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.
The Udon returns with a new name and the same description, while the Teriyaki Salmon is brand new. The beverages are all new with the exception of the Dasani.
I gave last year’s Ahi Tuna Poke a 1/10 on taste and value, so I’m glad to see that one is no longer with us.
The three current food items with the Pineapple Cocktail to the rear.
Frushi: Fresh Pineapple, Strawberry and Melon rolled with Raspberry Coconut Rice, sprinkled with Toasted Coconut and Whipped Cream on the side – $5.95
One of the most photographed items year in and year out, Frushi shines brightly with vibrant colors and fresh fruit flavors. The strawberry, cantaloupe, and pineapple add a burst of fruit juice to the cool coconut and the whipped cream sweetens the pot further if that’s the direction you want to go. At two bucks a piece, you’re paying actual nigiri prices for a few cents worth of diced fruit, but I’m told that it’s light and fun even if I am unable to personally feel those emotions.
Taste: ? for you. 4/10 for me.
Value: ? for you. 3/10 for me.
Ginger Beef Yaki Udon: Thin-sliced Beef, Onions and Noodles tossed on the grill with Soy and Ginger – $6.50
While it sports a new name, we’ve seen this same dish served each of the last two years. Above is this year’s.
Last year’s, perhaps with a fuller boat.
And the year before, when the colors pop a little better against the black plate.
I’m not a big fan of this one – the beef tastes generically of soy and is soft, stringy, and incredibly fatty. The soft, slippery noodles underneath offer a similar structure and taste generically of salt. The onions, which you would hope would add a little crunch, are limp in the tray after sitting in a warmer for a while. The sprinkle of ginger strands are a clear afterthought. “China Wok” at your local outlet mall food court serves the exact same thing. The portion also “felt” smaller than past years. It’s not the worst item at the Festival, but I don’t see how it could stand out.
Teriyaki Salmon with Furikake Seasoned Brown Rice – $6.75
This was really good – the salmon was prepared well with a flaky texture and a rich flavor. The teriyaki glaze was perfect, adding a salty soy sweetness to the fish. The furikake seasoning, made primarily of dried fish, sesame seeds, and chopped seaweed, further enhances the nutty quality of the brown rice, adding a little bit of salt and a little bit of sugar along with a satisfying crunch. I’m glad they went the extra mile with the rice, which makes this an interesting dish overall, even if most of us have enjoyed salmon in the past. The best item here.
Pineapple Momo Sake Cocktail – $6.50
This tall, refreshing cocktail tastes strongly of pineapple, but is made less thick and pulpy than your typical pineapple-based drink. It doesn’t pack much of a punch, but it also doesn’t cost enough that it needs to. You might add it to an order.
Karatamba “Dry Wave” Sake – $8.00
This is a sweet, mild, fruity sake with a dry finish and the lingering flavors of melon and plum. It pairs best with the salmon.
Sapporo Draft Beer – $4.25
Japan switches between a variety of standard Japanese macro lagers, this year returning back to “Sapporo Premium” after offering the more-interesting “Sapporo Black” last year. It’s a thin, malty beer with a mild sweetness and a distinctly grainy flavor. I wouldn’t hold anything against you if you’re ordering four of these at $3.50 a pop at your local Japanese steakhouse, but it’s an expensive proposition here. If you’re thinking about it, pick up a 6-pack for $8 at the store instead.
We both know you’re picking up the frushi. You might consider adding the cocktail and the salmon to the order. While neither is particularly memorable, they’re both executed well and I’d order them again.