Lotus House graces us with its presence again in the same waterside spot across from the China Pavilion.
Only one food item from last year returns in the form of the Vegetable Spring Rolls.
It’s mildly surprising to see the loss of the popular Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries – I actually don’t have any teeth left after sampling a set of these each of the last couple of years. But they were very popular. With dentists.
I doubt anybody will miss the Lettuce Wrap, though it does make for a nice picture.
That’s enough with the nostalgia. I don’t think there’s any room for that at Walt Disney World.
Spicy Meatballs with Crispy Tofu – $5
This is a strange dish – the tofu in the title seems to insinuate that it’s vegetarian, but the meatballs are actually made with pork and encased in a gummy layer of flavorless tofu that’s topped with a thin, off-putting soy glaze. There was also so much moisture inside the meatballs that cutting into them was akin to breaking a water balloon. We may have to give China some credit for not going with something more mainstream, but a General Tso’s Bao Bun or Pepper Beef would sell far better.
These were gross.
Fried Chicken Dumplings with Peanut Sauce – $6.25
I’m a big potstickers guy and I was happy to see a crispy option added to the menu after “suffering” through years of the boiled variety.
And they were pretty good, though I thought the filling was a little on the chintzy side and would have preferred spiced pork to chicken. But the creamy peanut sauce helped brighten the dumplings up with familiar flavors of soy, sugar, and garlic with just a little bit of a tangy aftertaste. In the scope of the Festival, $5 would be a fair ask, but you can decide for yourself whether being $1.25 overpriced keeps you moving on. They’re a pretty “safe” bet.
Vegetable Spring Rolls – $4.50
And this year’s Spring Rolls with the mildly spicy, creamy sauce drizzled over the top of the very crispy rolls. These are packed full of vegetables and there’s no grease to speak of, but they’ve always been too bland for me. It’s probably a personal taste thing and this is a very good vegetarian option for those in the mood. It’s far more bites than either of the other items for less money.
Kung Fu Punch: Vodka, Triple Sec, Mango and Orange Juice – $8.75
Pour quality varies a bit from cast member to cast member, but China often does an admirable job of hooking you up and I would visit this booth over any of the others for their Kung Fu Punch, which is an ice cold, sweet, light mango and orange juice drink topped with Smirnoff and triple sec. You might eyeball the drink window and see what the pours are looking like before committing. It should be just one cast member doing the honors.
BaiJoe Punch: Chinese Bai Jiu Spirit, Lychee, Coconut and Pineapple Juice – $11
This refreshing cocktail moves over from the Food and Wine 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. It’s on the expensive side, but it’s also served in a much larger cup than the majority of the Outdoor Kitchens and comes recommended. Very different.
Plum Wine Cooler – $8.75
We’ve seen a lot of different flavors come to the Plum Wine Coolers over the years. They’re a good choice if you’re looking for a refreshing cocktail that’s easy on the alcohol.
Tsingtao Lager – $3.50
Every year I write that every year I write the same review for Tsingtao. It does taste better at Epcot with some spicy food than it would out of a bottle at home, but far more interesting options abound. It will satisfy the Budweiser crowd.
I would also mention that for the first time in the seven years that I’ve been covering these Festivals, the Joy of Tea Stand offers a draft option in the Foo Beer.
It’s not great, but it’s also not a bottle of Tsingtao. This is the stand directly to the left of the kiosk.
Unless something significant changes with the spicy meat-uh-balls, I can’t see many people enjoying the burst of water and slime that comes with taking a bite out of them. The potstickers are overpriced, but satisfying, and the spring rolls are one of the better vegetarian items that aren’t a dessert or salad. Mixed drinks are above average too – the Kung Fu Punch is just about as much alcohol as you can get for your money at the Festival and the BaiJoe Punch is intriguing as well. Move on to the Joy of Tea if you’re looking for a Budweiser-type lager.
We’ll push forward.