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.
Szechuan Spicy Red-braised Beef Shank over Rice — $8
It’s hard to justify eight dollars for a dish that’s at least 80% simple white rice and fat, the latter of which seemed to cling to the beef like its life depended on it. The sauce was surprisingly good with a deliciously-spicy tang, but I think the price is too high for what boils down to mall quality Chinese. Lotus Blossom, the Pavilion’s quick service, offers similar-quality food in much, much larger portions for just two or three dollars more.
House-made Crab and Cheese Wontons — $6
These are about 90% crispy wonton wrapper, which may be par for the course with this variety of Rangoon. With three pinwheels arriving to an order, there may be some value here as the Crab and Cheese that is present is a creamy, satisfying mixture that isn’t particularly fishy. I don’t think I would return to them specifically, but there are worse values.
Vegetable Spring Rolls – $4.50
The Spring Rolls enjoy a mildly spicy, creamy sauce drizzled over the top of the two very crispy rolls. They’re packed full of vegetables and there’s no grease to speak of, but they’ve always tasted too bland for me. It’s probably a personal taste thing and this is a very good vegetarian option for those in the mood.
“Panda” Bubble Tea: Classic Milk Tea with Black and White Bobas — $6.95
This is a cold and refreshing drink that’s creamy without being heavy and sweet without being overwhelming. It’s a smart choice on a warmer afternoon.
Jasmine Draft Beer — $5
While it sounds a bit exotic, this is another lousy Orlando Brewing Company beer that’s just as skunkily below average as the majority of the rest of their offerings. I’m guessing that the flavor is supposed to balance hops with a floral effervescence, but it tastes largely of peat moss and vermiculite. That may be poignantly on-theme though.
Pirates of the China Sea: Dark Rum, Peach Syrup, and Piña Colada Mix — $9.25
This ended up being thicker, sweeter, and more syrupy than I personally like, but fans of Dark Rum drinks should be in for a bit of a treat. I would have liked more coconut from the Piña Colada Mix. It ends up being a much larger portion than most of the cocktails served by the Disney-operated kiosks, but there isn’t a lot masking the flavors of the cheap rum.
Kung Fu Punch: Vodka, Triple Sec, Mango and Orange Juice – $10
I was a bit disappointed to see that China was mixing the drinks in advance of people ordering them. In past years, your friendly cast member would pour the booze on as you watched and they were typically generous with their pours. That seems to be less true this year, in addition to the fact that they’re using the cheapest vodka known to man instead of the Smirnoff of yesteryear. The price is also up $1.25 year-over-year. Nonetheless, the drink remains nice and fruity with a light mango presence and a considerable amount of booze. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst year to pick one up. I still order two most times I walk past.
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.
Overall, my favorite spot to grab Festival drinks has taken a turn in the wrong direction and the new food items aren’t showstoppers, but there’s still some decent stuff worth making a stop to try. The Kung Fu Punch and the Spring Rolls and/or Crab and Cheese Wontons are the direction I’d go.