Review: Japan Hokkaido Holiday Kitchen at Epcot Festival of the Holidays 2017

Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan and the first largest Holiday Kitchen across from the Japan Pavilion.

Each item is a unique take on past Festival flavors with the exception of the Sapporo, which is a beer that we’ve seen plenty of times before.

There’s some amount of confusion on the various menus that appear at each Holiday Kitchen, but all food and non-alcoholic items should be exchangeable for a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan, even if the symbol doesn’t appear on one of the menus posted around the kiosk. Here, the Cinnamon Mochi Cake is good for a snack credit as noted on the first, larger menu. The symbol is missing on the menu at the register.

Also, these chopsticks are for sale for $4 per set, which isn’t something that you’ll see until arriving at the menu in front of the register.

Anyway…here’s the two food items along with the Sake Cocktail.

New Year Celebration Soba: Buckwheat Soba Noodle with Spinach in Hot Soup with Shrimp Tempura or Chicken – $6.50

The Soba can apparently be ordered with either Shrimp Tempura or Chicken or with one piece of each if that’s the direction that you want to take it. This is one of the largest portions at this year’s Holiday Festival and a good value because of it. I admit that I don’t really get Shrimp Tempura Udon as the broth immediately inundates the battered shrimp, that would otherwise be crunchy and creates a soggy, mushy mess instead. Maybe that’s the desired effect, but I’ll take my Shrimp Tempura with a side of sweet and sour sauce for easy dipping. Plus, you have to dig the shrimp out, remove the tail, and flick it up into your chef’s hat because you won’t have anywhere else to put it. With all of that said, the broth is salty and flavorful for those that aren’t picky and there’s a ton of tender wheat soba noodles inside the bowl, which is served piping hot. The spinach adds a little bit of sour roughage that helps cut the saltiness a tad.

Keep in mind that Katsura Grill, the Pavilion’s quick service, serves similar noodle bowls all year for around $12 each. I preferred the thickness of the soba noodles to the thinner version served at Katsura – they held up better. But it’s similar soup otherwise.

Taste: 5/10

Value: 8/10

Cinnamon Mochi Cake: Cinnamon and Coconut Cake – $4.50

The texture here is going to be a little out there for most people, I think. Each Mochi Cake square is incredibly gelatinous with a strong coconut milk flavor and a thick gel-like consistency. It’s virtually impossible to enjoy the flavors of the cinnamon, strawberry, cream, and powdered sugar before realizing just what it is that you’ve put in your mouth. I didn’t really mind trying it as there’s six large pieces to a $4.50 order, but nobody in our group was interested in a second bite. I’ve enjoyed little mochi rice balls and such elsewhere, but this was not working for me, personally. You may have better luck.

Taste: A 2/10 from me.

Value: ? out of 10. It seems like a decent portion for the price, assuming you can stomach a second bite.

Strawberry Nigori Sake Cocktail: Semi-sweet Unfiltered Sake with Puréed Strawberry – $7

This seemed to consist of mostly strawberry puree, which at least “felt” fresh, but it was also incredibly thick and sweet with virtually no flavor from the sake. As far as cloying, fruity drinks that don’t pack much of a punch go, this one is just fine. But they’re also a dime a dozen at Epcot.

Iced Strawberry Milk – Strawberry Milk with Japanese Calpico Yogurt (Non-Jlcoholic) – $5

I really enjoyed this, despite the fact that fermented lactic acid bacterium is one of the three main ingredients in the Calpico. It was incredibly refreshing with a natural strawberry flavor and a smoothie-like texture sweetened up a little bit by the whipped cream on top. It was also a pretty large portion for five bucks. I’d say it’s one of the best non-alcoholic beverages from the last few Festivals.

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