Out of all the possible rope drop opportunities, the website would rank Lotus Blossom Cafe inside the China Pavilion pretty low on the list of priorities. And while I would not ordinarily admit this, maybe I’m wrong?
Because here we are right at 11am, which is when the majority of the World Showcase opens. There’s a rope ahead just before reaching Nine Dragons that a swarm of people are waiting behind.
Rev those engines cause this makes the Frozen Fracas look like the I don’t know where I’m going with this.
Do you ever get really tired of cropping the same quick service menu over and over again because the picture needs to be up to date and the vegetarian stir fry now has carrots in it and now you’re ready to order it but you know you took a picture of the same menu a couple of days earlier with the carrots in the stir fry and already cropped that one so you don’t want to take another picture just to crop it again even though it will be more convenient because then when you want to use the pictures of the food you’ll have the menu pictures right next to it in the same folder but you can just find the previously cropped picture in another folder so you saved 30 seconds in cropping by not taking another picture but then you forgot which day you took the previous menu pictures and you have to go back and find them but all of your folders are just called “Epcot” and it could be in any of them so you spend 45 minutes looking for a specific menu picture that you’re sure you saw earlier in the day in a certain folder but somehow it’s not there anymore? Because sometimes that happens to me.
This is what it replaces. The Orange Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice, and Sesame Chicken Salad all survive, while the Beef Noodle gets the Mongolian treatment, the Hong Kong Style Curries are out, and the Sichuan Spicy Chicken is a new addition.
Speaking of lists, and when is Liam Neeson not, Lotus Blossom Cafe is not one you would typically find on most people’s “must do Disney dining.”
But one of the potential positives(?) of the homogenization of much of Disney’s culinary landscape is that many of the historical laggards are now up to par. Granted I reviewed this Sesame Chicken Salad more positively less than a year ago when it was $7.95 instead of $9.99, but it’s still fresh greens with lightly breaded, crispy chicken and a salad dressing with a nice blend of ginger, soy, and peanut flavors with the sweetness from the duck sauce on top of the chicken adding another layer of flavor.
Currently, that means it’s just a dollar more expensive than nearby La Cantina’s salad, which is almost all lettuce and no protein.
And the Beef Noodle Soup Bowl was a ton of food, though Lotus Blossom now offers a slightly different take.
This Sichuan Spicy Chicken with Seasoned Rice is a relatively new addition, first appearing around mid-June.
The $10.49 entree arrives with about as much chicken as Disney’s fried nuggets, only these are very lightly sauteed and instead of your typical, viscous sauce, arrive with a rub of mostly chilies, onions, and garlic amidst a thin glaze. We appreciated the lightness of the chicken, each bite of which had a nice exterior crispiness, but the flavors weren’t particularly spicy for a dish that leads with the adjective. The sichuan peppercorn does lend a unique, almost citrus flavor that helps ease a bit of the spice on the back end. Overall, the biggest problem with ours was the dryness of the chicken, which is something that’s usually helped by the thicker sauces offered in this kind of cuisine. We would have appreciated more pepper too.
I’m not sure where the “seasoned” in “seasoned rice” comes from as this is seemingly Lotus Blossom’s standard white rice.
One thing you’ll notice immediately upon being handed one of Lotus Blossom’s beef dishes is its weight, which is particularly evident with the $10.95 Beef Noodle – Mongolian Style.
The pan-fried beef has a little bit of spice mixed in with the peppers and onions, but again the overall flavor is on the bland side, probably to ease returns for being too spicy. Since Lotus Blossom is one of the least busy quick services at Epcot and the kitchen is relatively expansive, cooking entrees to order would go a long way in increasing quality and delivering a product that meets guests’ tastes. There’s obviously nothing wrong with serving a mild dish if that’s what a guest wants to eat.
While there were perhaps a pound of noodles underneath a considerable amount of beef, they were limp and didn’t have a lot of flavor on their own. If you’re trying to soak up the alcohol from the Food and Wine Festival or a drinking expedition around the World then there is potentially no better choice though. This is a TON of food. Like eight Food and Wine Festival portions worth that would each set you back $5.25.
We tried the $9.99 Orange Chicken with Steamed Rice to see if anything had changed on an entree that has been here forever. And the answer is no; it’s still ten pieces of battered and fried chicken breast with a sweet, thick citrus sauce poured over the top. It’s higher quality than most mall Chinese food, but you probably have a favorite back home that does it a lot better.
And that is perhaps the rub with Lotus Blossom, which is a quick service that I think is better than most people think it is. But out of all the potentially interesting options, and with Food/Wine/Flower/Garden dotting the promenade six months out of the year, a visit to fast food Chinese may not be the best play. But the Chinese quick service does have a lot going for it, mainly that it’s probably the most efficient of any quick service on property, is rarely busy, has a pleasant dedicated seating area, serves large portions, and entrees are relatively inexpensive compared to what’s around it. If a standard Disney quick service hamburger is going to run you $13-$16 then these entrees between $10-$11 are a bargain.
But I would reassert that skipping the appetizers is smart. You can do a lot better than three greasy potstickers or two egg rolls for $5+.
Overall, Lotus Blossom Cafe is a good choice for a no fuss meal, particularly if you’re in the area, famished, looking for a fast meal, and not in the mood for Mexican food. Your other options then are basically the sandwiches/meatballs at Kringla and then a long walk into Germany for frankfurters. Plan accordingly.
We’ll take a visit to what I think is a better choice in Nine Dragons Cafe next.