We continue from Earth Eats, apparently ignoring the fact that noodles…like most things…come from the Earth. But I suppose everything can’t be served at Earth Eats and if Earth Eats was the name of every booth, we’d have a problem. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d have a problem if I couldn’t located the Spicy Pho booth in July.
- Noodle Exchange
- Traditional Spicy Vietnamese Beef Pho served with with Shaved Beef, Enoki Mushrooms, and Thai Basil – $5.50
- Char Siu Pork Udon with Enoki Mushrooms, Bok Choy, and Soy Pickled Egg – $5.50
- Shrimp and Coconut Curry Rice Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Thai Basil – $6.25
- A to Z Riesling – $6
- Playalinda Brewing Company Yaupon Brothers Green Tea Pale Ale – $5 for 6 ounces or $9 for 12 ounces
Noodle Exchange is new for 2021. It’s hard to say which kiosk concept it beat out, but you’d have to think it would be called something like Volcano Death and molten lava getting poured over your head was on the menu. At least as long as I’m clutching my Orange Bird sipper, which is probably the Disney equivalent of the pearl necklace. I’ve lived in Florida for eleven excruciating years and I can count the number of times I’ve been standing outside in July wishing I had a nice hot bowl of Curry Rice Pork Udon on zero fingers. I don’t see that number changing with the temperature dropping from a high of 95 in July to a high of 94.9 in August. But the year is young and the Festival is never-ending.
Noodle Exchange is located just off World Showcase Promenade and had been home to Hawaii for the last year or two. Don’t worry; Hawaii is still in the corner with that super exotic pork slider you like so much. There are plenty of tables in the area, making for a relatively convenient stop, at least so far as trying to put your hot soup down in Florida in the middle of September goes.
Traditional Spicy Vietnamese Beef Pho served with with Shaved Beef, Enoki Mushrooms, and Thai Basil – $5.50
You’d be pretty lucky to hand this to me in July and not have it immediately knocked back in your face, but the Beef Pho is the most accessible of the four noodle dishes. A light beef broth serves as a base for an assortment of goodies, including soft, skinny rice noodles and beef that probably needs to be chewy to maintain any kind of consistency in the soup. It’s either hiding behind the spoon or I forgot to take a picture of it and this is the tofu version, which is the same minus the beef. The spice comes almost exclusively from the peppers, so if you’re averse to too much heat, you can either eat around them or throw them at an unwelcome vlogger and you probably won’t even notice. You’ve probably noticed a lot of Pho restaurants popping up and there’s a good reason for it. (Rice noodles are cheap.) Disney executes the dish surprisingly well here and better than either Asian kiosk in the past several years.
If it’s over 85 degrees or you don’t prefer your hot soup outdoors in July:
If it’s over 85 degrees or you like hot soup in hot temperatures:
Char Siu Pork Udon with Enoki Mushrooms, Bok Choy, and Soy Pickled Egg – $5.50
While it may not look like it, this was a large portion for the money, packed with well-cooked, mildly soft Udon noodles, and a substantial vinegary pickled egg in the center that’s cut by the richness of the broth and the mild smoky sweetness of the pork. If I was going to share one thing from the booth, it would be this one.
Forget the temperature. Let’s go to Florida and complain it’s hot. Welcome to my life.
Shrimp and Coconut Curry Rice Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Thai Basil – $6.25
We were a bit disappointed that our dish looked to have runnier curry bases than others, but it’s still a generous portion of shrimp. The shrimp soaked up the flavors of the broth better than either of the other two dishes, with the Tofu acting like more of a repellent than a sponge. Another winner, particularly if you actually end up with a thicker curry.
Tofu Pho with Enoki Mushrooms and Thai Basil – $5.50
This is similar to our first dish, only with more of an Earth Eats vibe than “The Swanky Saucy Swine,” which we will get to. Vegetarians probably want to look in this direction, and the seared plant-based-material actually does a better job of absorbing the flavors than the meat. Beef eaters may still want to go for the texture on the meat, but this was another winner.
All four food options here are very good. Go with the ingredients that sound best given the temperatures and don’t be shy about trying a couple. You’ll be surprised how much you enjoy them. (Probably)
A to Z Riesling – $6
Disney usually pairs its spicier entrees with a sweeter Riesling to offset the pepper and that’s exactly what we’ve got going on here.
It’s your run-of-the-mill domestic Rieslings for the most part, sweet, fresh, and aromatic with a little more of a honey presence than usual backed up by pear and a healthy dose of citrus supplying a juicy, refreshing finish. Even if you “don’t like wine,” you might consider a cup as Rieslings are quite different from most other varietals in their flavor and mouthfeel. This is about a $15 bottle, so you’re not doing too great for yourself, but it does make it a better value than Steven’s pretentious red wine from that last booth. We’re not going back there.
Playalinda Brewing Company Yaupon Brothers Green Tea Pale Ale – $5 for 6 ounces or $9 for 12 ounces
The beers have generally gone up since the spring’s Flower and Garden Festival, with $5 on the 6-ounce pour and $9 on the 12-ounce, compared to $4.50 and $9, respectively, at the Flower and Garden Festival, which ended approximately 9 seconds before this one. I guess prices rise in a hurry. Playalinda doesn’t brew a lot of my favorites, which tend to be hoppier and on the bitter side, just like my personality, but the Green Tea part means you can drink it for breakfast, not that Epcot is usually open that early. This is a smooth, clean beer with a very watery green tea flavor. You might add one to a big noodle order, but I don’t think I’d drop $9 otherwise.
Shimmering Sips is up next.