The Shanghai Kitchen is located in China’s usual Festival spot across from the Pavilion.
The Pork & Vegetable Egg Rolls, Mongolian Beef Bao Bun, and Celebration Barbecue Pork return from last year at the same time that the Kitchen adds the Spicy Mala Chicken. The Sweetened Bubble Milk Tea and Jasmine Beer are holdovers from Food and Wine and the Plum Wine is also available again.
Despite almost everything returning, we still ordered the menu.
Pork and Vegetable Egg Rolls – $4.25
$4.25 buys you two sizable, piping-hot egg rolls stuffed with spicy pork and crunchy vegetables. The lack of a sauce is a big bummer; some sort of chili-hoisin sweet and sour sauce or something would go a long way. Still, these are larger than usual and a filling snack.
Heck, these tiny vegetarian spring rolls cost more money during Flower and Garden. They’re less than half as much food for more money.
Mongolian Beef Bao Bun and a Fortune Cookie – $6.50
Last year, I called this “one of the most egregious entries into this year’s Holiday Festival. The price either needs to be halved or the dish needs a second bun to make this anywhere close to a worthy purchase. Avoid.”
Instead of increasing the quality or the quantity of food offered, as Sapphire did over in Morocco, China instead elected to increase the price by 50 cents and serve the exact same thing. On the plus side, the beef was tenderer and more flavorful this year, but you’re still talking about four measly strips of beef served up in a tough, flavorless bao bun. You could do worse for your money, but not by much.
Celebration Barbecue Pork with Steamed Rice and a Fortune Cookie – $7.50
This was significantly better than the Bao, but I’m not sure that it presents a lot of value unless you’ve never seen this variety of barbecue pork, which is a staple of most strip mall Chinese restaurants. It’s about four slices of char siu pork in a thick, ketchup-heavy sauce with some five spice powder and hoisin that’s sweetened up with brown sugar. Last year, it was served as a “bowl” for six dollars, though no bowl was actually involved. This year, it’s up $1.50 in price and there’s still no bowl, though at least you won’t be promised one in the description. For almost eight bucks, I think you can do a lot better – if only the sauce was served alongside the Egg Rolls.
Spicy Mala Chicken with Steamed Rice and a Fortune Cookie – $7.50
“Spicy” doesn’t usually mean much in Disney-speak, but this is the rare exception, with the chicken sporting a rub heavy on peppery heat in addition to a hefty portion of peppers and onions mixed in. But just because something might be spicy doesn’t intrinsically make it a good value and I think that may still be the case here, though the flavors are more interesting than usual. Still, we’re talking about eight bites of chicken for about eight dollars with the side of basic white rice and what I’m certain is the cheapest fortune cookie available for purchase. This is the best item at the Kitchen, but I’m not in a big hurry to return to it.
Sweetened Bubble Milk Tea: Mango Flavored Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearls – $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, but it might not be the best choice if the high is under 60 degrees.
Jasmine Draft Beer – $4.25
As we learned during the Food and Wine Festival, the Pavilion’s Jasmine Beer is not sourced from anywhere in Asia.
Instead, it’s 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.
If you’re looking for a more interesting beer in the area, try the Foo Beer from the Joy of Tea stand to the left of the China Marketplace.
Overall, there really isn’t anything here that absolutely demands a purchase, though anyone that enjoys basic egg rolls will like what they receive. The other items are overpriced – $8 is too much to pay for a couple bites of meat alongside a small scoop of white rice and a packaged fortune cookie. Fortunately, we’ve seen some better options elsewhere.