The Painted Panda should look familiar to anyone that’s visited any of the other 47 Festivals that Epcot hosts every year, but if not, you’ll find it waterside across from the rest of the Pavilion.
On the food front, only the mysterious Crystal Mooncake returns and on the drink front, only the Fortune Cookie survived.
I’m sure we will all miss last year’s $5 scoop of rice.
Dragon and Phoenix: Spicy Sautéed Shrimp with Spinach Noodles – $10.50
Every Epcot Festival, there’s always one dish that sticks out as being the most egregiously-overpriced and I think this is it, even with the number of shrimp rising from the two served earlier in the day to the three that you see here. Said shrimp are fine – lightly breaded and crispy, but with no sauce to speak of outside of the mildly spicy sweet and sour that separates them from the noodles, there isn’t a whole lot of flavor going on. The pile of soft noodles carries a mild spinach flavor with a little bit of heat from all of the pepper flakes. Nine Dragons, the Pavilion’s underrated table service restaurant, serves a larger portion of the same noodles as a side for $5. There’s no way the remaining shrimp are worth $6.50. This would come recommended at a price point closer to $7, but remains a “good” use of a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan. What you do receive tastes pretty good, at least.
Plum Infused Cherry Tomatoes – $7.50
I’m not sure why China is all about tomatoes this year; it’s not something that we’ve seen during past Festivals. You’ll receive about a half dozen of the soft, red, spongy, ice cold morsels that are pumped full of sweet plum juice. My estimation is that taste here is more subjective than usual – a lot of people are not going to enjoy raw, skinned tomatoes with this squishy mouthfeel – but it’s interesting to give them a try. Unfortunately, $7.50 for about six little tomatoes is a rough price point. With money or snack credits to spare, you might still give them a whirl.
Crystal Mooncake with Fruit Filling, garnished with Toasted Coconut – $9.75
This one is a bit strange – a tough gelatinous exterior hides the goopy, custard-y, sweet, rice-heavy mess inside. It’s sort of a mochi situation that you probably don’t want to find yourself in. It’s also at least four dollars overpriced. Nobody was interested in a second bite and I think I regret the first. Only order one if you have snack credits to spare and find yourself curious if the items that I rate so poorly actually taste bad.
“Panda” Bubble Tea: Classic Milk Tea with Black and White Boba Pearls – $6.95
If you’ve purchased a drink like this in China over the last year or so, then you might have seen it served in this precious Panda cup. While I usually like China’s Milk Teas, this one fell flat due to the odd texture of the squishy boba balls. You may have better luck than we did and the drink is appropriately sweet and creamy. I wouldn’t order another one with these particular balls, though.
Jasmine Draft Beer – $5
This Orlando Brewing Company beer, that’s just as skunkily below average as the majority of the rest of their offerings, debuted at the 2018 Food and Wine Festival. I’m guessing that the flavor is supposed to balance hops with a floral effervescence, but it tastes largely of peat moss and vermiculite. You might try it if you’re into the unique, but there are better beers around.
Fortune Cookie: ByeJoe Dragon Fire, Amaretto, Coconut and Pineapple – $10.50
I’m glad that there’s not a spirit called “ByeJosh” as I have heard a number of times from women. This is a refreshing drink that reminded me a bit of Horchata – creamy, milky, and sweet with coconut and pineapple in the place of cinnamon. It’s actually pretty good, even if it doesn’t pack much of a punch.
Kung Fu Punch: Vodka, Triple Sec – $9
This is a refreshing, sweet, orange-flavored drink with a healthy pour of vodka on top. It returns from its usual spot on the Food and Wine Festival menu and is one of the better cocktail values available.
Tomato Plum Cocktail: Plum Wine with Plum Infused Tomatoes – $12.50
That’s it on the left. For five more dollars than the non-alcoholic version, you’ll receive the same tomatoes swimming in a puddle of plum wine, which adds even more of a distinct, sweet plum flavor. It’s potentially worth trying if you’re a plum aficionado or find yourself curious, but I don’t think most people will enjoy it enough to spend the money. With four or five interested people, you can probably extract about $3 worth of value from giving it a sip, eating a tomato, and laughing about how much you hate it. That’s basically my life.
I’d make a stop for the Fortune Cookie drink, but that may be it unless you’re swimming in Disney Dining Plan snack credits.