Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Restaurant Review - Nine Dragons, Epcot (in China in World Showcase), Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL

My favorite Disney theme park is Epcot and one of the main reasons is the food especially all the different cuisines available in the World Showcase section of the park. And, as a Disney Cast member, I can pop in to Epcot just to eat lunch if I want. On a recent weekend, however, the occasion was the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival. Grandma M wanted to check out the foliage and the boys and I wanted to accompany her.

As soon as we got there, my thoughts already turned to where we could eat lunch. Since we didn't have a dining reservation, I thought the best bet would be a counter service eatery. I had heard that the Lotus Blossom Cafe in China had just updated their menu and I wanted to check it out. So, after looking at topiaries and riding on the newly updated Mexico boat ride with the Three Caballeros (see how I cleverly turn this into an ad for Disney - my company would be so proud!), we headed to China. The Lotus Blossom Cafe has some snazzy new digital menu boards so we stopped to review the new offerings. I was a little surprised that there was only one kids' meal offering - Beijing Barbeque Drumstick served with white rice and applesauce. Gee, just a drumstick? Not exactly what I was looking for in Chinese food. Also, Grandma M admitted that nothing really looked good to her either on the menu. Okay, change of plans! Grandma M asked about the full-service Nine Dragons restaurant next door. I checked my watch - it had just turned noon and they were just opening - we should be able to get a table. We went inside and we seated right away (yeah!).

Now, I have a confession. I have eaten at Nine Dragons once before - about 10 years ago. I was not impressed at the time as I thought it was overpriced food that tasted like the take-out Chinese restaurant in any neighborhood. But I was willing to give it another try.

The boys busied themselves with coloring on the kids menus while Grandma M and I reviewed the main menu. Our server came by to take our drink orders - I ordered a lemonade for BB and a chocolate milk for LB, and I decided to go for the Jasmine Green Iced Tea (it was very good - very floral tasting). The kids menu really had two options - Fried Rice and Spring Roll for $4.75 and Sweet and Sour Chicken for $5.75 (both included drinks and ice cream for dessert). I asked LB what he wanted and he said he wasn't hungry. Okay, I guess he'll be eating off of my meal. BB said he wanted the Kid's Delight which is the Sweet and Sour Chicken plus pork Potstickers for $8.50. I wasn't sure he would be able to finish all that but he insisted so I agreed he could order that. Most of the adult lunch entrees were in the $15 range, with beef, chicken, seafood, and pork offerings. However, I noticed there was also a Nine Dragons Lunch Sampler for Two which came with a choice of Hot-and-Sour or Wonton soup, and then Canton Pepper Beef, Honey Sesame Chicken, and Stir-Fry Seasonal Vegetables, all for $29.99. Both Grandma M and I agreed it was the best deal plus it gave us a sampling of a beef and chicken dish. When our server returned with our drinks, we placed our order.

We had ended up with a great table at the front of the restaurant so the boys were able to watch the tourists walk by and that seemed to occupy them pretty well. Shortly afterwards, our soups arrived. I have to say, this was one of the best wonton soups I have ever tasted. It had two big wontons stuffed with pork and the broth was very tasty flavored with sprigs of cilantro. When our food arrived, LB immediately spoke up and announced he wanted everything (I guess he was hungry after all). We got an extra plate for him and I cut up some chicken and beef for him and gave him a big scoop of steamed rice. BB also declared he wanted to try everything as well so we ended up sharing the whole meal, including his Sweet and Sour Chicken. Everything was really delicious, nothing spicy at all which is typical of the mostly Cantonese food on the menu. The Sesame Chicken was crispy and sweet, the beef in the Canton Pepper Beef was very tender in a flavorful brown sauce, and the Stir-Fry Vegetables tasted very fresh. BB's Sweet and Sour Chicken was served with the sauce on the side which allowed to boys to dip the chicken pieces and eat them like chicken nuggets. The server then came by to ask BB what kind of ice cream he wanted... chocolate? vanilla? Red Bean? Caramel Ginger? When he choose chocolate, I challenged him to try something new like the Red Bean or the Caramel Ginger - he can get chocolate ice cream anywhere! He changed it to Caramel Ginger (good boy!). It was delicious as well. The caramel smoothed out the flavor of the ginger so that everyone liked it. However, I ended up eating all the big chewy pieces of caramelized ginger in the ice cream because the boys and Grandma M thought they were "yucky". That's okay, more for me! I have definitely changed my mind about Nine Dragons and it will be added back in to my possible restaurant selections when we return to Epcot.


lucette said...

I followed you here from Food Blog Skool--and couldn't resist commenting! I like your blog colors.
Another thought about comments--one reason might be because you're so locally focused. The readers most likely to comment would be Orlandoites (Orlandoers?)--so that would reduce the percentage of your readers who would comment.

SteamyKitchen said...

We were there at Epcot during the Flower fest too - we ate at the Mexican restaurant on the outside back patio. It was perfect - the kids ran around and we had a great table right in front of the water.

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