I didn’t cover the Food & Wine Festival last year because we visited at the tail end of it. By the time we got home from our wonderful 10-night vacation, there was only one day left of the Festival. But now that we’re starting to see details emerge for the 2013 Festival, my excitement is renewed, and I’m enjoying looking back to last year’s visit as I look forward to this year’s.
One of our favorite Festival Marketplace booths at the International Food & Wine Festival is Japan. Located on the World Showcase Lagoon just in front of the beautiful Mitsukoshi Department Store, this booth is a festival staple, and the menu was completely revamped for 2012.
We were able to try all of the menu that we wanted over the several days we spent at the Festival. We skipped the California Roll because HOW BORING! Why is this the only menu item that remains a staple year after year?
Hands-down, our favorite item of the festival was the Spicy Hand Roll. It’s a long sushi roll with minced tuna and salmon mixed with a spicy soy and sesame sauce. It’s topped with the mysteriously named Kazan Volcano Sauce. Could this be a Chef Yoshie creation? It tastes good enough to have been invented by her!
The roll is pictured with the Sake Strawberry Mist. Danny liked it, but I thought it tasted a little weird. I tasted a strong sake presence, though other friends did not. It’s a very pretty drink, though, isn’t it?
For those of you who are new to my Food & Wine posts, I should mention the Epcot Vinylmation. I make sure I always have a Vinylmation with me during the Festival to show scale of the food samples, and also for fun, because who doesn’t love to play with their food? In 2011, the Swedish Chef cracked us up, borking all over the place. This Epcot guy was more subdued, but he sure brightens up my photos.
The Karaage Hand Roll was another new sushi item this year. This one contains tempura chicken breast and spicy mayo. Fried stuff isn’t my favorite, nor are non-fish maki, but it was still pretty tasty, even if it wasn’t my favorite. If it returns to the menu next year, I’ll probably skip it in favor of another tuna and salmon roll.
Possibly the biggest disappointment of the new Japan booth was the Sukiyaki Beef Pan. The roll was bland, as was the pulled ribeye. For $4.50, we’re definitely skipping this one next year. We liked the “Shirakabe Gura” Tokubetsu Junmai sake, though! I’m not a sake connoisseur, or even a wine enthusiast, really. I do know I generally prefer drier sakes. We chose this one because it’s medium-dry, but not the driest. It was delicious, but probably would have been better with the hand rolls than it was with the beef.
While the Japan booth remains one of our favorites, there were a few misses for us at the 2012 festival. What are your favorite past items from the Japan booth? What do you hope to see there this year?