Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2012 – South Korea

I was a little bummed when I saw the changes coming to the South Korea booth for 2013’s Food & Wine Festival, so I knew that my next look back at 2012 had to be at that booth, and possibly the best item at last year’s festival.  We’ll miss you, Lettuce Wrap.

South Korea Festival Marketplace Booth

South Korea Festival Marketplace Booth

With the news that this years menu will include a Kimchi Dog, I’m afraid that Danny’s favorite item the last several years running, the Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw, may be unceremoniously ousted from the 2013 menu.  It will be our loss.  Kimchi dogs sound like something South Korea would serve at a competitive eating event, not the food they would want representing their nation in a showcase of international cuisine.  I may just have to start making bulgogi-style meats at home so that we can still get our lettuce wrap fix.

2012 South Korea Booth Menu

2012 South Korea Booth Menu

The South Korea booth’s menu has changed slightly every year since opening in 2010, and up until last year, has always featured two solid food items and three adult beverages ranging from iffy to totally ignored by us.  The Lettuce Wrap is the staple, and the second food item, which was barbecue short rib with kimchi in 2010 and bulgogi beef with kimchi in 2011, was replaced with the mung bean pancake with shrimp and kimchi sauce in 2012.  The Bohae Bokbunjajoo raspberry rice wine and Jinro Chamisul Soju returned from the 2010 menu, and a new soju fruit slush made its debut.

Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp and Kimchi Sauce, Bohae Bokbunjajoo (Black Raspberry Rice Wine)

Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp and Kimchi Sauce, Bohae Bokbunjajoo (Black Raspberry Rice Wine)

The interesting thing about the Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp and Kimchi Sauce is that traditionally, the lettuce wrap has been the cheaper of Korea’s two food items, with the second dish being the pricier of the two.  The meat and kimchi dishes in 2010 and 2011 were both $4.25.  For 2012, however, the Mung Bean Pancake was the food offering with the lower price tag at just $3.00.  I suppose you get what you pay for, because I didn’t think this pancake was very special at all.  The “kimchi” sauce tasted nothing like kimchi.  It was more like a watery pepper sauce.  Some people compared it to Sriracha, but I think that’s generous because it implies that the sauce had a discernible flavor.  It didn’t.  Other than packing a moderate amount of heat, it really had nothing to offer at all.  The pancake itself was equally bland, with a too-sweet, starchy flavor from the mung beans, and tiny shrimp that were a little mushy and reminded me of the dehydrated guys you would find in a Cup O Noodles.  It would be really nice if this were the item replaced by the Kimchi Dog in 2013.  Fingers are crossed.

Soju and Bokbunjajoo Facts - Click to Enlarge

Soju and Bokbunjajoo Facts – Click to Enlarge

The Bohae Bokbunjajoo black raspberry rice wine was pretty good, however.  I enjoy some fruity reds, so it was a no-brainer for me.  Danny, typically does not, but even he liked this.  We agreed that if the lettuce wraps are back next year, we’ll definitely order whatever raspberry wine is on the menu as well, as they are usually a recommended pairing.  You can click the photo above to see some facts about the Bohae Bokbunjajoo and the Jinro Chamisul Soju.

Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw

Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw

The Lettuce Wrap was a hit for us again, as expected.  I think we had at least two of these this year, which is fewer than we’ve had during previous years’ festivals, but it’s still a favorite.  The pork is cooked wonderfully, with a spice profile that has just a hint of sweetness.  The kimchi isn’t the hottest around, but still has a well-spiced flavor.  The lettuce is crisp and refreshing, which makes it an excellent vehicle for the other ingredients.  The sauce on top is mayonnaise-based and probably isn’t completely necessary.  This isn’t a dish that needs food lube, but the flavors do all work well together.  It’s a bit different than the sesame mayo that was served in 2010 and 2011, as you can see in the below photos:

Lettuce Wrap in 2011

Lettuce Wrap in 2011

Despite the tweak, the lettuce wrap remains one of our top five dishes of the Festival.  We sincerely hope it returns this year.

Lettuce Wrap in 2010

Lettuce Wrap in 2010

What are your favorite dishes from the South Korea booth?  What would you like to see change for 2013?

5 Comments

Filed under Disney Dining, Food & Wine, Review, Walt Disney World

5 Responses to Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2012 – South Korea

  1. We also enjoyed the lettuce wrap in years past. Truthfully, we’ve been less and less impressed with the food booths each year. I’m really hoping that some of them have fantastic offerings this year.
    We’ve talked about trying to eat everything at every booth… Well, we tried that during the Flower and Garden Festival and didn’t quite make it (and there are fewer booths!).

    • I think 2011 was a high point for us, but we’ve only been attending since 2006. I’m excited for some of the new items, but in truth, none of the new dishes that have been announced so far pique my interest more than my old favorites.

      We’ve never even attempted to try everything from each booth, but we do make sure that we earn our passport stamps at each booth. Some (like Singapore, ugh) are hard to commit to completing.

      • I know that autumn is a good time from Disney’s perspective to do the Food & Wine Festival… although frankly, it’s usually very hot during the day.
        It would be nice if they’d realize that heat and humidity are likely to be an issue and serve more street-food and hot-weather food. The idea of perogi with sour cream sauce when it’s over 80 degrees with 70% humidity is not appealing.
        The Singapore booth has been a disappointment in general. Just not good.

        • Agreed. We tend to visit at the tail end of the festival when the weather is a little cooler and drier. It wouldn’t surprise me if Epcot eventually moved the festival to a slower season like mid-January through late February, which would actually be ok weather-wise. That might put it a little too close to Flower & Garden, though.

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