This year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival starts Friday! We continue our countdown by looking back at the 2012 event. Today I’m taking a look at two of the booths that I am most likely to overlook: China and Singapore.
It’s not that I dislike the cuisine of the Far East, it’s just that we’ve always found the offerings at these two booths to be pretty mundane in themselves, but worse, fairly similar to each other.
First up is China. We actually tried all of the food items from that Marketplace last year, which is a lot more attention than we usually give it. First up is the Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun.
I love steamed bāozi, so I thought this one would be right up my alley. The steamed bun was chewy and was a good vehicle for the beef, but I thought it was unfortunate that the beef was absolutely smothered in a sauce that was unidentifiable to us other than its small amount of heat. I think the beef would benefit more from a good, spicy marinade than it does from the sauce. There were a few veggies tucked in to the bun as well, but nothing like what others had seen early in the 2012 Festival. For comparison, see Eating WDW’s picture of the same dish from the Festival’s opening weekend. Our photo above is from the last week of the Festival.
The Pork Potstickers were average. I presume these are the same potstickers that are served year-round at the Lotus Blossom Café in the China pavilion. I wouldn’t say there was anything remarkable about them other than the fact that I was pleasantly surprised that they were not as greasy as I feared they might be. The pork filling was fine, though the overall gummy, chewy texture of the dough was a little off-putting. The savior here was the sauce, which had a little bit of a gingery bite. This item has changed to Chicken Potstickers for the 2013 Festival. I may give it another chance, but I doubt it will be any more remarkable with an even more bland filling.
Our favorite item from the China Marketplace was easily the Chicken Satay with Spiced Peanut Sauce and Pickled Vegetables. The thigh meat chicken was moist with a nice sear on the outside, and the peanut sauce was a good complimentary flavor. I liked the pickled carrot, but left the mango for Danny.
Another item that was mostly left for Danny was the Mango Tapioca Pudding. Essentially this was just a normal tapioca pudding with a bit of brightly colored gel on top with some mango chunks in it. Thoroughly unremarkable. The drink pictured was the Sunny Guava with Coconut Rum. We’ve never liked any of the disappointingly sweet mixed drinks from the China booth. As Danny observed, “These drinks always sound like they’re going to be refreshing, but they’re always too syrupy.” The Happy Lychee, shown below, has the same issue. We ordered the drink at the 2011 Festival and would not repeat that mistake.
BONUS ITEM: Curry Chicken Pocket from the Joy of Tea Stand
Better than any of the items on China’s Food & Wine Festival menu is a snack that can be purchased year-round at the Joy of Tea Stand. The Curry Chicken Pocket is a meal-sized portion of curry chicken in a delicious puff pastry crust cooked golden brown and sprinkled with sesame seeds. We split the dish between the two of us and found it a flavorful, satisfying snack. If nothing on China’s menu appeals to you, be sure to check out this favorite.
The Singapore booth got a lot less attention from us this year.
We tried the Singapore Sling in 2011 and deemed it the worst drink either of us has ever had in Epcot. This includes the Beverly offered at Club Cool. It’s an incredibly strong drink with no discernible flavor other than sinus-searing cheap gin. Hendrick’s is often described as a “gin for people who don’t like gin.” As people who do like gin, Hendrick’s tastes more like charcoal-filtered vodka than the kind of gins that we enjoy. At 88 proof, it also has a slightly higher alcohol content than most gins.
The Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rise and “Singa” Sauce was another miss for us. Mahi Mahi is a bland fish in general that lends itself well to flavoring from other ingredients. Unfortunately, the “Singa” sauce — whatever that is — just didn’t bring anything to the party. Similarly, the jasmine rice was a bore. I was also surprised to see that it was even stickier than the sushi rice used at the Japan Marketplace.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, the Mahi Mahi will be back on the 2013 menu and you can try it for yourself. I’ll be seeking redemption from the Singpore booth via the Lemongrass Chicken Curry.
What do you think of the past China and Singapore booths? What do you look forward to this year?