Shanghai Review: 2018 Epcot Holidays Festival

The Shanghai booth at this year’s Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is located in World Showcase’s China pavilion. In this review, we’ll share photos of every snack and dessert item on the menu, and offer our food reviews & tasting notes.

Perhaps it’s because Chinese food is fairly ubiquitous in the real world, but we feel Walt Disney World’s offerings in the China pavilion never get a fair shake. Lotus Blossom is universally reviled, Nine Dragons is a running joke among some fans, and Joy of Tea is often overlooked.

We disagree with all of those perspectives (most pointedly with regard to Nine Dragons) and were thus heartened to find a lengthy line at the Shanghai Holiday Kitchen. Well, perhaps “heartened” is the wrong word, as it meant a 15 minute wait in the blazing sun just to order, but it was nice to see the China pavilion getting some love, especially given that these are not exactly holiday staples familiar to most Walt Disney World guests…

Here’s what’s on the food menu at the Shanghai Holiday Kitchen for 2018:

  • Pork and Vegetable Egg Rolls (Kid-Approved)
  • Mongolian Beef Bao Bun and a Fortune Cookie
  • Celebration Barbecue Pork with Steamed Rice and a Fortune Cookie
  • Spicy Mala Chicken with Steamed Rice and a Fortune Cookie
  • Sweetened Bubble Milk Tea: Mango Flavored Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearls

Now our photos and reviews of each item…

Pork and Vegetable Egg Rolls – Standard issue egg rolls. Halfway decent flavor and not overly greasy, but otherwise I don’t think there’s a ton to say about these.

Unless what you’re looking for from this event is, quite narrowly, “egg rolls,” you can do better ordering something else. You can undoubtedly find egg rolls that are just as good from your local grocer’s frozen foods aisle.

Mongolian Beef Bao Bun – There was a relatively generous amount of well-seasoned and appropriately tender beef here, which is the main reason to order this.

Unfortunately, the bao was rubbery and dense. Not sure we were unlucky with the preparation or how long it was sitting under the heat lamp, but I ended up eating the meat by itself. Either way, it’s not worth the gamble.

Celebration Barbecue Pork – The glaze here was sweeter than expected, and I’m going to go (not so far) out on a limb and guess that it used some of the same ingredients as orange chicken glaze–minus the orange.

This is far from a knock–the Celebration BBQ Pork is definitely the best dish at the Shanghai booth. The portion of pork was generous, the meat was tender, and that glaze provided unexpectedly good flavor. It was sweet, without being overbearingly so. A highly recommended dish, and an excellent option for Disney Dining Plan snack credits.

Spicy Mala Chicken – Look at the comments section of any Epcot restaurant on this site and you will undoubtedly find complaints of the cuisine being dumbed-down or Americanized. This often revolves around spices, which are reduced or eliminated outright to make dishes more universally appealing.

Someone forgot to send that memo to the Shanghai booth, which is bringing the heat with the Spicy Mala Chicken. A common critic of Epcot’s (lack of) spiciness, Sarah loaded her first bite of chicken with peppers and about had a coughing fit. It’s a really good dish with a solid level of spiciness, but I’d be shocked if this dish isn’t toned down at some point. Or, perhaps Epcot is finally ready for some fire. 

Sweetened Bubble Milk Tea – The sweetness was so pronounced here that it was almost difficult to taste the mango. This sugary quality isn’t particularly unknown with boba, so that’s not a huge knock against it.

Actually, I quite enjoyed this. Splitting is recommended, as it’s large and the perfect recipe for a sugar rush (and crash) if you drink it all yourself.

Her’s the Shanghai alcohol menu:

  • Jasmine Beer
  • Plum Wine

Overall, the Shanghai Holiday Kitchen is something of a mixed bag. Nothing here is downright bad, and a few of the options are pretty good, but there’s also nothing that screams “must buy” either. In the end, we like having these choices from China if only because they provide variety and a nice contrast to the other good items at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, an overwhelming number of which are from European tradition.

Check out our Food Guide to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays if you want to see and read more about every Holiday Marketplace this year, what to eat & avoid, and other tips for making the most of the culinary side of the event. As this event isn’t just about the cuisine, you’ll also want to read our full Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Tips & Tricks post for info about the non-culinary side of the festivities. That covers Candlelight Processional, the Illuminations: Peace on Earth tag, Holiday Storytellers, and more!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the Shanghai Holiday Kitchen? Have you tried any of the food items at this booth? What did you think of them? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of the foods or bubble tea? What about the various alcoholic drinks here? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!


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