This weekend was the kick-off of the 17-day Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure. This year they’ve included 3 new Marketplaces featuring food from different areas of Asia, and I felt it was my duty to try as many as possible and share my thoughts with you.
The Marketplaces begin in front of The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and continue to the Paradise Gardens area. Most of the booths featured a couple savory dishes, a sweet dish, a specialty drink or two.
The first booth I passed was Korea, with featured Kimchi Bokkeumbap (Kimchi-vegetable fried rice) [$6.00], Yachae Mandu (Steamed vegetable dumplings with sesame-garlic soy sauce) [$6.50], and Yaksik (Sweet rice and dried fruit cake) [$4.50]. To drink, they were serving Banana Milk [$4.25], Black Beer Stout [$8.00], and Hit Pale Lager [$8.25]. I ordered the fried rice, rice and dried fruit cake, and the banana milk.
I enjoyed the flavor of the fried rice, but proportionally, there were too many vegetables and not enough rice. It just wasn’t what I’m used to. The dessert was very interesting. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and had raisins and other dried fruits in it. I really enjoyed the banana milk. It was simple, but refreshing, and worked well with all the Asian dishes I tried.
Next up was China, which was serving up Xiao Long Bao (Pork soup dumplings with black vinegar and ginger) [$7.00], Luo Bo Gao (Turnip cake with sausage and oyster sauce) [$6.50], Egg Tart [$4.25], and Five Spice Peanut Brittle [$4.50]. To wash it down, you could get Passion Fruit Green Ice Tea with Lychee Popping Pearls [$4.50] or a Tsingtao Lager [$8.00]. You had the option to add a glowing lotus flower to the tea for an extra $5.00. I chose the pork soup dumplings and the egg tart.
The pork soup dumplings were excellent! The flavor of the pork paired with the black vinegar work so well together. I could eat an entire plate of them. My only issue was the way they were served. The three dumplings were stuck together in the bottom of the bowl, so when I tried to pick them up, they broke open. Still delicious!
The egg tart was a surprise. The Cast Member tried to explain it to me, but even then I didn’t know what to expect. It’s almost like a creme brulee…in a tart; slightly sweet with a great texture. Not the best crust in the world, but still.
The final booth on the path to Paradise Gardens is Vietnam which had Bang Chung (Sticky rice cake with pork) [$6.50], Chao Tom Voi Nuoc Cham Chua Ngot (Sugar cane shrimp skewer with sweet and sour sauce) [$7.00], and Purple Sweet Potato Macaron [$5.25]. They also had Ca Phe Da (Vietnamese iced coffee) [$4.25]. I got the shrimp skewers and the macaron.
The shrimp was the biggest disappointment of the day. I expected whole shrimp, but this was chopped up, breaded shrimp. The sauce was a problem as well. Not only wasn’t it a “sweet and sour” sauce, but they stored the sauces in the refrigerator….cold breaded mushy shrimp…sorry…no.
The macaron was good. Other than a bit of mealy potato texture, you really wouldn’t know that this was sweet potato. This dessert was fun and would be great to share.
As you’ve probably already guessed, my favorite booth was China and I WILL be returning there. I might stop by Korea again for that banana milk to wash down the dumplings.
For more of my thoughts, check out this video that I filmed along the way.
The Lunar New Year Celebration continues through February 5, 2017.