The Lotus Blossom Cafe
Wondrous China may be famous for some of its national treasures and natural landmarks (the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the Yangte River) and for its mystical and ancient heritage. Yet it is surely also amazingly well known for its incredible and much-loved cuisine – certainly a favorite worldwide and one not unfamiliar to most Disney guests. And Epcot’s China offers a nicely authentic array of such Asian dishes right inside its understated Lotus Blossom Cafe, a quiet little treasure inside a theme park chock full of tempting yet varied international dishes.
The Lotus Blossom Cafe is tucked inside the pavilion across from “Reflections of China”, the circle-vision 360 movie exploring the wonder and history of this glorious nation.
There are two indoor seating areas inside the quaint cafe: one is a little more cramped and shares a common wall with the full service Nine Dragons. It is sparsely decorated in green tile and not as themed as the second area. The other “open-air” dining room is bathed in warm colors: splashes of red and orange tile and thatched lattice accents are offset by light tan faux bamboo. Funky geometric lantern-lights seem to add a modern edge to more traditional accents, merging old and new world China. Strains of traditional music waft through the air at a melodious level. There are clear unobstructed views of the pavilion’s grand Temple and festive shops. The setting is as inviting as it gets. Subtle yet lively.
The menu is on an overhead scrolling board, switching periodically from appetizer and beverage selections to the entree choices. The cast members were all smiles taking orders and even offering undecided guests printed menus with colorful photos of the numbered entree options.
There is nothing startling about the menu, and the familiarity and simplicity of many of the items may be comforting. Egg rolls, shrimp fried rice, vegetarian stir fry, orange chicken to name a few. Some of the offerings like the sesame chicken salad may be a little more creative.
Chinese beer (Tsing Tao), Plum wine and hot Chinese tea are available to order as are thick and frosty-looking mango, iced peach and strawberry smoothies.
Guests who had already received their orders and were headed to find a table carried trays brimming with Chinese favorites. Each dish looked tempting and deliciously colorful.
We opted to try the pot stickers as a starter with the orange chicken and the beef noodle soup bowl as our mail course selections.
The pot stickers came three in an order and were nicely browned. Chocked with ground pork, they were thick and scrumptious especially when dipped in the accompanying nicely zesty sesame sauce. A lovely starter and exceptionally good for a quick service location.
The orange chicken was plump and plentiful with a tangy yet sweet citrus glaze. Accompanied by an enormous mound of fluffy white rice, the portion was ample and completely satisfying. There was enough to be shared and sampled. The beef noodle bowl rivaled anything that is served in the finest Asian restaurants. The broth was perfectly seasoned with a very subtle scallion flavor but not overpowering as it let the tender pieces of lightly seasoned beef reign supreme, The round noodles tasted freshly made and were of a perfect texture and consistency. Again, the serving size was impressive and much larger than you may expect from a quick service stop. I wanted to savor every bite and every last drop of the hot soup but was actually stuffed by the time I made my way to the bottom of the bowl.
There is a limited dessert menu (traditional ginger and red bean ice creams). Had I been prepared for the size of the entrees or the dip in temperature the night of my visit, I would have certainly sampled one of the two.
One thing very noticeable and nicely noteworthy about Lotus Blossom Cafe was how quickly the staff cleaned tables as guests finished their meals and exited the dining area. They wasted no time in clearing trays and stray cups and wiping down tables and chairs. They were incredibly efficient in keeping the area clean and tidy. Although the dining area was uncrowded, the staff was sure to leave no unsightly mess anywhere and although there was no demand for tables, the cast members cleared each table with swift efficiency.
Lotus Blossom Cafe is a delight on all levels. From the food to the staff to the lovely views of the pavilion, it is a definite and huge asset to the already very popular pavilion.
I predict Good Fortune or at least Good Food to all who enter. It is a pearl among dozens of Disney quick service locations.
FOOD: Wonderful. I hadn’t dined at Nine Dragons but would imagine the food here rivals what is served at the fancier full service restaurant. Plentiful portions and lovely authentic flavors. There may not be a huge array of choices but what it available is well worth the visit
ATMOSPHERE: Despite it being moderately crowded, the acoustics of the dining area keep the noise level at a minimum, Lovely views of the landmarks of the colorful pavilion
SERVICE: Cast members seemed proud of their restaurant and worked diligently and efficiently to keep guests satisfied and the area clean and tidy.
TIPS: While not any more expensive than other Disney quick service locales, Lotus Blossom is clearly a gem because of its serving sizes. Opt for the larger dining area to the right of the ordering queues. It is more festive and roomier.