Disney is serving Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean-inspired food at six festival marketplaces and several restaurants throughout the park for Lunar New Year. So for lunch, Laurie and I started with the following.
From left, we have:
Red Spice Fried Chicken Bites were our clear favorite here, offering a sweet initial flavor that quickly gave way to a spicy kick. It's probably not all that hot for a spice lover, but for us it was just enough heat that we needed a sip of water after, but not more than that.
We also liked the returning Char Siu bao, with its tasty pork and pickled veggies. Beyond that, the Mandarin Mousse Cake was lovely, with an impressive mirror glaze encasing vanilla cake and that mousse, along with a dollop of clementine compote. There's a nice little sugar-cookie base under there, too.
We divided on the Yuja-Ade, which Laurie found refreshing and not too sweet, but tasted to me just enough like laundry detergent smells to keep me from wanting more than the couple sips I had before making that connection.
The dumplings were fine, though the black garlic sauce was a bit spicer than we expected. (The Pork and Shrimp Wontons we wanted to try were not available.) The Gochujang drizzle on the elote offered a welcomed change-up but didn't really add much to what was a pretty good elote.
At first bite, neither of us like the pizza bao, which Laurie said tasted "cheap." But then we tried it without the accompanying (cold) marinara sauce, and we both liked the buns much better that way. Still, we'd rather eat more of the chicken bites or the Char Siu.
Disney is again selling a Sip and Savor pass that can be used at the marketplaces, as well as for tasting sizes at the Paradise Garden Grill. The cost this year is $45, or $42 for Magic Key holders. With six coupons, that works out to $7.50 per coupon, or $7 for Magic Key holders.
If you want to save, and not waste, money with the Sip and Savor pass, do not use it for any items that cost less than $7.50, or $7 if you are Magic Key. Decide what interests you from the food stands first, then based on that, you can decide whether Sip and Savor is a deal for you. Remember that multiple people can share items bought with the same Sip and Savor pass. You're just trading coupons for food. Also note that you cannot use the Sip and Savor pass with Mobile Order at Paradise Garden Grill. But you can order items from all six marketplaces from any one marketplace, then just use your receipt to go and pick up from the other marketplaces.
After walking off lunch over the afternoon, for dinner, we headed over to the Paradise Garden Grill to try its Lunar New Year menu.
Let's start with the obvious here, the Sweet and Sour Whole Fish [$27.99 - serves two] with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables.
Above that, we have several "Sip and Savor Pass"-sized options, going from right to left:
Larger sizes of the entrees are available for purchase as well, but you can't use your pass coupons for those.
The plant-based Kimchi Bokkeumbap was our favorite item of the day, with a great mix of flavors and textures, topped with delightful sweet and sour tofu. I liked the barbecue chicken well eno.ugh, but it wasn't as flavorful as the chicken we'd had at lunch. The Bánh Mì is probably better at full size, as the tasting size had just too much bread versus fillings. The bread was fine, but the tasty pork belly just got lost here. The boba was a boba, the ubiquitous after-school drink for sugar- and caffeine-starved teenagers throughout Southern California.
That leaves us the fish, which, well, requires some work. Someone at Disney stocked the plastic knife dispenser at Paradise Garden Grill with plastic spoons instead, which doomed any chance we might have had to consume this fish with any sense of grace and elegance. Nope, we ended up just filleting this thing with our bare - and then very sticky - hands, so that we could get to the delicious white fish within. Fortunately, the accompanying veggies retained enough of the sweet and sour sauce that hadn't made it on to our hands that we could drag the fish through it for an extra boost of flavor.
Watch us eat all this stuff here:
While you eat, Disney's Lunar New Year offers entertainment at Paradise Gardens and Sonoma Terrace as well as the Hurry Home preshow for the nightly World of Color spectacular, and Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession across the park.
Lunar New Year continues daily through February 15 at Disney California Adventure. For discounts on multi-day tickets, including a three-day deal for local residents, please see our partner's Disneyland tickets page.
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