Anyone that read my around the world series already knows that my favorite restaurant in Epcot is Nine Dragons. I’m not sure if that happened because we’re normally able to sneak in without a reservation or because it’s one of the few places that my picky hubby will eat without complaint. I can tell you that over all the years we’ve never had a single bad meal or experience at this awesome restaurant! I’ve been surprised to read mixed reviews on this hidden gem, so I thought it was time to shine some light on one of our favorite dining spots.
So what do you do if you’re wondering around World Showcase Lagoon and find yourself starving but didn’t make that dining reservation six months in advance? Well, one option is to grab some quick service grub or a snack at one of the many seasonal – but practically becoming permanent – dining booths around the world. However, if you feel like spoiling yourself stop by the podium at Nine Dragons. While I’m sure this isn’t always the case, I can tell you we’ve never been turned away. (Of course, we’ve never tried on New Year’s Eve or an equally insane day in the parks). In most cases we’ve been seated in a matter of minutes.
Our most recent experience we wandered (thanks Ashley) up to check availability just a little before 6pm on a busy Saturday. I had looked on the My Magic Experience App and been told they were booked solid, but we decided to try anyway. We scored a table after a very short wait, but we were sandwiched between two other tables. The guests on our left ordered a bottle of wine, and the wine bucket stand was literally touching each of our tables. It was tight! Of course, we didn’t mind getting to know our neighbors, but if that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, we’ve had better luck when we’ve made advance reservations.
Even though the table arrangements can be interesting, the decor is really lovely! There are large windows all along the side facing the World Showcase Lagoon and lantern light fixtures throughout the dining room. The restaurant is split into two smaller rooms by a carved wood and glass divider. Even just stopping in the front door, there’s a large dragon etched in glass and other ornate dragons if you look for them!
The service at this restaurant can only be compared to what you’d receive on a cruise ship. Our glasses never quite make it to empty without being whisked away and replaced. One course is promptly followed by the next, normally with a manager stopping by to make sure we’re enjoying our meal. I once dropped my fork and was given another before I could even pick the first one up off the floor. After a long day at work we joke that Nine Dragons is a mini vacation!
But what about the food? I can tell you that short of heading off-property to Celebration to visit Thai Thani, this is our favorite local spot for Chinese. Though we’ve tried most of the menu, we always start off with the Pot Stickers pictured above. Other favorites include: Shrimp and Taro Lollipops and Shrimp and Chicken Egg Rolls. The appetizer trio is also excellent if you’re traveling with a larger group.
For entrees we’ve tried several of the options, but, even though everything is excellent, we keep coming back to the same favorites. My go-to dish is the Peppery Shrimp with Lightly Spiced Spinach Noodles. Every time I order it I’m warned that it’s spicy, but I’ve never found it to be too hot. There’s just the right amount of kick to balance out the spinach noodles. My hubby loves the Honey-Sesame Chicken. I’ve tried it, but it’s just too sweet to be my favorite. Not to mention I normally prefer to skip fried food. If neither of these look exciting you, I also really like the Fragrant Five-Spiced Fish. Of course, you can find Chinese food staples like Kung Pao Chicken and Fried Rice if you aren’t feeling too adventurous.
Knowing that I was planning a review for you guys, I went ahead and sampled most of the desserts. The things I do for you! 😉 We skipped the Coconut Rice Pudding because neither one of us is a fan of rice pudding. Pictured are the Chinese Ginger Cake, Strawberry-Red Bean Ice Cream, and Caramel-Ginger Ice Cream. If there’s one area that Nine Dragons lacks a bit, it’s the dessert department. The ginger cake is light and flavorful, but with so many other options around the World Showcase, I would give it a miss. The ice cream flavors are yummy with the sweet red bean and spicy caramel ginger, but at the end of the day it’s just ice cream. We normally skip dessert when we eat here and just pick something else out from another country. However, if you’re on the dining plan and dessert is included, the caramel ginger ice cream is my favorite of the group.
Have you tried Nine Dragons? What did you think? What restaurant would you pick if you could eat anywhere in Disney World? Let us know in the comments below! As always, thanks so much for reading and commenting!