China has been hitting it out of the park at Epcot’s festivals lately so I could not wait to get over there during Artful Epcot to see what they’d come up with this time.
The Painted Panda kitchen offers four food items this season – one savory, two sweet, and one somewhere in between.
- Crystal Mooncake with Fruit Filling and garnished with Toasted Coconut ($9.75)
This is without question one of the absolute best things available at Artful Epcot. I loved it last year and, while the presentation is a bit less this year as it’s not served with an orchid, it’s still beautiful and absolutely delicious. (And they’ve added other labor intensive items, so I can’t fault them for dropping the flower.)
This is the consistency of a very soft mochi on the outside, so I’m guessing it’s a sort of rice dough, and it’s filled with ripe chunks of mango that explode in your mouth. Without question my favorite dessert of the festival and likely one of my favorite overall foods as well.
- Dragon and Phoenix: Spicy Sautéed Shrimp with Spinach Noodles ($10.50)
These were simple and good. At least my serving actually wasn’t very spicy at all. I liked that the shrimp weren’t heavily battered – just a bit of crunch. The accompanying sauce is a sort of sweet and sour (or duck?) sauce that I used lightly for a little sweetness. The noodles were cooked well and served cool rather than warm, which was surprising but quite good.
- Plum-infused Cherry Tomatoes ($7.50)
So setting aside the fact that the price tag on these is a little absurd, they actually are really, really good – which surprised me because I was having trouble imagining how these tastes would meld together. They’re peeled and sweet as can be without tasting candied. Definitely an interesting thing to experience and absolutely worth checking out.
- Dragon’s Beard Candy ($7.00) (Available instead of the Sugar Painting)
I’ve been fascinated by dragon’s beard candy – which is a sort of hand pulled million strand cotton candy – since going down the rabbit hole of watching videos of its being made months ago. The chef is right there in the booth making it before your eyes and it’s quite cool to watch the stretching and looping process. The resulting threads are rolled together and filled with crushed peanuts. Full disclosure, I’m not a huge lover of intense peanut tastes so this was a little too potent for me, but watching it be made was fascinating and whether or not you love the resulting candy is purely a matter of taste.
- Fortune Cookie: ByeJoe Spirit, Amaretto, Coconut and Pineapple ($10.50)
This was…potent. Why are the China booth drinks always so strong?? Not that I’m complaining from a bang for your buck perspective…but this tasted like a creamy drink with a healthy dose of Scotch in the bottom. Probably not my favorite thing at the festival.
All in all, I was so impressed with this booth and the effort behind it. And honestly I could eat that gorgeous moon cake three times a day and never tire of it.
So with a fortune and a thumbs up…
I give you what will surely be the first of many visits to:
The Painted Panda. Check!