We’re heading into the World Showcase at EPCOT today to try out the newly reopened Nine Dragons Restaurant!
Despite being the main sit-down dining option in the China Pavilion, Nine Dragons is a lesser-known dining spot in EPCOT. Now that it’s back open, we’re checking out the food to see if you should take time out of your EPCOT day for a meal here or just wait to get your Chinese Food fix with takeout at home!
This restaurant is located in the front of the China Pavilion, and, right now it’s not taking dining reservations, only walk-ins. We were there right when the doors opened for dinner at 4:30PM on reopening day, and we were seated right away!
The restaurant has some beautiful decor, so let’s take a look around!
The inside of the restaurant has artistic wood panels and walls at the entrance and throughout the dining rooms.
Inside the dining rooms, there are colorful hanging lights and windows with views out onto the EPCOT World Showcase.
The tables and chairs are fairly standard, with some options for booths as well. There’s one large dining room that’s sort of split into smaller rooms with wood panels so that the space feels a little more intimate.
The dark wood and delicate light fixtures make Nine Dragons feel upscale, but it does still tend to put off standard Chinese food restaurant vibes on the interior, though. It’s pretty subdued compared to more aggressively “Disney” restaurants in the area. If many folks weren’t told this was a spot in EPCOT, they’d probably assume it was a restaurant back home.
At our table, we had a cloth napkin with utensils and a QR code menu.
We were also given a full paper menu.
Speaking of menus, let’s look at what’s up for grabs here!
The menu at Nine Dragons isn’t particularly extensive with only 9 entree options right now.
The drink menu offers a small variety of wines…
…as well as non-alcoholic slushies, specialty crafted cocktails, and beer, both local and Chinese. Although the drink menu isn’t huge, it has some fun options if you’re hoping to try something a little bit different, like the Jade Beauty or Ginger Zinger cocktails!
The paper placemat under your place setting even has some Chinese characters you can learn while you wait!
The food options are somewhat limited, but there’s a good enough variety of recognizable classics and more unique entrees that most guests should be able to find something they like.
To start off, we tried one of those specialty cocktails, the Ginger Zinger! It was $12.50 and has Ginger Liqueur, Light Rum, Lemon-Lime Soda, and a Lemon Twist.
The drink was certainly ginger-based — the ginger flavor was really strong! We liked it a lot, though, and we think you will too if you like ginger. It wasn’t super sweet or bitter, just perfectly in between. Think of it like a brighter, punchier flavored ginger ale but, you know, with booze.
If you like the flavors of ginger and lemon, this is the drink for you! This was simple and refreshing.
For our appetizer, we got the Sichuan Chicken Dumplings for $13. This dish has standard chicken dumplings in a Spicy Chili Oil Sauce.
Guys — these dumplings were delicious! The sauce especially was really tasty, with a spicy and tangy flavor. It MADE this dish. And we were proud of Disney for actually having some spice in the sauce since we feel like they usually play it safe! It’s not overwhelmingly hot, but there was definitely a kick! If you’re averse to spice, obviously steer clear of this one. If you’re a fan of the spicier side of things, like us, you’ll be wishing this came in an entree-sized portion!
The dish was topped with red onions, cilantro, and carrots, but we just got right into the dumplings! (If you’re not down with cilantro, it’s easy to work around here.)
With this tangy sauce, the dumplings really were better than average ones that you could get anywhere else. And we appreciated that there was plenty of sauce to dunk in!
With the standard so high, we were ready for our entree — the Spicy Mala Happy Family! We had a Spicy Mala Beef here on one of our last visits that boasted being “numbingly spicy.” (Spoiler: it was…decently spicy. It was what we’d consider “Disney Spicy” but no numbness was to be had on our tongues. 😂) So this Mala has big shoes (literally — we were basically served a small bucket of food last time!) to fill. Let’s admire our last Mala here:
Actually, ALL Mala is technically numbingly spicy (the characters for the term “málà” literally translate to numbing spice!). In traditional Mala sauces, Sichuan pepper and peppercorns are often used which are known less for their spicy hotness and more for a compound in them that can actually cause a mild numbing sensation intended to make spicy foods more enjoyable. The more you know! 😂
This version of the Spicy Mala entree is a Beef, Chicken, Shrimp, and Vegetables Stir Fry that was $25.
There was a lot of meat and veggies in this dish, and they all had tons of flavor! That said, we still kept comparing to that giant metal wok of food we were served last time. This portion is definitely smaller and with less pageantry, but it still tasted quite nice. The three meats — chicken, shrimp, and steak — packed a punch with the delicious sauce.
We thought the shrimp were really good…
…and the steak was sliced thin and nice and tender as well!
The stir fry came with basic white rice, which we wish we had more of. We would have preferred noodles with this dish, actually. Our previous version of this dish was very onion-heavy with LOTS (almost too much) of green onions and big hunks of red onion. The veggies here are more standard stir-fry finds, which we prefered: carrots, broccoli, a bit of red onion, and snow peas.
There was plenty of meat, so if you like a hearty portion, this is a great dish for you! There’s a lot going on between all three meats and vegetables, but we liked all the flavors together. That said, the sauce is one of the star components here and we would have liked the stir-fry to be a bit more sauced so we could really have something to work with in the spicy department.
Speaking of — how spicy was this? Not too bad, really, but it definitely had a punch to it. It built as you ate it (and you need to watch for the hunks of dried peppers in the sauce!) but it wasn’t overly aggressive. That said, opt for something a bit less spice-centric if you’re not a fan of hot foods.
The Spicy Mala is a pretty classic stir fry — if you like stir-fries and are looking for a good one in Disney, you won’t be disappointed! This is actually quite a healthy meal, if you’re looking for a break from all the fried foods and cupcakes of Disney World! If you’re vegetarian or just don’t want so much meat in your meal, maybe go with the Vegetable and Tofu Stir Fry, on the menu for $18.
You know we weren’t done yet, though! We can’t forget dessert! We were excited to try the Strawberry-Red Bean Ice Cream, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t available when we were there. Instead, our waiter told us about the Green Tea Ice Cream, which isn’t on the menu yet (but may appear soon, according to our waiter)!
The Green Tea Ice Cream was $4.25 and had a strong green tea flavor!
The ice cream was very creamy and rich, but it was a little plain without any extra toppings. It’s also a pretty small portion, but that was the right amount for us after a very filling entree! The earthy grassy flavor of green tea is pretty prominent here, even after being cut with creamy sweetness.
If you like green tea and very rich, creamy ice cream, we think you’ll really enjoy this!
Nosh or Not
You should stop in to the Nine Dragons Restaurant if you:
- Love Chinese food and want a solid meal in Disney World.
- Enjoy spicy food — there are a few options for actually spicy food here!
- Are tired of the same ol’ EPCOT sit-down spots. This is one spot that guests just don’t seem to pack into, meaning you can often get in pretty easily with little wait.
Maybe try another World Showcase restaurant if you:
- Are a vegetarian or don’t like meat — a lot of the dishes are meat-focused.
- Don’t like Chinese or Asian foods.
- Want a big selection of desserts and mixed drinks — there aren’t a whole lot of options here!
- Want to try something super unique to Disney — although we enjoyed our meal here, we thought we could get something similar at Chinese restaurants outside of Disney World.
We had great service at Nine Dragons Restaurant. Our server came and checked on us often, and he asked if we liked each item after he gave it to us. He was super attentive, and the manager even came around once to check on guests!
This is a great place for Chinese food in the parks, and it’s not as expensive as the average table-service restaurant in Disney World. It’s a good option for families because of the big meals and lower prices, but it’s also unique enough to be a cute date spot too! However, it’s not the most “Disney” restaurant, so if you want a meal you can’t get anywhere else, we’d recommend Le Cellier (for awesome but pricier food and moody atmosphere) or Garden Grill (for a fun character dining spot and a view of Living with the Land below!).
Overall, we LOVED the dumplings and definitely walked away satisfied, but it wasn’t our favorite meal we’ve ever had! Nine Dragons has the same trouble as Teppan Edo in the Japan Pavilion — most guests have a hibachi (or, in Nine Dragons’ case, Chinese) place near them they can choose to visit. Nothing is particularly unique or special about these spots other than being located in Disney World. If you’ve visited EPCOT in the past few years though, you might be looking to vary up your World Showcase sit down meals. This is a good spot to change things up. The food is pretty good and the service was excellent. Plus, actually relatively spicy food in Disney World? THAT rarely happens!
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What’s your favorite place to eat in EPCOT? Tell us in the comments!