This Underrated EPCOT Restaurant Has the Best Bang for Your Buck

by | Jun 17, 2024 | EPCOT, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World Food

A review of Nine Dragons, a table service restaurant located in the China Pavilion of EPCOT’s World Showcase.

With dozens of unique restaurants featuring international cuisine, highly themed experiences, character meet-and-greets, and other entertainment, EPCOT is widely regarded as the best theme park for food in Walt Disney World.  However, there is one restaurant that often goes unnoticed amongst this bounty of outstanding eateries.  

Nine Dragons Restaurant

Located at the China Pavilion in World Showcase, Nine Dragons has plenty to offer the theme park guest looking for a worthwhile dining experience: a lovely setting, delicious Chinese cuisine and good service. My family and I have eaten here on numerous occasions and have always enjoyed the experience. 

However there is one advantage to this restaurant being consistently overlooked; same-day reservations are almost always available, a rare commodity in the world of Disney dining. 

During one of my family’s trips to Walt Disney World, we wound up staying in Florida an extra day due to a flight cancellation caused by inclement weather back in New York. We decided to go to EPCOT that day, but of course had no advanced dining reservation. When we got to the park we checked with Guest Relations (this was years ago, long before the My Disney Experience app), and sure enough, reservations were available at Nine Dragons.

One criticism often leveled at Nine Dragons is that the restaurant serves the same typical fare that you can get back home from any Chinese food takeout. However, that is not entirely accurate. While they do serve some tried and true dishes, such as fried rice or honey-sesame chicken, there are also some more unique items on the menu. 

Furthermore, the majority of food available in a theme park, such as pizza, burgers, chicken tenders, and more, is also typical fare that you can always get back home. So why single out Nine Dragons for this?

Overall Vibe – Exotic Yet Subdued

When you step inside the restaurant, you can’t help but be impressed by the ambiance, especially the large glass etching of two dragons that greets you as you enter the main dining room. The décor features warm tones, wooden walls with ornate designs, wood-carved statues, traditional Chinese lanterns, and exquisite glass artwork.

If you like people-watching, request a table by one of the windows, where you will get a lovely view of the bustling World Showcase Lagoon promenade. Requests are usually accommodated but there is no guarantee. 

The service is quick and the wait staff is polite yet subdued. You won’t experience any manic wait staff hijinks, like at Whispering Canyon Café or 50’s Prime Time Café, nor will you encounter any overly eager, aggressively friendly servers. 

Dinner is Served – Traditional and Unique Menu Items

We began our meal with two appetizers; my wife and I shared the crispy duck bao buns (something, by the way, I have never seen on any Chinese restaurant menu). The buns were fluffy, and the duck tender and delicious. My son and I also split a special combination plate that featured Szechuan chicken dumplings and chicken pot stickers. While both items were quite yummy, I wish there had been more than just two of each.

Nothing quenches your thirst on a hot and steamy EPCOT day like an ice-cold beer, and so I ordered a bottle of Singtao, a tasty Chinese beer. I have also tried the Dragon Blossom Draft, a unique beer infused with floral notes; a distinctive flavor to be sure, but a little too sweet for a beer for my tastes.  

Photo by Thomas Stefanchik

Among the specialty cocktails available, the Jade Beauty, made with vodka, honeydew melon liqueur, pineapple juice and lemon-lime soda is very refreshing, and packs quite a punch.

For my main course, I ordered the honey sesame chicken, which was both sweet and savory, with a crispy coating and tender inside. My wife ordered the crispy duck fried rice (vegetable egg fried rice can be ordered as a side dish). I just love how much they feature duck at this restaurant; once again, it’s not a menu item I have found at many Chinese restaurants or takeouts.  This dish was delicious but I would have liked more duck and less vegetables.

For the little ones, a kids’ menu with limited options is also available. And the Annual Passholder discount, offered at most but not all World Showcase restaurants, is offered here.

Should You Eat at Nine Dragons? Here’s the Bottom Line

Nine Dragons has a lot going for it. The restaurant serves high-quality Asian cuisine in a picturesque setting, with pleasant service.  Furthermore, there are almost always reservations available.  

On the other hand, Nine Dragons has no Disney theming, character appearances, live music, or other forms of entertainment.  Therefore if you are looking for a lively and engaging dining experience or something to keep the kids distracted while you eat, this is not the restaurant for you.

The bottom line is that Nine Dragons may not be the most unique dining experience in all of Walt Disney World, but it is definitely worth a try.  And you never know, you may even like it enough for a return visit.

 

Posts by Thomas Stefanchik

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Thomas J. Stefanchik has more than 30 years of professional experience writing and editing a diverse range of materials. His most recent writings have been concentrated on family travel. He is a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, has homes in New York and Florida, and would gladly trade both residences for a condo in World Showcase.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Thomas Stefanchik

Thomas J. Stefanchik has more than 30 years of professional experience writing and editing a diverse range of materials. His most recent writings have been concentrated on family travel. He is a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, has homes in New York and Florida, and would gladly trade both residences for a condo in World Showcase.
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