My experience with Chinese food typically starts with a take-out menu on a Friday night, followed soon by a pair of paper-wrapped chopsticks and a corny fortune cookie at the end. However, on a recent trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, my sister Tina and I made an Advanced Dining Reservation for Nine Dragons Restaurant, hoping for an experience with Chinese cuisine that was far more special. Located in the China Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, we arrived to a huge crowd gathered outside the restaurant watching some amazing acrobatic performers. Despite arriving about 15 minutes early, we were seated right away. Although this was our first time dining at Nine Dragons, we had done our homework and checked out pictures of the restaurant décor on line. I have to say, the beautiful, secluded, half-moon shaped booths from the pictures looked as expected. Unfortunately, being a party of two, we were seated at a tiny two-person table in the middle of the crowded restaurant, with approximately three feet between our table and the neighboring diners. The majority of the tables were set up in a similar manner, so we decided to make the best of things and order drinks.
The décor of the restaurant was quite lovely, with brightly colored lights and a tranquil blue-green carpet accented with oranges and whites. The tables and chairs were all in dark wood, giving the area a warm feel. We both felt that the menu was pretty extensive, and included a brief lesson in Chinese characters, a great way to occupy diners and expose them to the Chinese culture.
Our server was prompt and courteous as we ordered wine and Kung Pao chicken and shrimp. We did have to request soy sauce and chopsticks, and were a bit disappointed to receive the standard disposable wooden chopsticks wrapped in paper. However, the food was very good; spicy as Kung Pao should be and very plentiful. It looked so delicious that we both started eating before remembering to take a picture! Sadly, we could not come close to polishing off our huge meals, but overall we enjoyed the experience. The cost of two glasses of wine, two entrees and tax and tip totaled about $70.00, not unreasonable for dinner in Epcot. Another bonus was the restaurant’s proximity to the extensive shops in the China Pavilion, where we each purchased some authentic chopsticks to bring home … perfect to class up our Chinese take-out on Friday nights.
DIStracted Tip: While Advanced Dining Reservations are always recommended, it is typically not as difficult to secure a reservation at Nine Dragons as it is for other World Showcase Restaurants. Traveling with a larger party? Request a cozy corner booth for your group to gain a bit of privacy. The Disney Dining Plan is accepted at Nine Dragons, with each meal counting as one table service credit.