Nine Dragons Restaurant is a table-service restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Epcot. Residing in the China Pavilion inside of World Showcase, the restaurant offers Chinese food. Nine Dragons takes part in the Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland as well as offering an Annual Pass discount. This review will include photos of the restaurant, as well as our thoughts on the restaurant’s atmosphere, cuisine and value.
Nine Dragons gets a bad rap. The restaurant is thought of as one of Disney World’s worst and is also one of the least popular in World Showcase. But is that negative reputation warranted? After reading some mixed reviews leading up to our last Disney World trip, along with my quest to review as many WDW restaurants as possible, we took it upon ourselves to find out if Nine Dragons deserves the criticism.
The restaurant is easy to find, sitting on the left side as guests enter the beautiful China Pavilion. Right next to the restaurant is the pavilion’s counter-service option, Lotus Blossom Cafe. It would appear that the two restaurants share a kitchen and I can’t say I’m a fan of the counter-service option so I was a little bit worried heading into the meal.
Once inside the actual restaurant, the atmosphere is nice although a little cramped. The hanging lanterns are very pretty and the room is broken off into sections thanks to little partitions. As I said, the restaurant isn’t all that popular and Nine Dragons could benefit by simply getting rid of a few tables. It’s not a big issue and most World Showcase restaurants try to cram tables in. The atmosphere won’t blow you away but it’s certainly nice and the decor is pretty.
One benefit of an unpopular restaurant is that the service should be very attentive. That was certainly the case here as I think we saw the wait staff at our table at Nine Dragons more than just about any other WDW meal we’ve had. Oddly, the whole meal felt a little bit rushed but I’m willing to write that off as an anomaly.
Moving on to the food, here’s a look at the menu. As I mentioned, we were there for lunch where there’s exactly one thing on the fairly large menu that’s over $22. On top of that, there’s only three items that are over $20. Without doing much research to back this up, Nine Dragons appears to have the cheapest table-service menu of any Disney World restaurant.
We opted to share with our main course being the Nine Dragons Lunch Box. This came with Kowloon Spare Ribs, General Tso’s Chicken Bao Bun, rice and a sweet wafer style cracker. The Spare Ribs were pretty good with a sweet sauce on top of them. I didn’t think the meat was extremely high in quality but the overall taste was good, as well as the broccoli mixed into the dish.
I felt similarly about General Tso’s Chicken Bao Bun. I liked the meat better in this bun and really enjoyed the sauce but there were so many onions piled on that that it hurt some of the flavor. The rice and sweet treat were both good but not memorable. At just $19, this is a pretty good deal and a lot of food. Of course there are better options at Disney World but this is one of the best values I’ve seen at a table-service restaurant.
I should mention that the lunch box also comes with a choice of soup. I went with the Wonton Soup and it was one of my favorite parts of the meal. The dumplings were delicious and the soup had a rich flavor.
We also ordered the Pork Belly Bao Buns. I liked the meat here, as well and it blended in well with the bun. The same criticism is true of this dish in that it has a few too many onions. These are under the appetizer section of the meal and are only $12. They are pretty filling and I would consider getting them again.
Last of all, we ordered a side of Fried Rice. This was fine, again it had too many onions, but came in at only $4. The picture doesn’t adequately show that there was a good amount of rice here. It was a nice compliment to the meal although I’ve certainly had better Fried Rice in my life.
Overall, we came away liking the meal pretty well. By no means was it anywhere near the best table-service meal we’ve had at Disney World but it’s also far from the worst. Where Nine Dragons really excels is in it’s value. After our Annual Pass discount was added, our meal was less than $40. We paid more than that a few nights earlier for a hot dog, burger, and a few sides at Cosmic Ray’s in Magic Kingdom. That meal was much worse. Nine Dragons is essentially giving guests a table-service meal at counter-service prices. I’ve had very few counter-service meals that would measure up to the quality of food we had at Nine Dragons. That’s essentially why the restaurant shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan then you should absolutely stay away because the value isn’t there but if you’re paying out of pocket then you can do much worse.
Nine Dragons has a decent atmosphere and average food at a good price. While ‘average food’ isn’t exactly praise, the value here makes the restaurant an interesting option for those on a budget or not on the Disney Dining Plan.
Overall Rating – 7.5/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews