The Lunar New Year Festival at Disney California Adventure is off and rolling for the next few weeks. Along with it, there are marketplaces around Paradise Gardens that offer specialty food and drink items. In this post, we’ll rank and review all of the items we’ve tried at the festival!
Before we get to the tasty treats, we have a few tips. Despite it being a short festival and the offseason, California Adventure has seen high crowds especially at the marketplaces. There are fewer options than a few of the park’s other festivals which means less room for everyone to go. On top of that, the resort is understaffed right now due to the rise in Omicron cases. With that in mind, be prepared to wait a while for food you order.
There are a few ways to avoid the crowds though! Getting there as soon as the marketplaces open, around 10:30 is a good way to go. Having an early lunch will save you a good amount of time. Another way to beat some of the crowd is that you can order from all of the marketplaces at once. Even if you’re going to four separate ones, you can tell a Cast Member what you want and then just go to the pickup line of the different booths and show them your receipt. The lines have been exceptionally long so don’t stand in extra ones if you don’t have to!
If you are planning to eat a decent amount or are sharing with some friends then we recommend the Sip & Savor Pass. At $43 (or $40 for Magic Key Holders), the pass will give you six vouchers to redeem for any of the marketplaces’ (and select other locations) dishes or non-alcoholic drinks. We recommend spending the vouchers on the food items as that’s the best bang for the buck. You will likely save a few dollars going this route.
We still have a few items to try at the festival and will add them in over the next week. As a whole, the food has been slightly underwhelming. Some of that may have been due to how busy the park was and we’ve generally had exceptional dishes at DCA’s festivals. I have been impressed that the dishes haven’t played it safe, adding more spice than the typical Disney dishes. Let’s get to the rankings!
10. Baked Char Siu Bao (Cappuccino Cart)
Living in Southern California does have advantages, one of them being that there is good food everywhere. We are absolutely spoiled by taquerias and Asian food, specifically. This particular item was fine, with a very sweet bao bun and barbecue pork inside. None of the ingredients stand out and finding a better bao bun anywhere nearby is easy.
9. Shrimp Fried Rice (Lucky 8 Lantern)
The Shrimp Fried Rice was a better option, with bacon and edamame heavily flavoring the rice. The problem here was that the shrimp were rubbery and simply bad. I’m hopeful that we just had bad luck because the rest of the dish did have good flavor. Unfortunately, the shrimp brought the rest of it down.
8. Hong Kong Milk Tea (Lucky Fortune Cookery)
If you’re new to milk tea and like sweet drinks, this is a good place to start. That said, this is overly sweet and lacking in actual tea flavor. The same idea as the bao bun applies here where a guest could go somewhere else and find a better product. It is a refreshing drink to share though, especially with some of the spice coming up on the list!
7. Garlic Noodles (Longevity Noodle Co.)
The Garlic Noodles were tasty but fairly generic. To me, I thought they had a very buttery noodle taste with parmesan on top. What did differentiate them was when the garlic kicked in, and that did give the dish some depth. I don’t think these were overly unique and they’d be easy to replicate at home, but they did taste good.
6. Spicy Pork Dandan Noodles (Longevity Noodle Co.)
I love some Dandan noodles and these surprised us with how much spice was involved. On the downside, they were lacking depth as the spice was overpowering any other aspect of the dish. I did think they were more unique than anything else on the menu and I liked them. I’ve just had better elsewhere.
5. Hoisin Pork Sliders (Studio Catering Truck) – not included in Sip & Savor
We were somewhat split on this dish, with the pulled pork being good but not great. What I did think elevated the slider is the apple slaw that was on top. There was a nice acidity on top of the sweetness of the meat. It was balanced and tasty. That said, I think the slider could have used an aioli or different sauce.
4. Gochujang Wings (Paradise Gardens Special Events Cart)
These wings had a good amount of heat on them and I really liked the Gochujang sauce on top. The actual wings were pretty meaty and juicy. I do think the wings would have benefited from one more ingredient or flavor added in. Some sweetness to go with the heat would have been a welcome addition.
3. Spicy Three-Cup Chicken (Red Dragon Spice Traders)
This was the spiciest dish we’ve had at the festival. In fact, it was so spicy that I was the only one to try it while Melissa and Michaela both opted out. Follow their lead if you don’t like spice. But, if you do, this had more flavor than anything else on the dish with peppers adding heat and the sauce giving a smoky quality. This was served on Jasmine Rice, with a nice depth of flavor.
2. Mickey Chinese Hot Dog Bun (Prosperity Bao & Buns)
I’m as surprised as you are that this ended up as high as it did. The Mickey shaped bun has just a touch of sweetness along with the sesame seeds and scallions mixed in. The hot dogs put in the bun tasted similar to smokies instead of actual hot dogs. All of it worked well and we were impressed by how fresh it all tasted.
1. Green Tea Slush (Studio Catering Truck) – not included in Sip & Savor
It’s not normal for me to put a drink on top of the list but the Green Tea Slush was delicious! This was made with almond milk, green tea and vanilla. The drink wasn’t overly creamy though and had a nice balance of sweetness and green tea. I was surprised that no Matcha was in the drink because it did taste similar to that. All in all, it’s a perfect drink for a hot day and I wish it would find a permanent place in California Adventure.
Have you tried anything at California Adventure’s Lunar New Year Festival? Let us know your favorites, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends and like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!