The Lunar New Year Festival is back again at California Adventure! The 2023 version kicked off on January 20th and is the best one yet, a more thought out and complete edition of the popular festival. The food has also improved from and that’s what we’ll dive into today. In this post, we’ll rank all of the items we’ve tried from the festival marketplaces and restaurants.
Even though it is the perceived offseason at Disneyland Resort, Lunar New Year Festival always seems to bring in crowds. I was very surprised last year at how long the lines were at the festival marketplaces and that continued during the first day of this year’s festival. Sure, some days might not be as busy but be prepared to wait for a while if you’re ordering food.
There are a few ways to avoid the crowds though! Getting there as soon as the marketplaces open, around 10:30 or 11 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 booths, you can order from one, go to the pickup line of the different places and show them your receipt. Here’s a link to the menus so that you can be prepared!
If you are planning to eat a decent amount or are sharing with some friends then we recommend the Sip & Savor Pass. At $45 (or $42 for Magic Key Holders), the pass will give you six vouchers to redeem for any of the marketplace (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. Relative to last year, we have loved what we’ve tried so far! There are only a few items that I wouldn’t consider ordering again and even those were at least interesting! Let’s get to the list.
14. Pad Thai Spring Roll (Sonoma Terrace)
This dish consists of Shrimp with scrambled eggs, noodles, crushed peanuts, and Thai basil served with tangy slaw and pad Thai sauce. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for me as the cold Spring Roll had a strong black licorice flavor from the basil. I liked the slaw and sauce pretty well but they were nothing original. I’d skip this one.
13. Kimchi Bokkeumbap (Paradise Garden Grill)
This dish was the most interesting of everything I’d tried but I didn’t love it. This consists of Kimchi, potato, carrot, and onion fried rice with egg and Korean chili paste topped with crispy sweet and sour tofu and black sesame seeds. I liked the spice and the tofu was delicious. The rice was a little goopy and undercooked in spots but I did like the crunch some of the veggies added. This was a mixed bag but is worth trying if you want something more adventurous.
12. Dak Bulgogi (Paradise Garden Grill)
I thought the Dak Bulgogi was just fine. Consisting of Korean BBQ chicken served with rice and kimchi, every item was decent but nothing stood out. Generally, I love Bulgogi but have usually had it served as beef instead of chicken. I didn’t dislike the dish, it was just forgettable.
11. Garlic Noodles (Longevity Noodle Co.)
The Garlic Noodles were tasty but fairly generic. I thought they had a very buttery noodle taste with parmesan on top. What did differentiate them was when the garlic kicked in, that gave 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.
10. Bahn Mi (Paradise Garden Grill)
The Bahn Mi consisted of Grilled pork belly with pickled carrots, cucumbers, daikon, and jalapeños with a spicy mayo. I didn’t find the sandwich to be overly spicy, unless you got a bite of the jalapenos. Unfortunately, I didn’t think the dish was that interesting. The pork belly tasted good but this wasn’t anything special.
9. 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 liked them, I’ve just had better elsewhere.
8. Pepperoni Pizza Bao Bun (Prosperity Bao & Bun)
On the first day of the festival, this seemed to be the most popular item. That’s not a big surprise seeing how it’s a fusion of cuisines that most people really like. This was good, but honestly I wanted it to take a few more risks. This didn’t really taste anything like a Bao Bun, instead it was just the same shape. The dough was very similar to a breadstick and I wish the pizza filling was more substantial. All that said, this is a good and safe choice that I don’t think anyone will dislike. I’m just not sure it will blow anybody away.
7. Tiger Milk Boba Tea (Paradise Garden Grill)
Disney drinks are really hit and miss, usually ending up too sweet instead of relying on flavor. That’s not the case here as this Tiger Milk Boba Tea with brown sugar had some nice depth between the brown sugar flavor and boba. On top of that, you could actually taste the tea without it being overpowered by the sweetness. It was a nice and refreshing drink!
6. Mickey Chinese Hot Dog Bun (Bamboo Blessings)
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.
5. Green Tea Horchata (Cappuccino Cart)
This drink was really well balanced, with even layers of cinnamon, green tea and cream. It’s a really refreshing drink to walk around the park with. There’s boba in this drink with a flavor that really reminded me of cheesecake. The menus don’t actually say what it was but I ended up thinking they were an asset to the drink rather than a deterrent.
4. Raspberry Oat Milk Tea (Longevity Noodle Co.)
This drink is made up of Ceylon Tea, raspberry and demerara syrups, and oat milk garnished with skewered raspberries. I found the depth in this drink to be really refreshing and delicious. The syrups added a sweet and floral flavor while the Oat Milk added a nice but not too heavy creaminess. This is my favorite drink I’ve had at any DCA festival.
3. Bok Choy and Mushroom Dumplings (Wrapped With Love)
While I thought the dish was missing one final touch to take it over the top, these veggie dumplings were delicious. The Mushrooms were tender and the Bok Choy was diced finely to not make the texture out of place. These dipped in the black garlic sauce was delicious, although the presentation from this booth was lacking.
2. Pork and Shrimp Wontons (Wrapped With Love)
These Wontons were served with a black garlic sauce and were absolutely delicious. The wonton wrapper was delicious and had a good texture but the star of the show was the pork and shrimp filling. The black garlic sauce was a perfect addition to the juicy, savory filling. I want more of these right now!
1. Quesabirria Egg Roll (Lucky 8 Lantern)
I’d elect this dish into the Festival Food Hall of Fame! I’ll even order the plaque! This Egg Roll is filled with Oaxaca cheese, beef birria, and a side of guajillo pepper consommé. Birria is having a well deserved moment, at least around Southern California, and Disney has jumped into that game. Juicy, tender and flavorful beef along with cheese inside of a fried dough is always going to work for me but this manages to not be overly heavy or greasy. The consommé adds a savory stew like flavor to dip the Egg Roll in. This is the best item I’ve had at any California Adventure food festival!
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!
Categories: Restaurant Reviews