Disney Dining – Lunch at Morimoto Asia

Morimoto-Asia-EntranceNew restaurants are so tempting – especially when we love the cuisine and are fans of the owner, Chef Masaharu Morimoto!  (We were always huge Iron Chef geeks back in the day.)  By the time Morimoto Asia opened, we’d already booked all our ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) for our end-of-the-year vacation and this created quite a conundrum.  What could we cancel in order to make room for at least one meal at Disney Springs?  In the end, Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany pavilion, lost our reservation and we booked Morimoto Asia through Open Table (it wasn’t set up through Disney’s site yet).

I’ve never eaten at Biergarten, so I can’t truly say if this was the right decision or not.  What I can tell you is that Morimoto Asia was fantastic and we cannot wait to go back!  Here are the top five things we loved most about our experience –

  1. The Dining Area – Atmosphere…ambiance…whatever you want to call it, the restaurant is all clean lines and open spaces.  The open kitchen was interesting to watch – lots of serious game faces at work.  Red accents give everything a warm glow, which softens what might otherwise be too modern or austere for some tastes.Morimoto-Asia-Interior Morimoto-Asia-Dining-RoomMorimoto-Asia-Place-Setting
  2. The Sake Flight – What a pleasant surprise!  We enjoy a glass of sake now and again, but don’t know much about different types and haven’t tried many options.  When we spied the sake flight we both knew we wanted to splurge and give it a try (it was the most expensive part of our meal).  Morimoto-Asia-Sake-FlightOur server was nice enough to explain more than just the basics and when we asked for the names of the different servings to be written down, she was happy to oblige.Morimoto-Asia-Sake-Flight-Notes
  3. The Service – We arrived exactly on time and were seated right away.  Our server, Sonia, was attentive without hovering, helpful with suggestions, and generally treated us as if we were the only customers dining. (You should definitely ask for Sonia.)  Morimoto-Asia-Server-SoniaPacing is important and as one might expect with a new place, there was a bit of a lull between our appetizers and entrees, but not long enough to detract from the overall great impression.  Morimoto-Asia-Ducks (The ducks though…kinda felt like they were always watching…watching.)
  4. The Menu – We love choices!  For us, when we get a restaurant menu and have a hard time deciding what to order, we feel like we’re having a better experience.  Morimoto-Asia-Menu1 Morimoto-Asia-Menu2We also tend to return quicker because we leave things behind that we really wanted to taste.  We ended up ordering four items to share, which is exactly what everyone should do at Morimoto Asia!  (Check out the menu here.)
  5. The Flavors – Before I tell you exactly what we ate, let me emphatically say that we would recommend every item we ordered.  Based on a tip we received from Howdy (excellent barmaid at Jock Lindsey’s), we ordered the Kakuni Pork Bao (“steamed buns, braised pork belly, lettuce, spicy mayo“).  Morimoto-Kakuni-Pork-Bao Morimoto-Asia-Kakuni-Pork-BaoOf course “pork belly” was all it took.  These were perfect!  Texture, seasoning, temperature – all just right.  Next we wanted to try the Morimoto Spare Ribs Appetizer (“3 pork ribs, cilantro, hoisin sweet chili glaze“).  These babies were absolutely delicious!  Morimoto-Asia-Spare-RibsCrunchy on the outside, but tender on the inside, so we were easily able to divide that last rib in two.  Next we had to have a sushi roll and agreed on the Spicy Tuna.  Morimoto-Asia-Spicy-Tuna-SushiI don’t know about where you live, but we are not used to so generous a serving of tuna in our sushi – fantastic!  Finally we decided on a basic favorite, Pad Thai with chicken (“stir-fried flat rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, scallions, fried tofu, pickled turnip, sweet tamarind sauce.”)  Morimoto-Asia-Pad-ThaiTurned out to be another excellent choice.  We tried our best to finish it, but we’d reached maximum capacity about halfway through.

We could not have enjoyed our lunch at Morimoto Asia more.  Everyone there seemed devoted to giving the best dining experience possible and we thought all the components – food, service, atmosphere – worked perfectly together to make for an excellent meal.Raymond-at-Morimoto-AsiaYour turn – Have you eaten at Morimoto Asia?  What was your first impression?  If you’re considering trying this place, I’d be happy to answer any questions if I can.

Disney Snack Favorite – Citrus Swirl

Sunshine-Tree-TerraceEver since my ill-fated attempt to enjoy my one and only Dole Whip (yes, I know I’m weird), I’ve been looking for an acceptable new Disney sweet snack to try.  Enter the Citrus Swirl!

Last month on a warm and sunny December afternoon in Magic Kingdom, I found myself in Adventureland with some free time on my hands.  It was our last day of vacation and Raymond and I had decided to take things easy and savor every single moment.  We’d had breakfast at the Grand Floridian Café before heading to Magic Kingdom with no bigger plans than our three FastPasses – which were broken up by our lunch reservation at Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge.  (Begin flash-back sequence now….)Main-Street-USA-Crowds

Another great Disney day!  We started with Under the Sea: Voyage of the Little Mermaid which had a short stand-by wait.  Then we stopped in Fantasyland near Gaston’s Tavern to watch Gaston himself entertain a few guests with his hilarious ego-fuelled antics.  Then it was on to Mickey’s PhilharMagic before using our first FastPass for Pirates and our second for Jingle Cruise (gotta love that holiday overlay!).  Time for lunch, so we caught the boat to Wilderness Lodge.Magic-Kingdom-Boat-Dock-Selfie

I remember thinking over and over what perfect weather we were having and trying to stay in the moment.  The wind on the water was soft as our nearly empty boat took us to lunch.  Our experience at Whispering Canyon was great, but we skipped dessert.  By the time we returned to Magic Kingdom, it was just in time for our third FastPass and we flew right on to Space Mountain.Tomorrowland-Crowds

At this point, the crowds were definitely approaching an extreme level, but we weren’t ready to leave.  We waited longer than we ever had before to cruise Tomorrowland on the PeopleMover (worth the wait!) before slowly making our way to see those amazing Country Bears (you love them too, right?).  We could barely move for all the people crowding the walkways, but we still didn’t want to go.  That’s when Raymond said, “Wasn’t there something you wanted to eat in Adventureland?”Sunshine-Tree-Terrace-Menu

See?  This is why I married this man!  Citrus Swirl!  Yes, I wanted to taste a Citrus Swirl!  The line at Sunshine Tree Terrace was amazingly short.  In a few minutes I was madly trying to scarf down my snack as it rapidly melted in the sun.  Citrus-Swirl-MeltingThat’s when I got the idea that we could find some shade by seeing the Tiki Birds.  Bear in mind that it had been decades since we’d been in the Tiki Room.  I honestly didn’t realize that snacks are prohibited until it was too late – I am not advocating rule-breaking at all.  Please do not do this (no matter how happy you think it will make you)…Tiki-Room-Tiki

We waited in a very short line, caught the pre-show, made our way into the Tiki Room, and found our seats.  All the while I was calmly and openly snacking away on that Citrus Swirl – oh, the deliciousness!  Right about the time the show started and the announcer asked guests to refrain from eating and drinking…my paper cup was empty and I set it and my spoon aside to take with me and discard after the “concert”.  Tiki-Room-BirdsI enjoyed the birds, but I liked that Citrus Swirl more!  Me, born without a sweet tooth, hater of Dole Whip, in love with the perfect combination of creamy soft serve and tangy orange slush – worth every penny of its $3.79 price.

My first Citrus Swirl made me a fan – and I’ve got the memories of an amazing day to go with it.  In 30 days, I’ll be back at Disney World and I’ll be heading for Sunshine Tree Terrace.

How about you?  Have you tried a Citrus Swirl?  Are you a fan?

That Time We Went to the Frozen Sing-Along

Frozen-Sing-Along-EntranceSometimes when I’m booking FastPasses I’m only after two and that third one doesn’t matter very much.  When I was booking FastPasses for our last trip to Walt Disney World, I wanted Toy Story Midway Mania and Tower of Terror for our day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I got them both at exactly the times I wanted – late morning and early afternoon.  We’d try to ride Rock’n Roller Coaster and Star Tours early in the morning on stand-by and have a pretty good plan.  My Disney Experience randomly chose a third FastPass for me and instead of trying to change it to something else, I thought, “What the heck – Why NOT?” and kept “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration” in the 2-spot for the day between Tower of Terror and Toy Story.  We’d never been to the sing-along and, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t know if we’d make it or not.  By the time that FastPass came due after lunch, I suspected we’d skip it in favor of something else.  Fast forward…

We were having a red letter day!  Seriously, considering it was two days after Christmas, we could not have enjoyed ourselves more.  As planned, we arrived early for the 8:00 am park opening and found Cast Members were letting guests in by 7:45.  We walked on to Rock’n’ Roller Coaster with no wait.  Rock'n'-Roller-Coaster-GuitarWe stopped for breakfast at Starring Rolls, strolled the Streets of America, rode Star Tours (20 minute stand-by), and saw MuppetVision 3D with no wait.  Great-Movie-Ride-WesternNext we hopped on the Great Movie Ride before deciding we needed to see Chewbacca in the Star Wars Launch Bay (30 minute wait) – we were having a blast and it was still early!  Beauty-and-The-Beast-LiveWhy not relax at Beauty and the Beast-Live On Stage before our first FastPass of the day at Tower of Terror?  After we got off our service elevator, we were parched and it was noon.Tower-of-Terror

A beer from Min & Bills hit the spot and then we made our way to 50’s Prime Time Café for our 12:30 reservation.  Lunch was excellent and, fortified for the afternoon with a carrot cake cookie from the Writer’s Stop, we decided we would indeed check out the Frozen Sing-Along. Frozen-Sing-Along-Trolls We entered the theater and took our seats in the center and toward the back – boy, was it crowded!  Behind us an argument between two groups of angry moms broke out and provided some riveting pre-show entertainment.  Then…show time!

The show is cute and funny and, having read reviews and watched this YouTube video, I knew what to expect.  When the first song started, I was ready!  I belted out the first line…Do you want to build a snowman…before I realized that virtually no one was singing along besides me.  I closed my mouth and looked around…yup, silence.  Weird!  Frozen-Sing-Along-SnowWe did like the 30-minute show…even if at our performance at least, there was no actual singing along with the sing-along.  The special effects were great!  Guaranteed to please even the most casual Frozen fan, you should put this on your Studios to-do list.  Probably, you don’t even need to use a FastPass like we did.  If you do go, I’m dying to know if people sing along or not, so please stop back by and tell me what happens!



Disney 100 Years of Magic- McDonald’s Glass Set

Hooray for the weekend!  Welcome to another exciting edition of Saturdays With Nick.  I bet some of you have (or had) some of these featured collectibles at your house.  Personally, I don’t have a single one and have absolutely no recollection of these being available at McDonald’s.  If I see some in a flea market in the future, at least now I’ll know what they are!  Are these in your kitchen cabinet?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Disney 100 Years of Magic- McDonald’s Glass Set

by Nick

In 2001-2002, Disney celebrated what would have been Walt Disney’s 100th birthday with the 100 Years of Magic Celebration.

McDonald’s released this glassy, er, classy, set of glasses to commemorate this occasion.

Each of the four glasses featured a park icon, with movie and character trivia, and even a quote from Walt!

This first glass features Spaceship Earth.
Park Trivia: EPCOT originally stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow
The Walt Disney quote: “Today we are shapers of the world of tomorrow.”

Movie Trivia: Buzz Lightyear said “To Infinity and Beyond” only 2 times in “Toy Story”

Character trivia: Belle is the French word for beauty.

The inside bottom of the glass.

This glass displays Cinderella Castle.
Park trivia: Tinker Bell starts the fireworks nightly at the Magic Kingdom.
The Walt Disney quote: “Fantasy…lies beyond the reach of time.”

Pinocchio had to be “brave, truthful and unselfish” to become a real boy.

Dumbo’s real name was actually “Jumbo Jr.”.

Bambi was taught that “twitterpated” meant falling in love.

Park Trivia for this next glass: There are 325 animal carvings on The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Walt Disney quote: “…nature herself writes the most interesting stories”

Goofy-first known as “Dippy Dawg”-stars in “Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle” Parade.

“Simba” is the Swahili word for “lion”.

The outside bottom of the glass.

Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat at the Disney Studios is 122 ft. tall.

“Kiss Me” were the only words ever spoken by Pluto.
Donald’s middle name is “Fauntleroy.”

“…it was all started by a mouse.” Walt Disney

Happy New Year, and here’s to the next 100 years of Disney Magic!

This article was originally featured on the Disney Musings blog.  To see more of Nick’s Disney collection and follow along on his Disney adventures, visit the Disney Musings Blog and follow Nick on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest. You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about…well, you can probably guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!