Following my post last month, reader Anne inquired about a food craving she shares with one of her daughters. Her question read as follows:
Kendall, I know this is off topic…do you ever get a craving for the best “noodle” dish on property? I have no idea where all “noodles” can be enjoyed at Disney World. One of my daughters and I are big time Chinese or Japanese noodle fans (Lo Mein, etc.). Actually, can you recommend any noodles (any culture)? We’re looking for the best. Can you, or anyone on this site, help us out? Thanks!
I replied by thanking her for her question and promised to devote my next “Craving” post entirely to noodles. Those who know me will confirm that I love noodles and pasta; so, of course, I am only too happy to share what I know about what WDW has to offer.
As I pondered Anne’s question and my love for everything pasta related, I decided that “noodles” was just too broad a food category to cover in just one post; therefore, this article is dedicated to satisfying only cravings related to the umami enhanced noodles originating on the other side of the globe. (Note: Worry not pasta lovers, Italian pastas will be covered in a future post.)
For those of you who, like me, have only rarely heard the term umami, here is a little background. In the early 1900s, Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, was enjoying a bowl of dashi, a Japanese soup made from seaweed, and recognized a taste that was subtle yet differing from the known four: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. As any good chemist would, Ikeda set out to isolate the source. He discovered that glutamic acid—when cooked or aged—produces a savory taste. Ikeda named this taste “umami” which is derived from the Japanese adjective umai, meaning delicious. Ikeda’s discovery remained relatively unrecognized for decades, until it was proven that our taste buds do, in fact, have individual receptors for this fifth taste. Not only can we recognize five tastes, often times, we find foods with high concentrations of umami such as beef, shellfish, parmesan cheese, soup broths, and many others especially satisfiying. Through this research, I found the majority of Asian cuisine is rich in umami. I am now convinced that it is not just the noodles that I crave, but the combination of the umami filled sauces coating the udon, ramen, soba, rice, or cellophane noodles that I love. Perhaps the title of this post should have been “I Have a Craving for…Umami”. Either way the question is, “Where can I satisfy my Asian-inspired noodle craving?”
For anyone looking for umami-filled, Asian-inspired noodles, Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a virtual wonderland of noodle creations. The Polynesian’s Kona Café—one of two table service restaurants—offers Pan-Asian Noodles which are available in three variations on the menu. Each option consists of Yakisoba noodles served wok-seared with vegetables, house-made vegetarian stir-fry sauce and your choice of chicken, shrimp or tofu. The Polynesian’s other table service restaurant, Ohana, serves a dish simply known as “’Ohana Noodles”, which contains noodles, teriyaki sauce and fresh vegetables as part of the buffet-style meal. The resort’s quick service location, Captain Cook’s, offers Stir-fry Noodles with Chicken, which is a dish worthy of a sit-down meal. With more than enough to share, it is a delicious dish comprised of noodles, celery, sugar peas, red peppers, onions, carrots, chicken, and crispy wonton strips all coated in a light yet flavorful, umami-rich sauce.
If your schedule only allows for you to satisfy your cravings in the theme parks, fear not. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Asian-inspired noodles are on the menu at one of Walt Disney World’s premiere dining locations. The Hollywood Brown Derby serves up a Noodle Bowl worthy of Hollywood’s top celebrities. Yellow Thai noodles serve as the base for sugar snap peas, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, lemongrass, scallions and coconut-crusted tofu, which are made flavorful by summer curry and housemade miso broth. EPCOT Center’s, quick-service dining location Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion offers four types of the thick wheat flour noodles known as udon: Beef, Tempura Shrimp, Japanese Curry and simply Udon. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my favorite way to satisfy an Asian-noodle/umami craving can be found. The Bradley Falls food kiosk located between Africa and Asia serves an Asian Noodle Salad made up of broccoli, snow peas, carrots, red peppers, and noodles that are topped with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and green onions, but the real noodle-treat to be found here are the Summer Rolls. One order consists of two hand-held delights of noodle creativity. Each roll is made up of a generous helping of rice noodles, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage and cilantro all nestled in a rice-paper wrapper and served with a tangy, slightly spicy sauce for dipping. What could be better than satisfying your noodle craving while on the go?
Photo from the personal collection of Kendall Foreman.
While I am sure it is clear that my heart has been stolen by the Bradley Falls Summer Rolls, I know that you, readers, have your own favorite ways to satisfy your Asian-inspired noodle cravings or, now that you know all about it, your umami cravings. So, to Anne (and her daughter) and all noodle lovers traveling to WDW, I hope you have found some suggestions here that peak your interest. Any readers, who know of additional noodle dishes on property, please share them in the comments section that follows. Thanks, and happy noodle eating on your next trip to WDW.
Kendall began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. As a child, she and her family filled vacations with challenges such as “How many times can we ride Splash Mountain during SpectroMagic and the fireworks?” (Answer: 7) Now, after marrying a converted Disney skeptic, she and her husband enjoy challenges such as “How many hours can we eat nonstop at the Food & Wine Festival?” (Answer: 4)