China / Shanghai

Lunch @ Shanghai Disneyland’s Royal Banquet Hall

After years of talking about it, the hubby and I finally ventured out to China. Of course, we couldn’t take this trip without stopping by Disney’s newest park, Shanghai Disneyland. For the very first time, we decided to spend two glorious days at a Disney park in hopes of experiencing everything it had to offer. While my hubby’s goal was to experience all the rides, I wanted to experience all the food.

There’s no shortage of cafes, bakeries and restaurants within the park. Truthfully, even the pickiest of eaters will find something to delight the tastebuds. And while we spent most of our time snacking our way through the park, we did happen to stop for one actual meal on our second day there.

The Royal Banquet Hall is a table service restaurant that is actually located inside the the Enchanted Storybook Castle! I mean, a chance to dine like royalty inside an actual Disney castle… how could I possibly pass that up!?! As you would expect, dining here is by reservation only, so I made sure to make ours as soon as our travel plans were confirmed. I recommend making a reservation by e-mail, since trying to get through their phone line was like trying to win the lottery.

We opted for a lunch reservation and made sure to arrive about 10 minutes early. After checking in at the front desk, we were given a waiting number and were directed to a beautiful waiting room. Since the Enchanted Storybook Castle was made to reflect all the Disney princesses, it was no surprise that the interior did as well. The walls were lined with paintings of different iconic Disney castles and even the wallpaper had a mishmash of lovable animal sidekicks.

After waiting for a few minutes, our number was called and we were escorted to small room for a private audience with princess Aurora. We didn’t do too much research on this restaurant, so this meet and greet came as a nice little surprise to us. That being said, I’m also not sure if the princess you get to meet changes. Anyhow, we were given a few minute to chat with the dainty princess and take a few pictures before being whisked up to the second floor and into the dining hall area.

There are five differently themed dining halls in the castle: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Princess and the Frog, Mulan and Cinderella. We were seated in the Sleeping Beauty hall and it was gorgeous! Beautiful murals were painted along the walls, sparkling chandeliers hung from the ceiling and ornate candelabras and vases adorned flat surfaces. What I really liked about the overall interior was how well each room captured their respective animated film. Instead creating a “realistic” feel, it pulls you into the animation, full of vibrant color and great detail.

Once we were seated, we got to browse the delicious menu which had a pretty well rounded selection of dishes. Only 2 or 3 course meals are served here, so we went for the 3 course meal, since there was no way I was about to skip out on dessert.

First up, the appetizers. We ordered the “Selection of Seasonal Appetizers” and “Roasted Eggplant w/ Chickpea Curry.” While the seasonal appetizers definitely had the cute factor, the eggplant was the undeniable winner taste wise. The roasted eggplant was full of flavor and practically melted in my mouth. I only got one bite in before my hubby inhaled the rest. The seasonal appetizers was ideal for me because it was nice and light like a salad. However, for those unfamiliar with asian cuisine, this dish may be a bit too exotic or more of an acquired taste in both taste and texture.

For our main course, we got “Cinderella’s Pumpkin w/ Chicken Curry” and “Braised Abalone & Pork Belly in Soy Sauce.” Both of these dishes came served in mini pumpkins and were absolutely phenomenal! The chicken curry tasted very similar to Thai green curry and the abalone and pork belly was definitely Korean inspired. They were flavorful, the meats were tender and the portions were incredibly filling. These two dishes were hands down the best things we ate at the park period.

By the time dessert rolled around, we weren’t sure if we could eat anymore… but we were certainly going to try! We ordered the “warm Chocolate Pudding with Vanilla Chantilly & Blueberry Meringue” along with “Elsa’s White Chocolate Dome with Strawberry Ice Cream.” The chocolate pudding was certainly no pudding by Western standards, but more of a lava cake. It was warm, rich and paired very nicely with the fruits and cream it was served with. Elsa’s dessert, on the other hand, was light and fruity. It wasn’t anything too special, but I’m a total sucker when it comes to macarons and ice cream.

Aside from the main menu, there’s also a drink menu that offers wines and other specialty drinks if you’re feeling a bit spendy. We decided to indulge in a glass of “Gluhvein,” which is a hot alcoholic beverage and “Pure Strawberry Daiquiri,” which was basically a strawberry slush. BUYERS BEWARE: if you purchase the “Pure Strawberry Daiquiri,” it comes in a huge castle shaped chalice that lights up. Apparently, this is a souvenir cup to take home (we had no idea). So if you don’t want to have to find a place in your home to put it, I suggest you skip it. On that note, my dog now had a very fancy water “bowl.”

In addition to a fabulous course meal in a relaxed gorgeous environment, we also got to meet and take pictures with Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Donald all dressed in their finest royal attire. This is a HUGE perk, especially if you are visiting the park with tiny humans. No matter what time you arrive, a cast member will personally make sure that all four characters visit your table throughout your meal so that everyone in your party has a chance to take plenty of photos with them. It was the best meet and greet experience we had in the park. Completely stress free!

So, was it worth it? I’d say so. While the food here wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted, it’s easily the the best in the park. Additionally, you skip the stress of hunting for a table and chaos that comes with dining in the other overly populated restaurants in the park. Yes, it was a bit pricey, but for a 3 course meal, meet and greets with 5 different characters and a dining experience in a castle… it’s hard to say it wasn’t worth it. Would I go again? Maybe. But it’s definitely something you should experience at least once.

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