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June 26, 2017

Morimoto Asia Summer Forbidden Lounge Late-Night Offerings

Deb's Digest Blog

by AllEars.Net's Deb Wills and Linda Eckwerth

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Morimoto Asia is a beautiful two-story restaurant in Disney Springs with a variety of options for your dining pleasure. There is the full-service dining room on the first floor (though there are some full-service tables on the second floor). Also on the main floor is one of the two bars. Upstairs not only has a sushi bar, but the Forbidden Lounge, a wonderful place to hang out and relax with craft cocktails and great food.

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Morimoto Asia recently debuted its new summer additions to the Forbidden Lounge late-night menu. We were able to sample the new cocktails and also the late-night food offerings. (Be sure to read my recent blog "Noshing at Disney Springs," which includes the Forbidden Lounge.)

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Here is my take on the new craft cocktail offerings:

Here are Linda's thoughts on the new craft cocktails:

I tasted all five of the new beverage offerings, and I think there is one that will appeal to just about every palate. All were refreshing and had a different twist on a classic cocktail. There were sweet, smoky, citrusy, tart and aromatic offerings. I do not particularly care for sweet or smoky drinks, so while the Yuzu Sidecar, Kunsei Smoked Coconut, Kyuuri Gin Blossom Martini and Watermelon Soyokaz were enjoyable, my favorite was the Tequila and Tonic. This was very refreshing, aromatic, and had a hint of citrus. Plus, there was no strong alcohol flavor.

A number of new small plates/appetizers created by Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinaga were also introduced for late-night noshing in the Forbidden Lounge.

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Since I have a rather "limited" palate, I asked Linda to elaborate on the food offerings, each of which costs $8.

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Next up were the new food items for summer. My two favorites were the Blistered Shishito Peppers served with Wasabi Creme Fraiche and Yuzu Salt. The peppers were full of flavor, not very spicy, although every once in a while one had a bit more heat. The peppers went really well with my Tequlia and Tonic. I did not try the wasabi creme fraiche. I thought they tasted just fine on their own.

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My other favorite was the Shichime Spiced Edamame. These were prepared with sesame and Japanese 7 spice. Now, these had much more heat than the Blistered Shishito Peppers. Again, very flavorful and a nice change from plain edamame with salt. Again, I enjoyed them with my beverage, but I think a nice cold beer also would go nicely with this dish.

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The Kushiyaki “grilled on a stick” was chicken yakitori, pork skirt steak and miso marinated black cod. The chicken and pork were good but OH MY! The black cod was out of this world. It was light, flaky and melted in my mouth.

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The other two dishes offered have a bit more substance to them. The Beef Bulgogi Nachos were served with wonton chips, thinly sliced soy-marinated beef short ribs, gochujang sauce, jalapenos, cheese and scallions. This dish had some heat, the beef was very tender and the wonton chips held their crunch. It was also a bit messy to eat, but then so are regular nachos.

The Chashu Pork Quesadilla had pulled, braised pork belly, caramelized red onions, spicy mayo and blended cheese. I am not a big fan of pork belly because it can be on the fatty side. This quesadilla was delicious, but I found the pork to be a bit too fatty for my taste.

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Linda's plate of samples:

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We are both fans of the Forbidden Lounge and were excited to have the opportunity to try out the new offerings.

Linda adds: I have always enjoyed the Forbidden Lounge upstairs at Morimoto Asia. The craft cocktails are fun, the “bar food” usually changes with the season, the background music is nice and the bartenders are friendly and attentive. I hope you will enjoy your experience as well.

DISCLAIMER: AllEars.Net was invited by Morimoto Asia to try out its new summer offerings in terms of bar foods and cocktails. Our opinions are our own. Trust us -- we spend plenty of our own money there!





June 19, 2017

Noshing Night at Disney Springs

Deb's Digest Blog
Disney Springs Signage


Disney Springs
really has undergone an amazing transformation. We have probably spent more time there in the last couple years than we had the 10 prior. Lots of great places to eat with a variety of tastes and prices. In fact, for several months we have been talking about noshing our way around Disney Springs.

We were staying at a Disney Springs hotel recently, so we decided it was time for Noshing Night! Our criteria was to sit at the bar and order a beverage and appetizer. A progressive dinner without dessert. One important note -- Linda enjoys craft cocktails and I only drink wine (mostly red). Both of us were certain to be drinking lots of water and most of the bartenders were refilling our glasses without asking.

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The sky was clear on this Friday evening as the week of rain had finally ended for a few hours. Still, it was a hot June evening.

Art Smith's Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine


We began at Art Smith's Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar, one of our favorite places at Disney Springs.

The Homecoming bar has two options, you can either sit inside the restaurant (in air conditioning) or outside. We spotted two seats inside and sat down. Bartender Doug came over and introduced himself, keeping us happy for the duration.

Homecoming Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar


Art Smith's Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar


We perused the beverage menu. Linda feels that Homecoming has one of the best craft cocktail bars in Disney Springs. She chose the Cucumber Cooler, which consisted of Tito's handmade vodka with lime juice, simple syrup and crisp cucumber slices ($11). Linda asked for it very easy on the simple syrup and it came out perfectly. I actually might have enjoyed it on the rocks.

I chose an Alexander Valley Merlot ($12), although I would have preferred a nice crisp white -- but this is a craft cocktail bar, not a wine bar (Winebar George, we can't wait for you to open!)

Cucumber Cooler Art Smith's Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine


Drinks having arrived, it was time for food. We ordered the Church Lady Deviled Eggs ($10 for 6). OMG! We order them every visit! I recall the first time we ate there I was thinking, "Why pay so much money for a deviled egg?" But you have to try them! Then you'll understand.

Church Lady Deviled Eggs

Linda then decided some of the Cheddar Cheese Drop Biscuits ($6) would be great, especially since we were drinking. Another OMG! These were quite different than the ones we had here previously. Our barkeep told us they had changed them and added cream cheese to fluff them up. They were outstanding! Who takes biscuits home in their doggie bag? We did!

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We chatted, noshed and sipped there for about an hour, paid our bill and left to find another spot.

Rating: Food 5*, Service 5*, Ambiance 5*.

As we walked outside, we talked about where to head next. Linda had a hankering for oysters so off to the Boathouse we went.

Boathouse at Disney Springs

As you might imagine, it was quite crowded over there. There is the Captain's Raw Bar inside, just as you enter the restaurant, but we find it too loud to talk so we opt for the dockside bar.

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Boathouse at Disney Springs


The only outdoor seating was in direct sun, so we walked around a bit in hopes something in the shade would free up. Sure enough, a table for two opened up at the outside bar with our names on it.

Boathouse at Disney Springs

Linda placed an order for oysters along with a Blue Moon Beer. I was still feeling full from Homecoming and wanted something cool and refreshing so I ordered a glass of prosecco.

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Blue Moon Beer and Proseco

We have enjoyed beautiful sunsets at this location before, but tonight that wasn't meant to be. Instead we enjoyed watching folks in the Amphicars. In fact, we even got to see one of them being towed back in due to technical problems. Oops.

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After we had been there about an hour, we felt the temperature had gotten increasingly hotter. Soon we were both feeling sluggish. Time to walk!

Rating: Food 5*, Service 3.5*, Ambiance 5*.

We saw lots of different types of entertainment around Disney Springs, which is always fun. I really like that they have enhanced this aspect since the total refurbishment of the old Downtown Disney. We enjoyed the strolling violinist, strolling piano and singer and a Living Statue. It was very entertaining to watch folks who wanted to get their photo with the Living Statue, but were not exactly sure how to approach him. We even had fun checking out the Lego displays.

Disney Springs Entertainment
Disney Parks Legos
Disney Springs Entertainment

Our next and what turned out to be our final stop -- Morimoto Asia.

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The downstairs bar was very noisy and hectic so we made our way to the upstairs bar. Ah, the air conditioning felt so very good and soon we both perked up again.

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs

Linda loves the Manhattan East here so she ordered one. It is made of hiro sake, Makers Mark bourbon, canton liqueur, and orange bitters ($14).

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs Manhattan East Cocktail

To no one's surprise I ordered another glass of red wine, Antinori Santa Cristina Chianti, Tuscany ($12). I have found this chianti works really well with Morimoto's ribs!

Our two servers, Matthew and Junko, took most excellent care of us. Linda decided the Manhattan that Junko made was the BEST Manhattan East she has had there!

I ordered an appetizer portion of the spare ribs (pork ribs, cilantro, hoisin sweet chili glaze) for $14. One of my favorites -- three tender and crispy ribs. Be careful of the red threads on top of the ribs, though. They are VERY hot!

Spare Ribs Appetizer Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs

Linda got a Spicy Tuna Roll with white rice (you have a choice between white and brown). The tuna, with spicy mayo and scallion, is $13.

Spicy Tuna Roll Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs

We were having lots of fun talking with the bartenders and soaking up the relaxing atmosphere. Love the background music upstairs -- smooth jazz or New Age, not sure which.

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Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs
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Rating: Food 5*, Service 5*, Ambiance 5*.

Around 9 p.m. we decided to call it a night and walked back to our Disney Springs hotel.

The food of the night award goes to Homecoming! The server of the night award goes to Matthew at Morimoto Asia.

You might be asking yourself, "What did all this cost?" The food itself without tax/tip came to $73, divided by two that made it about $37 each. The alcohol without tax/tip came to $78.50, so just under $40 each. All totaled including tip, tax and tags our total price was $185.75.

There were a few discounts available. Homecoming offers the Tables in Wonderland 20 percent discount; the Boathouse offers 10 percent with the Annual Passport (food only), and Morimoto Asia takes the Tables in Wonderland 20 percent.

We certainly won't be doing this often, given the price tag, but it made for a perfect evening out!
It was wonderful and we hope to do it again when the weather turns cooler.

Have you enjoyed a night of noshing at Disney Springs? Where did you go? Tell us about it in the comments.






November 10, 2016

Vivoli Gelato - Hidden Gem at Disney Springs

Deb's Digest Blog
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Did you know you can get real Italian Gelato in Disney Springs?? Well, you can and it's wonderful!

Vivoli Gelato is located in The Landing section of Disney Springs, diagonally across from the Hangar Bar. You may not have even realized it is there because the building and signage is understated. However, bright orange tables and chairs recently have been added outside for guests to relax and enjoy their Italian goodies.

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Founded in 1932 by Raphael and his two brothers, Vivoli Gelateria started out as a dairy. At that time, it was not easy to find raw materials such as milk, eggs and sugar, and there were no gelato machines and freezers. After World War II, technology enabled the brothers to follow their passion and produce gelato every day –- a far cry from the early recipes that relied on barrels filled with ice and snow from the nearby mountains to keep their concoctions frozen.

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Silvana Vivoli, the granddaughter of Raphael Vivoli, one of the company’s founders, was recently at the Vivoli Gelato to introduce four new fall flavors: Tiramisu, Apple Pie, Pecan, and Pumpkin.

It was clear at the start that Silvana Vivoli is quite passionate about her family business. She stressed to us how important it has been to remain dedicated to creating pure gelati and sorbetti with fresh, high quality ingredients and family crafted recipes. There is nothing artificial! The store uses local and seasonal products, with cocoa powder, hazelnut and pistachio imported from Italy.

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As you peruse the showcase of gelatos you will notice both white and blue spoons. The blue spoons represent items that are vegan.

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I had observed while in Italy that some gelato stores (and also those in the U.S.) have mounds of gelato in their showcases and in others, the gelato is flat. She explained it has a lot to do with temperature and quality. "If you see big mountains, no," she said. If the colors are flashy, no again. "Most people are attracted by bright color and form, but that is gelato you should stay away from." This was the same advice my Italian Street Food Guide gave us in Rome.

You will also find an assortment of pastries at Vivoli Gelato. These are made by Chef Vincenzo, the pastry chef at Tutto Italia at the Italy Pavilion in EPCOT.

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Stop by Vivoli Gelato on your next visit to Disney Springs. You can even ask for a sample spoon of the gelato or sorbet.

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DISCLAIMER: I was invited to Vivoli Gelato to sample the fall flavors and meet Silvana. This did not affect this blog; my opinions are my own. In fact, after spending time in Italy last year, I got to enjoy the real Italian Gelato and this is it!

October 22, 2015

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar aka Because We Can Day - Quick Review

Deb's Digest Blog

Sometimes it is good to be spontaneous. Last Sunday we were home working and friends said, "hey we are going to Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar "-- do you want to come?" And at first I'm like "oh I have too much to do, I don't think so". But then thought about several loved ones going thru really difficult health times and I thought.. you know what we can so we should.

Hence - Because we can day!

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We had just been to Disney Springs the week before and in that short amount of time, roads have changed as has the entry into the garage. (Note to self - FOLLOW the signs LOL). Love the garages, the lighted signs and dots make it easy to find parking. Crowds were everywhere by noonish on Sunday. Why not, it was a beautiful day.
Deb Koma did a comprehensive review of Jock Lindsey's and I have to say I agree with just about everything she said.

The themeing is awesome (based on a pilot who appeared in Indiana Jones), as you would expect from Walt Disney Imagineering. It looks just like a pilot hangout you'd see in the movies. There are lots of hidden gems on the wall, nodding to Iron Man, Star Wars, and of course the story of Jock.

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Our food was tasty, a little off the norm (but not so exotic you didn't want to try it) and flavorful. The small plates ranged from $8.99 - $14.99. We really liked the Tanis Tacos - A Lost City Specialty! Filled with Falafel, Shredded Lettuce, and Cucumber-Tomato Salad $9.49. Other popular menu items are the wings and sliders. Check out the menu HERE.

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Service was excellent, thanks Courtney. She was attentive but not pushy and we didn't feel rushed. We were noshing on the food, enjoying our beverages and before we knew it over 2 hours had passed. We ran into several friends there who also were having a great time and enjoyed the food and atmosphere.

Place is small (150 seats for in and outside) . Indoor and covered outdoor seating. When we arrived there were no tables, within a few minutes a small area opened on Reggie the boat outside.

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Another 10 minutes a table for 4 opened up outside. Next thing we knew our friends had found a great table inside. As Deb Koma said in her review "Since it's open seating, this leads to people being forced to hover over tables, waiting for others to finish up."

Music was lively BUT you could have a conversation without shouting - loved that!

Our bill for 2 glasses of wine, 2 margaritas, and 3 menu items came to $75 with tax plus tip. If you want to buy the special drink glasses they are $15 each.

I liked Jock's much better than Trader Sam's, but that's like comparing apples and oranges. For what Trader Sam's is - it works but I think only if you are with other folks and up for a loud evening (sitting inside). Trader Sam's is a much more interactive experience. You can read my review of Trader Sams's HERE.

At Jock's it was a more friendly, warm atmosphere. I'll certainly return here. It's a great place to "hang out". Not sure when I'll get back to Trader Sam's.

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About Disney Springs

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Deb's Digest in the Disney Springs category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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