On September 6th Zachary, Applesauce, Tony, and I (Nicole) ventured to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for Pass Member Appreciation Day. Although the speech itself was short, we enjoyed the breakfast and the lines for the rides were practically nonexistent.

After meeting up with several other ParkFans Forum members, and enjoying most of the park, we decided to head back to Das Festhaus to try the Asian Fusion menu, being offered exclusively for pass members that day.

It turned out the Culinary Department was offering a Taste of Asia sampler to test potential dishes for the 2015 Food & Wine Festival. As huge fans of that event, we were excited to try everything and provide our feedback, as we had for the entire Food & Wine Festival earlier this season.

Perhaps the best part of our mini-tasting event was having the opportunity to talk to Justin Watson, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Executive Chef. He was incredibly friendly and seemed very interested in our thoughts — both good and bad. With him at the helm it is no wonder many of the parks recent culinary offering have been so good.

Since these dishes may end up at our beloved Food & Wine Festival in some form, we thought we should share our thoughts about each of them. It is probably worth noting that the group seemed to have a fairly varied set of tastes and preferences, so hopefully we represented a fairly wide cross-section of potential diners. So, joined by Gavin, Matthew, and Horsesboy, we compiled the following review of the six pan-Asian dishes being offered.

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Bahn Mi
Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)

We all enjoyed the sandwich and Gavin and I liked the noodles, as well. Chef Justin said that the noodles were made with fish sauce, which tends to be a polarizing ingredient. The Bahn Mi did suffer from a perennial problem at BGW: consistency. We noticed this problem at last year’s F&WF, as well. We found samples of the same dish would vary from “terrible” to “delicious.” In this case, Matthew’s sandwich was significantly better than the other three we had at our table.

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Thai Green Curry Chicken with Rice
Thai Green Curry Chicken with Rice

I am a huge fan of Thai curries in general, so I had high hopes for this dish. While I would still like to see some form of this Thai staple on the final menu, it will need some tweaking first. The chicken was overcooked, varying from rubbery to dry. The sauce was bland and too sweet. We all agreed that the chicken needed to be simmered in the sauce, which itself needed more heat.

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Lettuce Wrap with Sweet Chili Sauce
Lettuce Wrap with Sweet Chili Sauce

This dish was Applesauce, Gavin, and Horsesboy’s favorite. The sauce was light and delicious. In fact, we compared it to the Heart of Palm Salad, a stand-out favorite at this year’s F&WF. Our only complaint was that it was a little difficult to eat, without losing the filling out the sides of the lettuce wrap.

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Kimchi
Kimchi (Spicy Korean Cabbage)

Although none of us liked the kimchi, we weren’t sure if it was well prepared or not. We simply lacked the background to judge its authenticity. That said, it is probably not going to appeal to many people, if none of us enjoyed the flavors.

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Chicken and Dumpling with Citrus Ponzu
Chicken Dumplings with Citrus Ponzu

This dish was Matthew and Tony’s favorite. Overall we were split on the flavors. Five out of the seven of us loved the sauce. The dumpling was good, but not especially noteworthy.

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Ginger Lemongrass Custard
Ginger Lemongrass Custard

This dessert was Zachary and my favorite dish. We loved the interesting flavors, and the consistency was perfect. In fact, we agreed this custard was better than anything we tasted at last year’s Food & Wine Festival.

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While we may not love the idea of adding another non-European booth to the Food & Wine Festival, I think we all agreed that we would enjoy seeing some of these dishes at the 2015 event, and are looking forward to trying everything again.

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