Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! As a mixed Asian American, I try to get more in touch with my Filipino culture by the day. Filipinos, as well as other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) cultures, have rich histories, beautiful traditions, and delicious food.
Because I will be in Walt Disney World very soon, I became curious if the park was doing anything for AAPI Heritage Month. Sure enough, they are, and they are celebrating AAPI cultures through various limited-time cuisines. From my own Filipino heritage to Indian to Japanese, Walt Disney World has a variety of AAPI-inspired dishes throughout its parks and resorts. Of course, I can’t go through all of the dishes, but I’ll give my top five that are on my must-eat list.
Ube Pianono – Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs
Pianono is a Filipino sponge cake roll influenced by the culture’s Catholic and Spanish colonial influence. The dessert is named after the Spanish name for Pope Pius IX (head of the Catholic Church from 1846 to 1878): “Pio Nono.” Ube is a purple yam that grows in Southeast Asia and has a mildly sweet flavor. It’s commonly used in other Filipino desserts such as halo-halo and halaya. This Disney dessert puts the yam in the sponge cake roll and fills it with cinnamon banana mousse and ube buttercream.
Korean Fried Chicken Bowl – Various Disney Resort Hotels
Fried chicken is a staple Korean comfort food. This dish features double-fried chicken thighs tossed with gochujang sauce, sesame seeds, green onions, and pickled cucumber (called “namasu.”) Gochujang is a popular Korean condiment used in cooking that is savory, sweet, and salty. The Korean fried chicken bowl is available at multiple resorts throughout Walt Disney World: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. It will be hard to miss!
Vietnamese Coffee Cupcake – Sprinkles Cupcakes in Disney Springs
This decadent cupcake is infused with Nguyen Coffee Supply’s Loyalty Blend. Nguyen Coffee Supply was founded in 2018 as America’s first specialty Vietnamese coffee company. They sell coffee made from Robusta beans, which have a stronger taste than sweeter Arabica beans. Stronger coffee is preferred over sweeter coffee in Vietnam, but this cupcake in America is filled with creamy condensed milk buttercream and finished with coffee frosting. This is only available through May 14, so I’ll have to get this first!
Curry-spiced Pizza – Connections Eatery in EPCOT
This Indian-inspired dish tops pizza dough with tikka masala, carrot, potato, peas, tomato, plant-based mozzarella, and lime “yogurt” (it’s not quite a dressing, but not quite a sauce). I have had similar flavors in a taco in Austin and it was absolutely delicious, so I’m expecting this dish to taste close to it. Connections Eatery is located towards the middle of EPCOT, so it will be a great snack after riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Kakigori – Caravan Road in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Kakigori dates back to Japan’s Heian period (794 to 1185), where Chinese influence was on the decline and Japan’s national culture matured. During this period, blocks of ice were saved during the colder months and would then be shaved and served with sweet syrup the following summer. In Disney, this dessert will be flavored with watermelon syrup and sweetened condensed milk. In Asian cultures, desserts are usually not too sweet and are more fruit-based, so the sweetened condensed milk will appeal to American Disney-goers.
There are many other foods that represent more AAPI cultures, but unfortunately, I can’t be at Walt Disney World forever to try them all. Whether you make it to Disney to try these foods or not, take some time this month to discover some of your own favorite AAPI dishes!