I put most of my commentary on Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the first part of this day’s installment, so the rest will be mostly photos until we get to the part about dinner at one of Universal’s resort restaurants.
One of the tips we got from JuLu was to go back to WWoHP for the last hour of park operation, and it was a good one. The crowds were lighter, we got to see what Hogsmeade looked like at night, and we were able to ride Forbidden Journey three times in a row! (This was really fun, but I think three’s my tummy’s limit.) And since the lines were nonexistent, we were able to take even MORE under-exposed photos of the ride…
As we were nudged out at the end of the night, we saw them setting up for a private event. This is what the DIS Boards’ December event in WWoHPwould look like if they were actually going to feed us!
Seeing this cute chocolate frog display makes me sad that none of the candy we got from Honeydukes was any good. The packaging is fantastic, but the quality of the candy is crummy. You’d think that JK Rowling woulda been more particular about that, coming as she does from the land of Cadbury… I’d be willing to pay more for the stuff if it actually tasted good!
Here’s the Butterbeer cart, which is to be avoided if you don’t like to stand in line. Jensey says the drink tastes better outta the cart than inside the Hog’s Head, though. If we do go to the DIS Boards event, I promise to try it at both places and report!
We snapped pictures all the way out of Islands of Adventure. Like Hollywood Studios, it’s much more pleasant at night.
After we left the park, we headed for the boats to the various Universal resort hotels. Our destination was the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, where we had reservations at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, otherwise known as “Orlando’s Most Needlessly Impossible-To-Spell Restaurant.” I think to get the boat we had to cross the bridge back toward Universal CityWalk. I also think some running was involved when I saw that the boat was about to depart, and I think it turned out to be the wrong boat.
I picked Tchoup Chop for dinner because I liked the sound of its Asian fusion menu, and it looked gorgeous in photos. I’d never been to any of Emeril’s restaurants, so I wasn’t sure whether it’d be a sort of “in name only” experience, like Wolfgang Puck’s, or actually display the discernable influence of the chef, like Todd English’s bluezoo.
The décor was amazing—way more over-the-top exotic than any Disney Signature restaurant I can think of.
There’s a pond running the length of the restaurant, and we got to sit right next to it.
Instead of bread you get these addictive shrimp chips with garlicky dipping sauce. We couldn’t stop eating these.
When we told our server we were going to each get a dish, eat half, and then switch, she said the kitchen could make us each a duo plate! So we each got half a portion of two entrees: “Mochi Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops with Thai Sticky Rice, Broccolini and Creamy Lobster-Infused Smoked Bacon-Corn Sauce” plus “Tender Sake Braised Beef Short Ribs on Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes with Hoisin-Honey-Infused Veal Jus.” Say THAT 10 times fast!
If there was really as much going on in each dish as its description claimed, most of the elements were canceling each other out. The sea scallops had that not-so-fresh metallic taste, and the short ribs were just sort of a bland, beefy mush. Boo!
For dessert I had the Coconut Baked Alaska because, hey, how often do you see Baked Alaska on a menu? It had a dense coconut cake and coconut ice cream under a pile of meringue with chocolate drizzled on top. Pretty dang tasty!
Patrick had a trio of sorbet flavors that I don’t remember what they were… I’m gonna guess they were coconut, mango and lychee. I remember there was lychee. He liked them OK.
Overall, I guess I’d have to try Tchoup Chop at least once more to give it a fair shot, but it struck me as the kind of place that the celebrity chef slaps his name on, glances over the opening menu, and then forgets about.
After dinner we poked around the Royal Pacific Resort trying to get photos for PassPorter. Like the Polynesian, it has a South Seas theme, but they were definitely going for more of a refined, classy version. I have a sneaking suspicion that the rooms are not nearly as upscale as the public areas. This is the cheapest of the three resorts at Universal, and from what I’ve seen of the rooms at the most expensive resort, the décor is pretty generic and bland.
We had about a 15-minute wait for the boat back to Universal CityWalk with a group of stogie-smoking expense-account types and their token female co-worker, who was vainly pretending the smoke didn’t bother her or, you know, everyone else at the dock.
Onward to the car!