Volcano Bay will be having its grand opening on May 25th, 2017, and that day can’t come soon enough. We may have to wait until it’s open to see how the new level of immersion that Universal has developed for the water theme park, but select media (including us) had the chance to experience one aspect of Volcano Bay that everyone is excited for – the food and drinks. During the event, Universal not only showcased many of their food items like the Belly Burger, Hawaiian Pizza, and the Jerked Mahi Sandwich, but they let us try a lot of the 60 items that will be available at Volcano Bay. If you’d like to save some reading, watch the video below to see my reaction to every food and beverage I tasted today, but scroll beyond for what I considered the best items and the worst!
To me, the best ribs are meaty with a deep, smoky flavor, a salty rub paired with a sweet barbecue sauce, and cooked to perfection so that meat falls off the bone. The Hawaiian Ribs that will be served at Volcano Bay check off every item on my list. It may not be hard to make a good rib, but Universal has stepped up their game and made a great rib.
Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Slider
Volcano Bay’s food is inspired by the Pacific islands and the Pulled Pork Slider is the go-to delicacy. Just like the rib meat, the pulled pork is perfectly cooked with just a hint of saltiness, which then balances out extremely well with pineapple slice and mango slaw. This has the potential to be the most popular food item when Volcano Bay opens its doors.
I’m a sucker for a good fish dish, so I was excited to try the Mahi and very happy to report that it did not disappoint. The Mahi didn’t have even the slightest fishy taste to it, but was seared exceptionally well. The fish is served with bonita mash and black beans, and if you mix all of the items together you won’t regret it.
Poke Poke Bowl
It is very hard to get great Tuna Poke in Orlando, but I’m glad to report that Volcano Bay didn’t screw this dish up. The Ahi Tuna is tossed in a soy honey vinaigrette, and I’m pretty sure I tasted some avocado, onions, and mango pieces mixed in with the fish as well. The vinaigrette and other ingredients never outweighed the taste of the tuna, and if you didn’t know, there is nothing better than fresh sushi-grade Ahi Tuna.
Tiki drinks typically are way too sweet for my palate, so I was nervous trying Volcano Bay’s concoctions, especially because the mixed drinks at vacation destinations tend to be even sweeter than your average bar. The Guavaruma, made with Mt. Gay Rum, Guava Juice, Pineapple Juice, and Sprite, should’ve been way too sweet for me, but it ended up being absolutely refreshing. The Sprite managed to cut down the sweetness from the juices and added a wonderful spritz that would be divine on a hot summer day.
This beer brewed for Volcano Bay was my favorite thing of the day. The tropical fruit forward pilsner will appeal to those who enjoy a lighter beer, but still creative enough to please craft brew fans. In just one day it has surpassed all other specialty beers at Universal Orlando for me. See ya later Duff Beer, I have a new love named Volcano Blossom.
Coconut Curry Shrimp
I am a huge fan of all curry, especially coconut curry, so this was a major letdown. This dish is made two ways – with shrimp and with chicken. The chicken was better than the shrimp, but still not amazing. The problem with the shrimp was all in the sauce. It was far too watery and tasted more like shrimp and rice soup. The green coconut curry sauce wasn’t bad, but this dish as a whole needs to be perfected. I would try the chicken version again in the future, but with great hesitation.
Guava Tapioca Pudding
I am a fan of guava as well as tapioca pudding, so I have no idea what went wrong here. One bite in and I was ready to split it out. Something about the flavors just didn’t mesh well together. I understand that this dessert is very popular in South America, but maybe it is prepared differently or with fresher ingredients?
Vol’s Fire Punch
You may remember that the Guavaruma made my best list, so it’s odd to have Vol’s Fire Punch on the worst considering it is essentially the same drink. It’s also made with Mt. Gay Rum, Pineapple Juice, and Sprite, but the Guava Juice is replaced with Falernum and Agave, and the sweetness is increased 1000 percent. One sip in and I had to stop instantly out of fear of future cavities. This drink may appeal for some, but it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.
I’m not a huge fanatic when it comes to ice cream, but the stuff they served us today was GOOD. There will be eight flavors of ice cream sold at Volcano Bay with the option to have them twister together, which is how we enjoyed the cold treat. The flavors blended together well, but our group consensus was there will be at least a banana, blueberry, orange, and strawberry flavor.
Overall, the food and beverage for Volcano Bay is exactly what Universal promised – it is interesting, fits in with the theme, and is anything but water park quality. When creating the food and drink options for Volcano Bay, Universal’s approach was wildly unique. They wanted you to feel like the food was necessary in the water theme park, the same way you can’t walk into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter without getting a Butterbeer or head into Springfield without buying a Duff Beer. With this in mind, Universal completely succeeded with Volcano Bay’s dining options and I can’t wait to head in on May 25th and try the rest!