After years of wishing and waiting we finally FINALLY made it to Jiko- The Cooking Place and I have two takeaways. One- we are total fools for waiting SO LONG to try it. Two- I need to go back. Ready to get hungry? Keep reading!
Jiko- The Cooking Place is a Signature Dining experience in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It has an eclectic mix of more familiar “American” dishes and more authentic African inspired items. Although we all ended up ordering the steak we still liked having the option of more unusual dishes and are excited to go back and try more! Like all signature restaurants I’ve experienced in Disney, Jiko went to incredible lengths to make sure I had not only an incredibly delicious meal but also an incredibly easy, normal feeling, gluten free experience. It was wonderful!
One thing we loved about Jiko was the decor of the restaurant itself. There are incredible details and little touches everywhere, our favorite were the birds on the ceiling. Jiko is named The Cooking Place in part because of the two massive wood burning stoves that you can see in the heart of the restaurant along with this section of an open kitchen. There are a variety of seating options and we were actually seated in the wine room (and let me apologize now, the lighting was very dark and while I tried my best to capture it I think another trip back to get some better shots is definitely in order!). There is also window seating and booths all with beautiful views.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to honestly some of the best food anywhere on property with its other dining locations Boma and Sanaa. I’ve always seen a little bit of competition between Sanaa and Jiko and while Sanaa wins on the views front (I mean you’re on ground level WITH a safari!), I have to give the best food award to Jiko hands down. I know some people debate between the bread service at the two and while Sanaa has more options it was a no brainer for me. The Jiko bread service was without a doubt among the best food I’ve ever had anywhere EVER!
It wasn’t only that the dips they give you are incredible (which they are) or the special goats milk butter is ridiculously good (which it is), most of all it was the papadam. Papadam is an Indian lentil based cracker-bread which I usually rank as a passable means of transporting hummus and other dips. This papadam was life changing though. I’m not exaggerating. It had a much more mild flavor than papadam usually has, it was incredibly delicious and changed the way I look at papadam. They brought out the naan which also comes with this appetizer on a separate platter and I spooned all the dips I wanted onto my plate before handing it off to David and friends to be devoured.
Moving on to entrees, like most Disney dining locations at this point Jiko had an allergy friendly menu and like most places they are also willing to modify off it. Even though the filet was not listed as gluten friendly (because of the mac and cheese that comes with it), they were happy to make the steak for me with a different side that would be safe for me. I went with the cassava-potato pure and HOLY MOLY it was amazing. Buttery, maybe cheesy? It was so creamy and smooth, it was just shut the front door good. I STRONGLY suggest getting this side no matter what main you get! Honestly I might even ask if I can get an extra portion of it as a side dish next time, it was that good!
The steak was fantastic as well. It had a true seared crust on the outside but was juicy and tender on the inside. In the world of steaks, I would still rank Yachtsman higher but it was perfectly great for the price paid, nothing extraordinary but the asparagus and puree were definitely that extra mile amazing you’d expect from a signature experience. Also worth noting that all three of us ordered the same dish, the steak! We all loved it and David agreed that his side (the mac and cheese) was the star of the dish, it was truly incredible.
For dessert I had the typical option of sorbet and fruit or the option of panna cotta which I jumped on. I love panna cotta and pretty much always order it when offered. This vanilla bean one was great to start with but then with the fruit sauces that accompanied it it was definitely outstanding. I was super happy I ordered it! Especially because we went to Hollywood Studios after dinner where gluten free snacks (honestly desserts in general) are in quite short supply! By the time we got to Fantasmic David was wishing he had ordered a dessert too!
What do you guys think?
Have you been to Jiko? What was your favorite part? Where does it rank on your list of top Disney dining experiences?