*This dining experience took place in December 2016.
Jiko: The Cooking Place, a signature table service restaurant, is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. African inspired, it features an upscale menu with unique flavors. I’ve had hit or miss experiences with Jiko, but I had a wonderful experience last fall when dining at the chef’s counter.
On this particular occasion, we dined at Jiko for Brandon’s birthday. Last year, we went to Artist Point which was fabulous, but we knew we wanted to do something different this year. We both love the atmosphere and ambiance in Jiko, especially that the restaurant actually changes color throughout your meal, in order to represent an African Sunset.
We went with a medium size group and were seated in the cozy booths in the back of the restaurant.
Jiko carries an allergy-friendly menu, though it’s important to note that you can ask for a chef at any time. I chose to order on the menu, without a chef consult on this visit, though I often do ask to speak with a chef.
I’m not sure what it is about signature dining restaurants, but they always seem to carry Ener-G rolls, which are allergy-friendly and vegan. I’m not a big fan of these, as they turn hard as a rock almost immediately, so I was definitely disappointed to see these rolls. I much prefer the Deanna’s Gluten Free (formerly known as GNI Brand Rolls), which are also allergy friendly and so much tastier.
I was served a side of butter with sea salt, but you can easily get extra virgin olive oil upon request. I didn’t really eat the rolls because they were not very well heated.
On a side note, Brandon did order a cheese plate, and I’m assuming you could easily get it gluten free with some slight modifications.
While the rolls were really disappointing, I was more than pleasantly surprised with my entree. I decided to get the 7 oz Oak-grilled Filet Mignon with Pumpin Pap “Isidudu,” Brussels Sprouts, Caramelized Onions, and a South African Red Wine Sauce. This dish contains dairy, but can be modified to be dairy free, as well as gluten free (you’d get marble potatoes instead of pap, etc.)
Wow. The flavors in this dish were outstanding. The filet was perfectly cooked and tender (served butterfly style) and the pap was creamy and delicious. The absolute stars of the dish were the Brussels Sprouts (my favorite), caramelized onions, and red wine sauce. I could have drank that red wine sauce; it was that good!
There were a lot of dishes on the menu that I was interested in. Normally, I don’t go for beef, but I’m glad I did. This was super delicious and a perfect meal for a birthday celebration. I’m also partial to the maize crusted fish, which I’ve had gluten free & dairy free on several occasions and is delicious.
Have you been to Jiko? What is your favorite menu item to order when you go there?