REVIEW: Jiko – The Cooking Place Reopens with Delicious New Dishes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Jambo! We attended the reopening of this fan-favorite signature restaurant, Jiko – The Cooking Place, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s been closed since March 2020, and a few menu changes were announced recently. We’re ready to try some new dishes, and certainly ready to revisit some old favorites.
Here is a glance at the menu before walking in.
We were welcomed by Cast Members while walking in.
There are plenty of details throughout the restaurant. If you look up, you can see birds taking flight.
You may also be able to spot a hidden Mickey.
Our table was beautifully set up with folded napkins and more.
New with the reopening was this Egyptian and giraffe bread that was also brought out with Jiko butter and black sea salt. The butter is sprinkled with the black sea salt, which gives a nice salty kick when you get some in a bite. The black sea salt was new at the reopening of The Turf Club Bar and Grill as well.
We also received hand towels that are rose-scented and plates specifically for the appetizers.
While many that have visited Jiko in the past rave about its flatbreads, we were never impressed. However, this is a flatbread that you simply must order. The flavorful duck, the rich cheese, and the spicy harissa on the back end of each bite make for a memorable entry.
It is a sizeable appetizer, probably too much for two people, but it is worth noting the crust is light, crispy, and airy.
With the Injera, the servers bring by a mat for the basket to be placed on. The Injera is meant to be eaten with your hands, so they brought us a hot towel first.
This is a really creative take on building your own crêpe essentially. Each of the plant-based sides were hearty and flavorful and added its own unique bite to every “taco.” The Injera itself was light and spongey. The harissa had a good bite.
This is a good vegan dish and was very filling. We recommend. The stews switch out seasonally.
Here are closer shots of the plant-based sides, including the tomato salad.
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While this may appear to be the classic dish at first glance, some major changes have occurred. The finish has been changed to a chocolate-red wine demi-glace, as opposed to just red wine, but the new topping also has bone marrow in it. The steak was not as tender as we recall, but the flavors are certainly more powerful. There is a charred, explosive flavor in each bite which we think will please most.
The four cheese macaroni and cheese is still the real reason to come to Jiko. This is not only one of the best side dishes in all of Walt Disney World, it might be one of the best items you can find in all of the Vacation Kingdom. It is rich, the pasta is nice and soft, and it is packed with cheese, from the well crippled top layer, to the creamy white liquid that covers each bite.
The cauliflower was well-cooked also, if perhaps slightly over-salted.
This is a fantastic dish. The saffron couscous was perfectly light and airy. You get saffron in each bite. The seafood was not fishy and all cooked to perfection. Each seafood element went well with the couscous.
The prawn added an authentic feel to the dish and made for a great photo op. We were also given a small plate to place the shells on. We recommend this dish and would order again.
The Tuile had a slight sweetness and a nice crunch. The ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The bird cookie broke easily and had a great sugar cookie-like texture.
The small cakes had a crispy exterior and a soft interior. They were rum-soaked, had a prominent alcohol taste, and had a good sweetness to them. All in one bite, there was a great balance of texture and cinnamon sweetness.
Melktert – $12
African Milk Custard Tart seasoned with Cinnamon and Cardamom accompanied by Fresh Fruit
This is a milk custard tart with cinnamon and cardamom, on top of a graham cracker-like crust. It’s great. It is a little milky but when eaten together with the fruit, it’s delicious.
The fruit brings a fresh taste into the milk tart. The fruit is pomegranate and watermelon. The crumble is buttery and spiced well. It adds a crunch into the tart.
Kilimanjaro – $15
Single-Origin Ghanaian Dark Chocolate Mousse, Pistachio Financier, Pink Peppercorn Meringue, Cocoa Nib Crunch, Ras el Hanout Pineapples
This is a rich chocolate paired with pistachio. The chocolate cocoa crust had a layer of chocolate over it. The mousse was the perfect texture and the layer of pistachio inside added an ever-so-slightly salty nutty element.
The pink peppercorn meringue topping was subtle and the pineapple and fruit drops added a fresh bit of sweetness.
Mt. Kilimarita – $14
Patron Silver Tequila, Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, Citrus, and Cranberry Juice
This was delicious! It comes with half the rim salted and a lime slice. It was strong, but not too strong. You can taste every flavor in the drink.
The citrus and cranberry complement each other perfectly. It is not too sweet and not too sour. It is just perfect and we would get it again.
Maputo Highball – $14
7yr Oak Aged African Starr Rum, Ginger Ale, Bitters
The Highball is a refreshing cocktail with high quality rum. It is a strong cocktail and you will definitely feel like you have had a drink after half a glass.
This was a slightly sweet, well-balanced old fashioned. The orange bitters are prominent with the whiskey, and the vanilla is very subtle on the backend of each sip.
The President of Walt Disney World, Jeff Vahle, posted a photo of the Cast Members on his Instagram account, celebrating the reopening of Jiko.
Overall, this is a meal that shouldn’t be missed. Animal Kingdom Lodge boasts the finest culinary teams in all of Walt Disney World, and probably at any Disney venue worldwide. Sanaa, Boma, and Jiko are diverse offerings that are all at the top of their respective dining categories property-wide. We never get tired of any of these restaurants, and they are absolute musts for each visit.