Friday, 10 May 2013

WDW: Signature Dining - Jiko @ Animal Kingdom Lodge


After a big day in the Animal Kingdom I made my way over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge . On arrival, I freshened up and change into some nicer clothes because I felt that as I was dining in a signature restaurant I should make an effort to be fresh and a little classy!

However, I was a little too early for my reservation so I took a stroll around the grounds and watched the zebras, giraffes and buffalo graze the 'savannahs' at sunset. These African animals are so beautiful and graceful and I could watch them forever (I have been lucky enough to travel through Africa and see these animals in the wild). This hotel would be lovely to stay at and wake up to see these majestic animals everyday.

When my reservation time came around, I made my way to Jiko and as I was dining solo I was promptly seated at the Meeting Place, where you can sit at the bar and watch what’s going on. Here the chefs the appetisers and the flatbreads here and is a perfect location for my viewing pleasure.

I was welcomed with open arms (quiet literally) and the chefs were amazing. General chit chat led to me mentioning that I was a huge foodie and loved food photography and cooking and all things food, so they went out of their way to make my experience the best they could offer. I was not disappointed! We chatted about living in Dubai and some of the top restaurants I had been to there, we chatted about their backgrounds and their careers and we discussed the menu!

For starters, the bread basket with tandoori butter. 

Bread basket with Tandoori butter

Gilled Wild Boar Tenderloin with Mealie Pap, Chakalaka, White Truffle Oil and Micro Cilantro
This dish, with its perfect presentation i a classical bit white bowl, was divine. The wild boar was medium rare, full of rich flavour, not as gamey as I had expected and so tender. The Mealie Pap was creamy and hot and the Chakalaka was tomatoey and tasty, laced with African spices….topped with white truffle oil…well you just can’t go wrong with truffle oil (particularly white truffle oil!) I was so close to picking the bowl up and licking it clean… but remembered where I was!

Now remember I had mentioned to the chef’s that I was a foodie and we had been discussing the menu….well they decided that I needed to taste test another entrée. They presented me with this.
Tibbs Wat in Pannekoeke (complementary sample)
As a complementary sampler who could say no? This was a tasty morsel, like a spring roll but not tasting like it at all…perfectly crisp it is filled with Tibbs Wat, which is a Ethiopian beef stew.

Maize crusted halibut with Vegetables of the Moment and Tomato-Butter Sauce
Perfectly cooked and amazing flavour….the tomato butter sauce was rich but light at the same time. The crust was cooked to perfection and the fish was flaky and moist.
Cheesecake & Blueberries
Disappointed that Jiko no longer offered their famous pistachio crème brulee, I opted to go for this dish. It was wonderfully presented. The cheesecake was light, creamy lemony and rich and the blueberry coulis was tart yet sweet. It was a good backup dessert.

However, when the chefs presented me with a surprise, I put it aside so I could marvel at the surprise dish!

Pistachio crème brulee (complementary sample)
 A secret dessert of pistachio creme brulee....I...AM...IN...HEAVEN! They keep a secret stash for those ‘VIP’s’ and I was feeling very special and loved tonight...the Chefs behind the Meeting Place were so attentive and thoughtful (even though I was reaching gut busting levels!).

On my departure the chef’s and waiters presented me with a menu that they had all personal signed. Very sweet and a wonderful way to leave.
My experience at Jiko was absolutely Disney perfect. It was definitely a night for Disney Magic (as if I hadn’t been given enough with my Deluxe Resort Villa upgrade!)….I can’t recommend Jiko enough…and definitely a must do!!

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