Jiko – The Cooking Place is a Signature Dining Experience located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan it is two table service credits. You must have reservations and adhere to the restaurant’s dress code.
Jiko is African themed, but modern. I love how they were able to mix the traditional African décor with contemporary décor. It was beautiful! The restaurant does host an open show kitchen; however, we were not seated near it, so we were not able to enjoy watching the chefs. I wish we had requested to be seated near the kitchen so my girls could have watched. There were probably only two other children in Jiko beside my own.
The menu consists of a blend of traditional African, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine. Steak, chicken, seafood, vegan and vegetarian dishes are infused with a uniquely bold blend of tantalizing flavors and fragrant spices. The menu changes seasonally, but may consist of selections such as peri peri chicken with herb-crushed potatoes, shrimp curry and oak-grilled filet mignon with sweet corn risotto. The children’s menu features pizza, grilled chicken served with mashed potatoes, and steak served with macaroni and cheese, veggies and fruit.
Food and Drink
Our server came over right away with some bread called Taste of Africa which consists of dabo (Ethiopian honey wheat) and flaxseed. This bread was amazing. For my entrée I had the oak grilled fillet mignon. The plating was unique, as you would expect in a restaurant like Jiko. They definitely take the time to make your meal look artistic. The fillet was grilled to perfection and was very flavorful. I loved the spices that were infused. The vegetables were also good, but I think they were slightly overcooked. My two year old veggie lover ate most of my vegetables. My picky eater eleven year had the same thing. She actually liked it, but I think she would have preferred eating at one of the more kid friendly restaurants.
For dessert I had the cheesecake, which I loved. Jiko’s cheesecake consisted of white chocolate, toasted coconut, mango sauce, and pineapple chile sorbet. My chocoholic eleven year old had the chocolate and tea safari which consisted of a vanilla rooibos-Tanzanian chocolate cake, free form “kit kat” and green tea ice cream. She thought the cake was just okay, devoured the free form “kit kat”, and wouldn’t touch the green tea ice cream. I tried the ice cream and thought it was different, but not necessarily something that I would usually want.
The server noticed how much we loved the bread and even brought us back a box of it to take back to our hotel with us! Not many restaurants on the Disney property will do something like this, so it made my night. Of course, he was one of my overall favorite servers because of this.
Overall, I enjoyed Jiko; however, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so worried about my girls the entire time. I was worried about my daughter’s behavior and if my stepdaughter would actually eat what was on her plate the entire time. I would love to go back again, but I think next time we will send the girls to a more kid friendly restaurant with Grandpa and have a date night for my husband and I at Jiko.