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Jolene Eats at Disney's Animal Kingdom

As I mentioned in my Animal Kingdom park review, Disney's Animal Kingdom is my favorite Disney World park. In addition to the exciting rides, unique experiences and unrivaled aesthetic, the food really made our visit extra special.

I have to make a confession here: we were given Joffrey's coffee in our hotel room, and I was so excited to drink it... but honestly, I couldn't stand it. Therefore, I waited until we were in the park to visit its resident Starbucks.

That being said, our first sort-of meal was more of a snack, and we visited the famous Yak & Yeti, located in the Asia section of the park, near Expedition Everest. I'd read about this place on countless blogs, and I was thrilled when our schedule opened up and our stomaches requested a snack. The recommended item to order is the chicken fried rice, so we ordered a side of that to share, along with some egg rolls.

Yak & Yeti has a sit-down restaurant, but when we noticed there was no chicken fried rice on the menu, we chose the counter-service side. The lines were not long, and we got our food pretty quickly after presenting our receipt at the pick-up window. It was very easy to find seating around the back - at first glance space seems limited, but Yak & Yeti has ample, comfortable seating.

Now, being Asian, I am not easily impressed by fried rice (unless my mom makes it), and I normally do not care for eggrolls. The good news is I really enjoyed both items we ordered! So much of mass-produced fried rice runs the risk of far too much soy sauce, but Yak & Yeti seemed to have the perfect amount of seasoning, and what tasted like miso. It gave the rice a great depth of flavor. The rice and the eggrolls were the perfect snack before our large dinner.

I knew I wanted reserved seating for Rivers of Light along with a good meal, so a dining package was a perfect fit. Our reservation was for an early dinner at 5PM, and we came hungry! There were two restaurant options for the dining package, and after evaluating the menus, I chose Tiffins, the more extravagant option. Dining packages generally come with three courses: one non-alcoholic drink, one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert. You can choose whatever option you'd like, regardless of the price of the items chosen. Basically, you're getting a great deal for three courses.

Tiffins has a fairly humble exterior, and we completely missed it when we first walked by it earlier in the day. I was pleasantly surprised by the upscale, peaceful ambiance we experienced as we entered - I felt fairly out of place with my Kanken backpack and casual clothes, but then I remembered we were indeed still in a Disney theme park.

Our server began our experience by letting us know in which room we were seated, and how that room was themed. Tiffins is inspired by travel and is perfectly cohesive with the rest of the park. There was beautiful artwork lining the walls of our dining area, and our server even explained some of their significances.

For my appetizer, I chose the charred octopus with romesco sauce, olive tapenade, chorizo, squid ink aïoli. Pretty exotic, huh? Well, you all should know by now I'm a pretty exotic eater, and I absolutely adored this dish. The octopus was unbelievably tender, not rubbery or chewy whatsoever. The char added a strong but not overpowering smokiness, and the squid ink aioli was almost my favorite part of the dish. My travel buddy Jennifer chose the charcuterie plate, so we both shared both appetizers. Both were absolutely incredible.

Next, I went all out and ordered the surf and turf for my entree, grilled local beef tenderloin, vanilla butter-poached lobster tail, whipped truffle potatoes, and charred broccolini. What a dish! I ordered my beef medium rare, and it was absolutely perfect. The lobster was not overdone or rubbery, and strangely, I enjoyed the subtle vanilla notes. It was almost sweet but still savory. And of course, who doesn't like anything with truffle oil in it?

Lastly, I enjoyed the dessert trio. Our server joked that the trio is perfect for "people who can't decide on a dessert." I knew I wanted one of them, so I didn't have trouble deciding, but I also wanted to try as many items as possible so I chose the trio, which consisted of: South American chocolate ganache with caramelized banana and espresso sponge, passion fruit tapioca créme with chocolate crumble, and whipped cheesecake with Amarula panna cotta, and sesame crumbs. I also ordered a hot tea (we were still wet and kind of cold from the rain storm + air conditioning) to have with my dessert. Tiffins has a wonderful tea and coffee selection that are included with the package.

My favorite of the three was not what I thought it was going to be - it was actually the passion fruit tapioca! It was tangy and sweet, but balanced by the cream and perfectly finished off by the crumble. Even though I am a chocolate lover, the ganache was too rich for me; not too bitter, but just too rich. The cheesecake was great but I wish there had been more - especially more of the panna cotta. Overall, it was a wonderful end to one of my favorite meals of the week.

We were given our Rivers of Light tickets with the bill, which we presented to the cast members at the amphitheater seating. It was a great investment, a delicious meal, and a convenient way to end the night!

So there it is, our eating at Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Until next time,

Happy wandering!

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