Dining at Boma - Flavors of Africa

Feature Article

This article appeared in the May 15, 2001 Issue 86 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

In Africa, "Boma, a Kraal-style fence made of sticks, is an open and natural space which provides a safe and sheltered area in the bush. In the evening, its golden light pours out as the fire used for cooking lights the dinner table." It is not uncommon for a restaurant to be called Boma.

This 270-seat restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge serves a breakfast and dinner buffet unlike any you have experienced in Walt Disney World, or perhaps anywhere. Rather than a traditional continuous buffet line, Boma offers a variety of stations or "pods." Instead of lining up at one end of the buffet and slowly moving through the entire food line, the various pods offer diners the opportunity to walk up to the station of their choice and explore. The open bakery and kitchen ensure that foods are as fresh as possible.

Food dishes are not individually labeled, which at first, can be a tad intimidating. However, as with all things Disney, there is a reason for this! According to Chef Jay T. Smith, the intent is for guests to interact with the chefs about the food offerings, to learn, to experiment and to break out of traditional "American" ways of dining.

By my second visit, instead of asking what was "in" something, I just checked with the chef to make sure the dish was free of items I am allergic to (like shellfish). Each time I returned, I found myself more relaxed and willing to try the various food combinations available.

If you happen to be in the DAKL lobby about 5:15pm on any given day, you will be treated to the beautiful harmonious voices of the cultural representatives that work in Boma and Jiko. They gather just outside the front door and wind their way through the lobby, downstairs past the Victoria Falls Lounge, into Jiko and finally through Boma! Dinner is then served!

Boma Breakfast..... WOW!!
By Deb Wills

Start your breakfast off in the spirit of Africa with Kenyan coffee, served in a coffee press, followed by a glass of Fru-nch, a combination of lemonade, pinapple juice, guava juice, orange juice and papaya juice. It's cold, fresh, tasty and not too sweet! If you aren't feeling adventurous just yet, regular orange juice is offered!

Now, head on up to the buffet, where you will find a tasty offering of both traditional American breakfast foods, as well as some traditional African foods.

Starting on the left is a wide variety of breads, muffins, pastries, and danish, not to mention some wonderful scones! The spreads include traditional butter and jellies and a wonderful sundried tomato cream cheese unlike any I have had.

Plenty of fruits, dried and fresh, including melons, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, papaya, and mangos are on display, followed by a wide array of cereals, including granola, raisin bran, Rice Krispies and Fruit Loops.

Looking for an omelet? The chef will be glad to make one for you with the filling of your choice. Of course, all the accompaniments to eggs including potatoes (with red and green peppers), bacon and sausage are offered.

A tasty brioche, a light rich roll made with flour, eggs, butter, yeast and raisins highlighted my next plate of goodies. I added a little syrup and was quickly back up for a second piece.

One pod in particular commanded my attention. It had three large pots -- in front of them were small bowls with dried fruits, brown sugar and cinnamon. I decided these held grits, oatmeal -- but I wasn't quite sure what the last one was. I soon found out! I was right about the oatmeal, but the surrounding pots were pap and quinoa porridge.

Pap is white corn meal that resembles Italian polenta. A variety of items are prepared with this versatile side dish. For breakfast the pap looks just like common grits, but for dinner it is served in small cubes. At the suggestion of the chef, I put some of the dried fruit and cinnamon on the quinoa porridge (declaring it a winner) and mixed the pap with dried fruit (which didn't do much for me). However, I did return to the pap a little later.

Boboti is another of the versatile foods that I found at both breakfast and dinner (each with a slight variation). For breakfast, it was quiche-like, with corned beef, eggs, cream, potato and onion. I'm not much of a morning corned beef eater, so while it wasn't offensive, I decided it wasn't for me. Sitting next to the boboti was a vegetable quiche and a tomato, cheese and bacon quiche.

The rotisserie area is not to be missed, whether you are dining during breakfast or dinner! On this particular morning there was ham and pork loin. The pork loin was tender and flavorful -- if I hadn't had so much else on my plate, I would have enjoyed more of it! Next were two sausages, a Moroccan lamb sausage (which I did not try) and a chicken, apple, and cinnamon sausage which was wonderful. The spices blended nicely with the chicken, and the apple was flavorful, yet not overpowering.

Vors is South African sausage served with pap. I had several pieces of the chicken and apple sausage, added a few spoonfuls of pap and mixed it together. Wow, did those flavors fill my mouth! I actually really enjoyed it, although it was a bit too rich for me in the early morning.

For me Boma raises the bar for breakfast at WDW. I dined here twice and found the food consistently good! Boma is the best breakfast available on property!!

And then there's Boma at dinnertime...
By Debra Martin Koma

When you're trying to accommodate a large group for dinner, it's hard to find something that's going to please everybody. Luckily we managed to do just that, when 12 us went for dinner at Boma, the new buffet at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Members of our group ran the gamut from the very adventurous to the very conservative, eating-wise, yet somehow everyone managed to find just what they liked -- in fact, that they loved!

On the recommendation of our server, Gilbert, I started my meal with a cup of the oxtail stew. Hearty and flavorful, and served on bed of creamy ellow saffron rice, this slightly spicy stew would ave made a satisfactory meal in and of itself. Others at our table raved about the coconut chicken curried soup, remarking at the delicate and exotic flavor, reminiscent of a Thai dish.

I attempted to sample as many of the numerous salads also offered, from the mixed veggies with couscous to the grapefruit-papaya-avocado salad, the African melons in port wine reduction to the Africanized version of red cabbage cole slaw whimsically dubbed Kool Slaai.

At the main entree station, I found the traditional rare prime rib and roast pork quite succulent, but the spicy mixed chicken parts and barbecued ribs were a little on the dry side, and the fish of the day, a steamed mahi mahi, was prepared a bit too rare for my taste.

Side dishes included savory "potatoes with Afritude", rather dry but tasty vegetable-lentil kofta balls, and a delicious curried spinach. I also sampled the polenta-like cornmeal pap, a perfect bland accompaniment to some of the spicier dishes, and the fufu, a sweet potato and spice mash.

At the bread table, I found a variety of rustic rolls and African flatbreads, as well as many whole-grain traditional breads -- all were fresh and plentiful.

And then there were the desserts! What a beautiful cornucopia for those of us with a whole head full of sweet teeth!

Most popular with our group was the Zebra Domes, individual round chocolate mousse sporting zebra stripes and on a bed of fresh grated coconut. I also sampled the guava fruit squares, which were a fruit crisp made with the not-too-sweet exotic fruit, as well as the deceptively pretty passion fruit tartlets, light and creamy, but they left a sickeningly sweet aftertaste. There were also Simba's brownies, with a cute cocoa powder pawprint on it, and a multi-layered chocolate truffle-like cake. Despite my best efforts, I fear I didn't take a taste of each of the scrumptious desserts on display -- but there's always next time!

Go to Boma. Start slow and easy and begin to experiment! The African foods do not have overpowering spices -- rather they blend and complement the food. The great thing about buffets is that you can take a tiny spoonful just to taste... if you like it, go back for more!

Don't forget the Boma Wines.... Boma's winelist pales in comparison to Jiko's, but doesn't mean you won't have some wonderful selections to choose from. Ten very hard to obtain South African Wines by the bottle and some by the glass are available. Jiko Manager Suzanne Bonham offers a selection of white and red South African wines to complement the flavors of Africa offered at Boma.

For a white wine, I recommend the Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia '99. For reds, I enjoyed both the Warwick Old Bush Vine Pinotage, Stellenbosch and the Freedom Road Cabernet Sauvignon, Paarl. Be sure to have your server tell you the story behind the Freedom Road Winery! Boma's house wines are from Cape Indaba. After 5 nights of dining at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, I am very excited about the South African Wines I tasted! In case you aren't feeling adventurous, there are several American wines available including an Estancia Chardonnay and a Kenwood Pinot Noir.

Boma serves breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. until 11 a.m.. From 7 until 7:45ish, the place is fairly empty! Cost for Adults is $14.95; children 3-11 are $9.95. Tax and gratuity are additional.

Boma serves dinner from (5:30 p.m.- 10:00 p.m.) Dinner is $19.95 for adults; $8.95 for children. Tax and gratuity additional.

Priority Seatings are accepted 120 days in advance. You will be asked to secure your Priority Seating time with a credit card number. A cancellation fee of $10 per person will be charged to the card if you cancel with less than 24 hours or do not show up at all. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a secure resort, meaning unless you are staying there OR have a priority seating in your name, you will not be granted entry.

Be sure to check out the Boma menus on AllEars:

Breakfast: http://allears.net/dining/menu/boma/breakfast

Dinner: http://allears.net/dining/menu/boma/dinner


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.