Reader Reviews

Submit Your Jiko - The Cooking Place Review


We ate at Jiko for dinner on the night of October 17th. We had a PS for 6:00, but arrived early after leaving the Animal Kingdom after the 5 pm close and were seated right away. My picky eaters gave this restaurant 5 stars! The service, atmosphere and food were all wonderful.

We ordered the duck and pork firecracker and taste of Africa appetizers. My 10 year old son was very reluctant but finally had a taste. He ended up eating three helpings of bread with hummus. Both appetizers were excellent and had something we all liked. For dinner I ordered the Halibut and my husband had the Salmon. Both dinners had a unique seasonings and sauces and were heaped with veggies. We ate from both plates until we were stuffed! My son ordered the filet of beef. It came with two good sized filets and mashed red potatoes. He ate every bite! Halfway through dinner my son looked at me and said, "this is the best food in the world!...no offense mom". Needless to say we were thrilled with our dinner, wine and the service. The waiter even took my son over and showed him how the oven worked for baking the flatbreads.

Other hints: We went to Animal Kingdom and took clothes suitable for the restaurant and put them in a locker. At the end of the day, we took the bus to AK Lodge and changed in the lobby restroom before our meal. After dinner we went outside and took a stroll along the savanna walkway and viewed the animals. The cast members from Africa were so friendly and informative. All-in-all a great experience! (Laura Radde, October 2005)


We ate at Jiko during our recent trip (September 3-10, 2005). The food was delicious, the atmosphere was romantic and relaxed, and the servers were very friendly. It was the best dinner we had during our stay there (and we ate at Boma, Le Cellier, Coral Reef, and Cantina San Angel) - truly memorable. Not all of the dishes are really African (even the house specialty - the halibut) - some are simply African influenced through their spices. Our server was very helpful in suggesting dishes to try. My husband had the Ahi Tuna appetizer and said it was the best Tuna appetizer he'd ever had. We shared the Pistachio Creme Brulee for dessert - delectable! My only regret was that we didn't have a microwave in our AKL room, as the portions were way too big and I wanted to save half of my chicken dish. (Charrisa Lin, September 2005)


During our recent stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we had the opportunity to eat at Jiko. Although trendy, the restaurant is well appointed with African art and beauty. Our server was very attentive and carefully explained the dinner specials. Most of the meals offered were standard fare, nothing too exotic. We all ordered from the menu. I had the braised spare ribs, my wife had the free-range chicken and my daughter had the pork tenderloin. Our meals were just outstanding. My spare ribs, with just the right touch of African spices, were the best I ever had. My wife and daughter also thoroughly enjoyed their meals. If you are looking for something special in terms of a romantic evening, I recommend Jiko, a bit pricey but well worth it. (David Carrano, August 2005)


My husband and I ate dinner at Jiko as an excuse to visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is an excellent restaurant for people who want to have a nice night away from the kids. We were seated by the window, with a view of the pool area and our server was quick and very attentive.

We both had South African themed cocktails and elected to order many small things from 'The Cooking Place' instead of full entrees. Our absolute favorite was the Kalamata Olive Flatbread - crisp with a variety of flavors that didn't overpower each other, and the mint something that came with the lamb pastis should be bottled. I can't say I would recommend this restaurant for people who aren't adventurous in their dining choices, because the flavor combinations are odd and sometimes didn't work, as in the very strange Creme Brulee. I'm not sure what it was made with, but it had a distinct grainy texture.

The food and ambience are definitely unique and well-suited to each other, and come together in a very nice package. It was also very reasonably priced. We looked at Boma afterwards and the food offered there, and decided we much preferred the menu at Jiko, but we probably wouldn't go out of our way to make a trip to either of them - only on a day when we are already at the Animal Kingdom late. (Jessica, August 2005)


My family and I ate at Jiko on July 17, 2005 and all 3 of us loved it. The atmosphere is awesome and the food was top rate. Our waitress was very helpful in selecting a wine because they only serve South African wines and she knew everything about each menu selection. We split the sampler platter as an appetizer and I had the lamb shank as a main plate. All of the servings are large and the desserts are incredible. Expect to pay a lot but to us it was worth the price! (Hayden Greenlief, July 2005)


We ate at Jiko (in the AKL) on our recent trip to Disney. This was the best meal we had on our trip and we had several great meals during our stay. I realize some people may be wary of the expense to try mainly South African food but it is extremely good and perhaps not as exotic as it seems. There are many Mediterranean type items on the menu which are more familiar to may people such as kalamata olives, and hummus. The flavors are not wildly spicy or strange, they are subtle and well balanced.

We tried the Taste of Africa appetizer which is an assortment of dips and breads. This nearly filled us up before the rest of our courses came. Then I tried the tomato and cucumber salad that everyone raves about in the reviews. Now I know why. Extremely light and refreshing it is the perfect palate cleanser before your main course. My boyfriend had the field greens which was more of a traditional salad but also excellent. I chose the chicken roasted with olives and preserved lemons. It was juicy and the skin crisp and seasoned and the meat delicately perfumed with the lemon. Absolute heaven! My boyfriend chose the short ribs, another winner. The meat was moist and melt-in-your-mouth tender. For dessert, I was the only one who could manage a few more bites. The pistachio creme brulee is rich and smooth.

Our server, Nasser, was from Morocco and beyond knowledgeable and helpful. If you are at all apprehensive about the food or wines, just ask and they are happy to help guide your selections. The wine list is phenomenal and you can always try a little before making your selection to ensure you will be pleased with a wine.

Please don't hesitate to go to Jiko. Especially if you have the dining plan. It is beyond worth it. The best dining experience you could have at disney in my opinion. (Candice Garcea, May 2005)


John and I really enjoy visiting some of WDW's restaurants, like Spoodles, just for appetizers and wine. While John and I were at WDW on our last visit, we dined at Jiko. This wasn't our first time there, but it was our first time at the bar at the "Cooking Place". Here is a little info from our visit:

The Cooking Place provides a wonderful opportunity to sit and watch the flatbreads and appetizers being put together! Right in front of us we watched as Melitiza and Jeannette, both from Puerto Rico, put together all the delicious appetizer plates that were being served to the many guests dining at Jiko that evening. Off to our left, Edwin, also from Puerto Rico, was making flatbreads and putting them into an oven to bake. Our server was Omar from Morocco. As we chose appetizers, he guided us to the most suitable wines. And he was quite good at it! And since John and I were not only sharing our appetizers (well, most of them…) we also tried each other's wine!

During our evening we shared glasses of Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc, Rodera Stellenbosch Syrah, Clos Malverne, Gamekeeper's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Anura Pinotage. Each was delicious and was a wonderful accompaniment to the appetizer we were having.

Speaking of appetizers, I started with the Taste of Africa (Kalamata Olive Hummus, Cilantro-Green Chili dip, and Moroccan Chermoula, with Lentil Papadam, whole wheat lavosh, and flaxseed Naan bread). This was a wonderful arrangement of dips and spreads to put on several different types of bread. I especially enjoyed the Cilantro-Green Chili dip. It was spicy without being too spicy, yet it was full of flavor.

John started with Roasted Warm Octopus (with tomato-caper salsa, black chickpeas and pea shoot salad) – which I DID not share! He said it was quite delicious and he enjoyed it very much.

Next I ordered Cucumber, Tomato and Red Onion Salad (with organic arugula, cottage cheese and watermelon vinaigrette) and watched as Melitiza prepared it! It was quite tasty but just a little "bland". It was neat the way it was prepared in a metal tube which was carefully removed to leave a stack of diced veggies!

John ordered both the Kalamata Olive Flatbread (with four cheeses, and Laura Chenel's soft goat cheese), and the Roasted Tomato and Spinach Flatbread (with manchego cheese and cilantro yogurt drizzle) for us to share. I absolutely LOVE the Kalamata flatbread! And we watched as Edwin put together our flatbreads and baked them!

As we sat there, we noticed Melitiza and Jeannette putting together a plate we couldn't find on the menu. So we asked them about it. Apparently there is a sampler platter that has some of the various appetizers on it. Things like Duck and Pork Firecracker - Hot Spring rolls with Hoisin sauce and jicama-apple slaw; Crispy Cinnamon Spiced Beef Roll - with vegetable banana dip; Lentil "Pastilla" - Lentil filled phyllo pockets with a sweet and sour sauce; Maize "Tamales" - truffle oil, fine herbs, and maize pudding wrapped in corn husks; and Lamb "Patis" - pulled lamb rolled in phyllo, onion salad, and mint-cilantro chutney.

We thanked them for the tip, knowing that we'd eagerly try that the next time we visited. (Donna and John, February 2005)


We tried to eat at Jiko while recently staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We had a priority seating for 8:15. We arrived about 8, and were told it would be a few minutes. We sat in the bar. We checked back several times and were always told it would be about 5 or 10 minutes. At 9 o'clock the hostess actually came over to us and told us it would be just another 5 or ten minutes. At this point my younger daughter had fallen asleep and the older one was begging to go upstairs and eat potato chips in the room. We declined to wait for the table, and went up to the room and ordered room service. So we have no idea how the food is, the service did not inspire us to return and find out. (Jennifer More, February 2005)


We had the best meal ever when we dined at Jiko. We started with lentil phyllo pastries and flatbread with spinach, tomatoes and cilantro sauce. Yum Yum Yum!!! I had the pork with sweet potato dumplings - DELISH!! My friend had the monkfish and loved it. We ordered the renfolds pinotage and had yet another surprise. I loved everything about this place. The decor, service, food, everything was incredible!!!!! (Francesca, January 2005)


We were terribly disappointed in Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge when we dined there early on New Year's Eve night. The staff was friendly enough, but the entree food was very disappointing. The flatbreads that we tried were very good, and, as a matter of fact, the best part of the meal. The majority of us ordered the "Pan Roasted Monkfish". Many of us had eaten it before at other places, but we were informed that it tasted like "Lobster." Imagine our surprise when our Roasted Monkfish came out breaded, fried. We don't mind paying for good food, but $28.50 is a lot to pay for a fried piece of fish. However, the sauce that it was in was excellent. Two people in the group ordered the famous macaroni & cheese after hearing about how wonderful it was. But, honestly, there was nothing special about it. (Jessica Warren, December 2004)


Animal Lodge's Jiko is absolutely fabulous. It's not cheap, but the food was great. My adult daughter and I have made Disney World our bonding trip destination for the last eight years. California Grill at the Contemporary Resort held our top recommendation, but has been replaced by Jiko. Second on our list of favorite restaurants is Flying Fish on the Boardwalk. We have never had a bad meal or unacceptable service at Flying Fish. If you're going to spend big bucks on dinner, I recommend Jiko and Flying Fish. (Julie Hogan, October 2004)


All I can say is: FANTASTIC!! Great food, great service. The best meal we've had in 5 days here! (Bryant Segovia, November 2004)


We decided to try a few new places to eat - Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge was one place we decided to try. We were seated about 15 minutes after our PS time. The hostess was not your typical friendly Disney cast member but the waitress was excellent. She helped with a wine selection, never made us feel rushed, and was on top of the service from the beginning to end. We started with the flatbreads, which the adults enjoyed but the kids did not particularly care for. We tried the short ribs and pork tenderloin - both were great! We were seated by a window and had a view of the pool, which was nice since it was raining and there was not a crowd. I'm not sure how much I would like that if the pool was crowded. But overall, the food and the service were wonderful and we will definitely be going back. (Clara Fuller, June 2004)


I visited Jiko during my Christmas 2003 visit to Disneyworld. This was my second visit, the first was over a year ago. This time, I was disappointed with both the food and the service.

The food was a shadow of a memory from our first trip. The appetizer of 3 African dips and breads were excellent, but the entrees fell flat. The Lamb Shank was completely different, lacking any sauce that was present the first time we tried it. This time it was dry and rather cold. It was as if they forgot the sauce! My wife's scallops in parchment paper were ok, but lacked in presentation and flavor.

The service was also poor. The waiter overstayed his welcome with long stories about the food, wine, etc. This caused him to get behind with us and other tables when our entrees were to be delivered. (This might explain my cold lamb shank.)

I will definitely try Jiko's again, but will be going to Boma's on my next visit in the spring! (Jeff, 12/03)

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