The Wanyama Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–Post Two: The Meal at Jiko

Welcome to Part Two of my Wanyama Safari Tour review.  If you are just joining me, you’ve happened upon the best part of the tour–the meal!  In Part One I shared the details of the Safari itself.  In my opinion, each part of this tour was worth the time and money on its own.  Together they are a fantastic deal.

WARNING:  This post should not be read when hungry!

Upon returning to Animal Kingdom Lodge proper, we were escorted back to Jiko for our post-safari meal.  Much to my surprise, we were seated smack dab in the middle of the dining room.  I guess I really shouldn’t have been so surprised–after all, what better way to advertise this experience than force other diners to stare in wonder at the bounty that was about to be delivered to our table.  And what a bounty it was!  Before embarking upon this tour, I wondered if the family-style meal would be enough to fill us up as our only dinner.  I have to laugh at that now, as this was, by far, the most food I’ve ever eaten in one sitting.  Ever.

While the entire meal was chef-selected and served family style, we were still given menus so that we knew what we’d be eating.  I tried to take a photo of the menu…

…but as you can see, there was so much on it that it didn’t really fit in the shot!  I ended up taking a photo of the top half and then the bottom half, as I knew I wanted all of the proper names for the dishes (so that I could report back to you, dear reader!)

After perusing the menu I found out that the first dish wasn’t even on it!  It was an amuse bouche (a pre-appetizer, a term that, full disclosure, I learned from a Friends episode!) and consisted of a mango, mint, and quinoa salad.  It was extremely light and refreshing.  Even my mother–who would never dream of combining fruit with grain and didn’t know what quinoa was–really enjoyed it.

The next ‘course’ was a bread course, which was to be served with ‘a trio of dips’.  As you can see from the photo it was clearly a quartet of dips–but that just sounds really pretentious!

The ‘house-made naan’ was very tasty, but not as oily and warm as the naan from my favorite local Indian restaurant.  The dips, however, more than made up for it.  I know one was some sort of green olive hummus-like spread, and another had sun-dried tomatoes and peppers in it, but I don’t recall what the other two were.  I do know that I loved the two reddish colored dips, and the green and beige dips were pretty good, too.

When the parade of appetizers began, so did the pouring of the wine.  Again I was surprised at the quantity and quality of what was offered.  More than just a ‘wine paring’, the waiters kept our wine glasses full throughout each course.  The appetizers that followed were paired with  Grahm Beck Cherin Blanc Franschhoek.  I have no idea what that means, but I can tell you that it was a lovely medium bodied white, and I can tell you that the waiter refilled my glass at least once during the appetizer portion of the meal.  And yes, even with all of that food, this adds up to quite a bit of wine over the course of the evening.  I walked carefully back to the room at the end of the night!

Appetizer number one was Pannekoeke Stewed Beef Rolled in ‘Crepes’ with a Peppedew Olive tapenade.  The beef was very similar to a braised short rib, and was rolled in the most amazingly tender crepe I’ve ever had–it was more like a crepe and a pita had a baby.

It is important to note that all of the photos–with the exception of dessert–are shots of the family-style platters brought to the table.  In the instance of the beef rolls above, that wasn’t my serving (dear god, that would be insane!) that was a serving for five people.  After I explained that I have a blog and thus needed food photos, everyone was really nice about me taking a really quick photo before everyone took their portion from the plate.

Ok–now that you know that I’m not a giant pig, I can continue!

Appetizer two looked a lot like an African version of an eggroll, and was called Crispy Beef “Bobotie” Roll with Cucumber Raita, Green Mango Atjar and Honey Roasted Groundnuts.

In case you are wondering what ‘atjar’ is, I can’t tell you–but Google can.  According to Google, atjar is a type of fresh pickle made from cucumbers and peppers.  According to me it was an incredibly light, refreshing salad served on top of the raita that in and of itself was amazing.  I almost liked the accompaniments to this dish more than the dish itself!

For appetizer number three (do you see what I mean by a lot of food?) we were served a rather boring flatbread with a rather long name–Barbecue Chicken Flatbread with Apple-Jicama Slaw, African Barbecue Sauce and Four Cheeses.  It was a BBQ Chicken pizza and, quite frankly, the low light of the meal.  But really, at this point, it had a lot to compete with.  I didn’t manage to snap a photo of the entire thing before people began to dig in, but here is my own personal piece, next to the Bobotie roll…

After the two glasses of wine I enjoyed with my appetizers, imagine my shock that our ‘Intermezzo’ was, in fact, a lime and vodka sorbet–heavy on the vodka.  Unfortunately, my mother didn’t like hers very much, so I had to eat both of them.  It is at this point that things got a little…fuzzy.  Fortunately my photos are still in focus!

Speaking of alcohol, our main course feast was accompanied by Graham Beck Cabernet and was, I believe, refilled several times.  I stopped counting at that point.

The entree was really three entrees, and they all came out at the same time–unlike the appetizers, which were served separately.  They were…

Oak-grilled Filet Mignon with Macaroni and Cheese and Red Wine Sauce.

Maize-crusted Corvina with Vegetables of the Moment (which were green beans and roasted cherry tomatoes) and Tomato Butter Sauce.

Peri Peri Chicken with Crushed Potatoes, California Delta Asparagus, Mango Salsa and Onion Jus.

I regret to inform you that I was experiencing an odd aversion to the steak for some reason–perhaps looking at all of the steer on the safari?–so I did not partake in the filet, but was assured by others that it was fantastic.  The corvina–a firm, white fish–was the highlight of the meal for me, which is truly saying something.  I love corvina so I’m pretty hard to please, and this was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and sitting in a pool of coconut tomato sauce.  The roasted cherry tomatoes provided the final touch to make this corvina one of the best I’ve tried.

The chicken was better than it looked–extremely well seasoned and juicy.  But once again the side dish stole the show–the crushed potatoes had some sort of seasoning I could not put my finger on, but trust me–they were better than your run of the mill mashed potatoes.

If you are thinking ‘Finally, she’s through with the meal!’ you, my friend, are mistaken.  There’s still the dessert course!  Much to my dismay, instead of being served family style, we each got our own dessert trio.  That’s right, I said trio.  After all of that, we were expected to eat THREE desserts…and enjoy Kanu Kia-Ora Noble Late Harvest Stellenbosch, which was your standard oddly thick, overly sweet dessert wine (that, of course, I drank.)

In order from left to right, you are looking at…

-Madagascar Vanilla Cheesecake with Salted Caramel and Macadamia-Almond Toffee

-Amarula Creme Brulee with a Chocolate-layered Bottom

-Tanzanian Chocolate and Kenya Coffee Mousee with Cinnamon Mascarpone Creme.

I ended up devouring the creme brulee and the coffee mousse; sadly, I left the cheesecake behind.  However, I did very much enjoy the cheesecake’s tasty little sidekick–that triangular piece of macadamia-almond toffee.  If you think it sounds delicious, you are wrong.  It was beyond delicious.

It was well past 8pm by the time we’d finished sitting around the table talking to all of our safari-mates.  The best part about a family style meal was that we got to chat with everyone else on the safari, and had a generally great time.  Often on vacation you run out of things to say to the people you are traveling with–after all, you’ve been doing everything together for the past however many days.  This was a great change of pace for me and my mom, and a wonderful addition to an already amazing experience.

We had plans to visit Downtown Disney that night after dinner.  Needless to say, we didn’t make it.  After waddling back to our room my mother laid down on the bed fully clothed–shoes and all–and promptly fell asleep.


15 responses to “The Wanyama Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–Post Two: The Meal at Jiko

  1. Take me with you, please!!!!

    • Violet–do you have any interest in going to Disney? Because I know someone who will be there for several weeks this fall (cough…me…cough cough…)

  2. This sounds amazing! Someday, we’ll stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and we will have to do this. Now that I’ve read about this meal, it makes sense that they only allow folks staying on property to partake … it would be too dangerous for anyone to be part of this and then bus back to their home resort!

    In the meantime, I am going to keep my eye on the newspaper because if a crepe and a pita ever had a baby, I would need to be there. And lime and vodka sorbet sounds like the most incredibly delicious thing ever. I wonder if I could make that at home. (Google says I can!)

    • Ha! Very true about the bus back. It wouldn’t be good–people would wake up on the bus in the bus parking lot at 1am!

      As you shall see from my not-yet-posted review of AKL, we didn’t super love it there, but it was worth staying there once just to do this safari.

  3. Tracey, If you don’t “make a go” of the travel books, you can always get a job as a food critic! Great writing!!!

  4. Thanks for the review. I think. I have a feeling that your great review is now going to cost me a bit of money. It sounds like an amazing experience!! I didn’t really have a great desire to do this before, but now I do. We will be staying at AKL next April so we have the “resort guests only” part covered. The difficulty is that “we” includes myself, my husband and our 10 year old son. My son would love the safari, but I’m not so sure how the dinner would go over. Were there any kids on your safari?

    • Holly–I’d hesitate to take a child on the tour but only because of price. For my mother and I it was over $300–you’re looking at an almost $500 investment to take three people. While it was very educational, unless I was independently wealthy (which I’m not!) I’d skip it with kids, particularly because the meal takes a REALLY long time. There is a kids activity club at AKL that has supervision and movies and games near the pool area–that would be an option for you son for that night if you and your husband really wanted to do it. I don’t know what the babysitting costs are but they have to be less than the safari! While it may sound ‘mean’ to put a child in childcare on a family vacation, I bet he’d be happy to hang out with some other kids–and not his parents–for a bit. 😉

      And to answer your question no, there were no children on the tour. I was the second youngest–there was a girl in her lower twenties along with her family (I thought she was a teenager but she had ID for the wine so I guess not!)

  5. I’ll be interested to know why you didn’t “super love” it at AKL (because I *do* super love it there!). I wonder if not having a savanna view could have played into it? We have always insisted on a savanna view when we stay at AKL. This meal looks to die for! Can’t wait to do this…maybe this summer?

    • Yes, I should have opted for Savannah view. We ended up with a non pool pool view–meaning the pool was blocked by many trees–so we could still HEAR the pool (bad) and we were surrounded by bugs (also bad). Additionally, the rooms were way too small for the giant furniture they put in there–and I’m not someone who needs a lot of space. Finally, it was rather spread out. But there ARE pros of AKL–loved the lobby, the restaurant options, and the bar.

  6. Should have taken your advice not to read on an empty stomach. Didn’t. Giving serious consideration to getting in the car to drive to AKL now for that meal!

  7. Too bad “Grahm Beck Cherin Blanc Franschhoek” wasn’t on Friends as well. Haha. Good looking post – I’m off to go eat something now.

  8. Loved your review. We are going in January 2012 and we love to animals and love to eat. So this will be great. Can you get a to go container for the food you can’t eat. I hate to see it go to waste, just to have a bite of a couple of items? We will have a 1 bedroom villa w/full size fridge and are not doing the dining plan, so we can have the items the next day.

    • I believe one couple took a piece of something with them–but there really wasn’t much left. As it is served family style, there’s always someone with a big enough appetite!

      I hope you do the tour–we really enjoyed it!

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