Could there possibly be a more unfortunately named restaurant than Animal Kingdom’s Yak & Yeti? I mean, seriously, would you ever open a restaurant and deliberately associate it with the word “yak”? Despite the unfortunate moniker, this table service restaurant is actually quite a treat. Animal Kingdom was badly in need of another sit-down restaurant besides Rainforest Cafe. They came up with a winner with this one. I decided to give this newish restaurant a try for lunch during my recent trip to Disney World. How would it measure up to other table service restaurants at Disney? Read and find out. . . .
Yak & Yeti is located in Anandapur Village in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom park, not far from Expedition Everest. Naturally, given this setting, the menu borrows from a variety of Asian cultures. Yak & Yeti is more of a grown-up dining experience than Rainforest Cafe. It has Disney’s trademark attention to detail going for it, with a museum-like decor of Asian objets d’art throughout the restaurant. No animatronic cheetahs or gorillas growling at you while you eat. But definitely some very scary-looking masks and statues that would make me think twice about bringing a toddler here who scares easily.
My lunch here didn’t start off on the right foot. I showed up ten minutes early for my ADR, as is advised, and waited at least 20 minutes to be shown into the restaurant, even though it had just opened up and was pretty empty. I wasn’t the only customer kept waiting for longer than necessary. The host finally explained that two servers had shown up late for work. But hey, as long as I could wait in the air-conditioned lobby, I wasn’t complaining: It was about a thousand degrees outside.
I was finally shown to my two-top table on the first floor sunporch. I didn’t have a window seat, but I didn’t really care. I was seated next to an open railing where I could look out on the rest of the restaurant. My server, Tina, was super friendly and helpful with the menu. I was torn between two menu items, so I asked her advice, and she recommended the Maple Tamarind Chicken. She saw my camera and encouraged me to wander around the restaurant taking pictures while I waited for my food. I took her up on that suggestion. Throughout my meal, she kept coming back to my table to make sure I was enjoying everything and to chat with me. Almost all of my servers at Disney World were very professional and customer-service focused, but Tina was the most down-to-earth, accessible server I had during my stay. It was like going to a restaurant where your friend is a waitress and being assigned her table.
The Maple Tamarind Chicken turned out to be a good recommendation. The chicken was glazed with an Indonesian tamarind sauce and came with baby bok choy, a shiitake mushroom stir-fry, and coconut ginger rice. The flavoring of the glaze was subtle, not overpowering. The chicken itself was a little drier than I like, but overall, pretty good.
The vegetables and rice were even better, in my opinion. In fact, if they were to offer the stir-fried vegetables and rice as a vegetarian dish, I’d order it. It was too much food for me, and I couldn’t finish it all. Especially because I really wanted dessert.
For dessert, I ordered the trio of sorbets (mango, lemon, and raspberry). I was hoping they would cool me off before I had to go back outside into the blazing heat of the park. Boy, did they ever! They were so cold, I started shivering and my teeth were chattering by the time I finished–no kidding. I was so happy to go back outside again to warm up! The flavors were fine, but honestly, I wasn’t wowed by them. I probably wouldn’t order them again. In any case, one scoop of sorbet would have been more than enough for me. The total bill before tip came to $30.86; this included my drink, an iced tea. Yes, that is a very expensive lunch; however, there are other menu items that are not as expensive.
Upshot: This is a solid entry in Disney’s stable of table service restaurants, with good food and customer service in a lovely, grown-up atmosphere. Ask for an upstairs table by a window if you can; the people-watching is more impressive from the second floor. For those of you who are on a tight budget, there is also a counter service version of Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom, but I did not eat there, so I can’t vouch for the food.