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Old 08-15-2011, 11:17 PM   #91
cbg1027
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Originally Posted by Disneyfreak616 View Post
Yak and Yeti looks like a great solo meal! Your apps looks lovely and definitely filling!
It was a good meal.

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Originally Posted by TigerKat View Post
Glad to hear Y&Y was good! Unfortunately, for us it was subpar at best our last time there which was a direct contrast to our first time there.
Aw that's too bad Kat. Wish it could have been better for you

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I love your reviews! I wish I knew you in real life, I have a feeling we would get along!
Aw thanks!

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Originally Posted by TanzUnited99 View Post
I remember reading your last Y&Y review and it making me want to try it - now I want to try it even more! Maybe one day...
Guess you'll just have to go back to WDW.
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Old 08-17-2011, 06:15 AM   #92
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Jiko Dinner

After a very hot day in AK, I went back to my room at AKV Jambo to take a nap. Well my little nap turned in to a big nap and I slept right through my ADR at Flying Fish. Woops.

It was getting late and I didn't want to take a chance on there being a long wait at Flying Fish, so I decided to try a walk-up at Jiko and if the wait was too long for me, I'd just go to The Mara.

I checked in at Jiko and as with my other walk-ups this trip, lucked out and was seated right away! I opted to sit at the counter so I could watch the Chefs in action but that plan was quickly dashed by the man at the counter who reeked of cigarette smoke.

I ran back to the hostess and asked to be moved away from the counter, which wasn't a problem.

I was then seated at a two top looking out the window side of the restaurant, with no stinky people nearby that I could smell.

My server for the evening was Paula and she greeted me promptly and took my drink order (Coke).

I was having a really hard time decided what I wanted that evening. In the meantime, Paula came back with an Amuse Bouche to start the meal with:
Quinoa Salad with Yogurt


This was just ok, somewhat plain. It wasn't bad, but it tasted like something I could easily make at home, so it didn't wow me. It was just Quinoa with some veggies and light dressing and a dollop of yogurt on top.

On her next visit (no, I still didn't know what I wanted to order), Paula brought me the Jiko Bread Basket, which has a honey wheat and another more savory type of bread, along with Tandoori Butter:


It's not my favorite bread, but it was good and nice to have something else to munch on while I was trying to make up my mind! I love the beaded baskets they serve it in though.

On Paula's third return visit, I finally put an order in. For an appetizer, I went with the Creamy Spring Onion Soup with Caramelized Paneer Cheese and Pickled Shallots:


This was served with the cheese and shallots alone in the bowl, and then the soup was poured from a pitcher.
The soup was absolutely outstanding. The onions has clearly been cooked for a long time before going in to the pureed soup, so this had a really sweet caramelized onion flavor in a light cream base. It wasn't super heavy like some cream-based soups and the texture so was silky. I really loved the addition of the paneer cheese, which soaked up the soup's flavor, and the tart pickled shallots to provide a sweet and sour symphony in the mouth.

For an entree, I went with the Oak Grilled Filet Mignon with Hominy 'Risotto', Delta Asparagus, and Red Wine Reduction.


I had ordered the filet medium rare, but it came out more on the medium well side. I opted not to say anything because I didn't feel like waiting for them to fire another steak. In retrospect, I wish I had since medium rare wouldn't have taken too long.
Maybe it was how well the steak was cooked, but this just didn't do much for me. It tasted like something I could get at Outback or Longhorn - not bad, but a just ok steak, not worth $41 bucks.
I was happy enough though with my side items - the asparagus was perfectly cooked and very tasty and the hominy 'risotto' was good and very filling. It tasted a little like it had white cheddar in the mix with the flavor of grits, but a softer texture.

My motto at Disney is 'always save room for dessert' and tonight was no exception. I also didn't want to end my meal on a bad note, so I opted for 'One Last Cup' - Tanzanian Chocolate and Kenyan Coffee Mousse with Cinnamon Mascarpone, Nutty Chocolates, Tuille Cookie, and 'Hot Chocolate'.


I thought the presentation on this was really creative. How cool is that?
The mousse made up the cup, and the mascarpone the 'whipped cream', with a handle made from chocolate. The spoon is the tuille cookie, and, what I found most original, were the 'sugar cubes' made from nuts and chocolate.
The little white creamer had the 'hot chocolate' - basically a very thick and rich chocolate sauce. I poured some of the hot chocolate over the cup and dug in - this was rich, creamy, and intense. The mousse had a nice balance of coffee to chocolate flavor and the cinnamon mascarpone added a sweet spice. A really lovely dessert - but only for true chocolate lovers!

Overall, Jiko went down in my ratings a bit with the lackluster quinoa salad and steak, but I would still call it one of my favorites and look forward to returning.

Grade: A-
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:43 AM   #93
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Abby, I think the steak is Jiko's weakest dish. It's the only dish I've had there that was just ok. Everything else we've had there has been excellent!
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:16 PM   #95
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I agree in that the presentation of that dessert is very cool! Another great review and am glad you were able to be moved from the cigarette smoke smell
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Old 08-17-2011, 08:59 PM   #96
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nice review! I am hopeful that on my upcoming trip if plans change I can score a walk up at Sanaa or Jiko...
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Old 08-18-2011, 01:09 AM   #97
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Thanks for the great Jiko review, and sorry to hear about the filet. Despite the worsening reviews of it, I'm still tempted to try it (but the maize-crusted corvina also sounds great). I had that dessert in July and thought it was very fun and unique, with good flavors from the chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, and mascarpone.
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:43 PM   #98
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Abby, you inspire me!
I am going onmy first solo trip this October and as much as I am sure that I will be fine and not lonely at all, reading your posts make feel better! I am doing the same things you did by going to all the restaurants my family will not eat at! I even went as far as getting the deluxe dining plan to simply be able to eat at all the places. Keep up the good posts and reviews!
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Old 08-18-2011, 10:53 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by TigerKat View Post
Abby, I think the steak is Jiko's weakest dish. It's the only dish I've had there that was just ok. Everything else we've had there has been excellent!
Same experience for me Kat - of the 5 entrees I've sampled there, this was the only 'just ok' one. All the others were excellent.

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Originally Posted by Linda67 View Post
Great Jiko review

I love the presentation of the dessert
Thanks!

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Originally Posted by TanzUnited99 View Post
I agree in that the presentation of that dessert is very cool! Another great review and am glad you were able to be moved from the cigarette smoke smell
Thanks Tanz!

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Originally Posted by bigal'sdaughter View Post
nice review! I am hopeful that on my upcoming trip if plans change I can score a walk up at Sanaa or Jiko...
You can probably easily get a walk-up at Sanaa...they're not usually booked up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonaldDoleWhip View Post
Thanks for the great Jiko review, and sorry to hear about the filet. Despite the worsening reviews of it, I'm still tempted to try it (but the maize-crusted corvina also sounds great). I had that dessert in July and thought it was very fun and unique, with good flavors from the chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, and mascarpone.
I was considering the Corvina too...now I wish I had gone with it. Oh well...live and learn and then go back and eat some more.

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Originally Posted by ali92579 View Post
Abby, you inspire me!
I am going onmy first solo trip this October and as much as I am sure that I will be fine and not lonely at all, reading your posts make feel better! I am doing the same things you did by going to all the restaurants my family will not eat at! I even went as far as getting the deluxe dining plan to simply be able to eat at all the places. Keep up the good posts and reviews!
Thanks Alison! I hope you have a great solo trip. Disney is an ideal location for a solo trip, I find it easier to strike up conversation with people there since everyone is usually in such a good mood and the CM's like to be chatty! Plus, it makes it easier to experience more attractions in less time.
I'm going Oct 26-30, probably solo again...when is your trip?
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:43 AM   #100
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Joining in! Love a solo trip. The time by yourself is so refreshing and regenerating!
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Old 08-19-2011, 09:28 AM   #101
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Great Jiko review. Jiko was the biggest letdown for us back in May. I too had the steak and it just wasn't all that. Also our server was a bit of a meanie as well which didn't help. This next trip we are going to try Sanaa.
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:46 AM   #102
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A Special Lunch at Sanaa

I woke up feeling a bit down since it was departure day for me. But I still had one last magical experience in store - Dine with an Animal Specialist: An Untamed Lunch at Sanaa!

This is a four course lunch with one of the AKL animal keepers. You get to hear about how they care for and manage the animals at AKL and there is plenty of opportunity for questions. The event is pretty intimate as it is capped at 12 people per lunch. It only takes place on Wednesdays from 11:30-1:15 at Sanaa. I think the $49 price tag is a great deal since ordering the four courses and a drink at a normal meal in Sanaa comes out to over $40. The pricing includes tax, tip, and a donation to the Conservation Fund, so for Disney special experience, it's fairly cheap for the extras you get.

I checked in at Sanaa around 11:15 but they hadn't opened yet. At 11:30, the CM's did a little song with drums as they opened the restaurants. Me and two of the other guests for the Untamed lunch were lead to a table in somewhat secluded area on the restaurant. We were joined shortly by one other guest and our animal specialist, Liesl.

Liesl introduced herself and told us about her position. I don't recall the name, but she is basically a 'zoo manager'. She oversees how the animals are cared for, when they need vet attention, solves any problems that may arise (like preparing for hurricanes), coordinates possible breedings, brings in new animals, etc.

One of Sanaa chefs came out to speak about the cuisine and ask about any dietary restrictions. One of the guests in my group was an eight year old boy, so the chef mentioned that they could provide items from the children's menu if needed.

Our first course arrived very quickly - The Indian Style Bread Service

Naan, Papadum, Onion Kulcha, and Paneer Paratha

With Accompaniments, starting at the white and going clockwise - Cucumber Raita, Pickled Garlic, Coriander Chutney, Tamarind Chutney, Red Chile Sambal, Red Pepper Hummus, Mango Chutney, and Mint Chutney:



I love Sanaa's bread service. The soft fluffy Naan and crispy Papadum are my favorites breads, while the sweet Taramind Chutney, cooling Cucumber Raita, and sharp Coriander Chutney are my favorite dips. The only accompaniment I didn't like was the Pickled Garlic. I love garlic, but this was mostly like eating raw, bitter garlic. I didn't really care for the Paneer Paratha Bread either. It's very heavy and doughy. When you order the bread service a la carte, you get to pick two breads and two accompaniments.

Our next course was the Salad Sampler. From the top going clockwise: Roasted Beets, Cucumber Tomato and Chickpea, and Watermelon Radish:


This is another dish from Sanaa that I love. There are five (I think) salads and you can pick three. I had eaten this dish before and ordered these same exact salads. I love all three of them, but the Watermelon Radish is my favorite. The other two are very good as well though.

Throughout our eating, the conversation flowed. It was very opened ended - after Liesl introduced herself and told us about her role, it was mostly up to the guests to ask questions. Lucky for me, I was with a a very inquisitive group. We got to hear about all sorts of aspects of the animal care, from their feeding schedules, strange habits, hurricane prepardness, how they deal with extreme cold and heat, how they interact with other zoos across the country to diversify a species' population, and much more.

One tidbit I found particularly interesting is how they keep animals who are used to roaming around vast areas occupied on a smaller piece of land so they're not bored and developing destructive behavioral issues. If you notice on the savannahs, some of the things are there are not stationary, like piles of large logs. The animal keepers periodically move these things around because the animals think the setting has changed and there is a new item to investigate that way!

Our third course was the Slow Cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well Seasoned dish. From left to right: Red Curry Chicken, Basmati Rice, and Green Curry Shrimp


This is yet another dish I had already tried. On the menu, there are three or four meat choices and two grain choices. You choose two meats and one grain. While I had eaten the chicken before, the rice and shrimp were new to me.
I love the chicken - as it is described, it's just a simple red curry sauce. I love red curry, and this one is good, with very deep complex flavors.
The rice was perfectly cooked and had a bit of butter on it. A good palate cooler with the semi-spicy curries. I wasn't a fan of the shrimp, probably because I'm not big on green curries. the shrimp was cooked well - not overdone or rubbery and the texture of the sauce was thick and smooth. I think it had a coconut milk base. But the flavor of the green curry just didn't do anything for me. I prefer the beef short ribs I had on a different visit.

For our final dish, we were served the Dessert Sampler - Chocolate Cake, Chai Creme, and Passion Fruit Kulfi:



I had tried this twice before. On my first visit to Sanaa, I didn't care for the cake at all - it was really dry. But this time, it was quite good! Moist cake and rich frosting with a medium chocolate flavor. Very basic, but delicious.

The Chai Creme is a favorite of mine. It's got the flavor of a Chai Latte in a texture that's like a cross between pudding and the creme of a creme brulee. Soooo good!

The Passion Fruit Kulfi is amazing too. Kulfi is like an Indian version of ice cream, but it had a different texure somewhere between sorbet and gelato. The passion fruit is really sweet and refreshing and I like the Strawberry sauce they serve with it.

After dessert we were brought out our checks. Liesl told us not rush off though because there was still a little surprise outside for us!

After we all settled our checks, Liesl showed us out to the Sunset Savannah overlook. Off to the side, viewable from the windows by the Sanaa bathrooms, is a little enclosure with two tortoises.

Liesl led us in to the enclosure were we got up close with Chappy, a Madagascar Reticulared Tortoise!


We weren't allowed to touch him because they can carry salmonella, but we were allowed extremely close and we all got some great photos.

The Madagascar Reticulated Tortoise is highly endangered due to habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal exotic pet trade. The two males at AKL are named after chefs at Sanaa. They were rescued from a shipment of illegal exotic pets that came in to Miami a few years ago.

Liesl said she is currently working on trying to find a female to bring in so they can breed the Tortoises and help save the species.







1:15 came around way too fast and Liesl had to get back to work!
Dine with an Animal Specialist: An Untamed Lunch at Sanaa was an amazing experience. I learned a lot of really interesting information about Disney's animal management and enjoyed a fabulous meal at the same time, in a beautiful setting. I would highly, highly urge anyone with an interest in animals to book this before it gets too popular. Right now, it's not 'online' yet and can only be booked through the concierge at AKL or by calling Sanaa directly. But once it goes in to the dining reservation system (maybe late September) I think this will become more popular as more people read about it.

Grade: A+!!!!!
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Old 08-28-2011, 01:47 AM   #103
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Great review! That animal specialist lunch looks like fun! Plus, it includes the chai cream dessert - yum!!! That's one of my favorite desserts at WDW now.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:09 AM   #104
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The animal specialist lunch looks great

I haven't eaten at Sanaa before but would love to

Thanks for your wonderful reviews
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:40 AM   #105
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I loved the review of Sanaa and the Dine with an Animal Specialist lunch sounds amazing!

I can't wait to eat here esp after reading all your positive reviews of the place. Thanks for sharing the tidbit about changing the surroundings of some animals - learnt something new!

Can't wait until the next set of reviews
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