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Where to eat: Yak and Yeti at Disney's Animal Kingdom

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Published: June 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM

One of just a handful of table-service restaurants in Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom, the Yak and Yeti restaurant offers items inspired by Asian cuisine from all over the continent and a respite from the swamp-like Orlando humidity.

Yak and Yeti interior
Photo by David Bradley

It was a 30-minute thunderstorm that forced my then-fiancé, now wife, and I off the paths and into the nearest table-service restaurant. It quickly became our favorite restaurant in the park, and one of our favorite places to eat in the entire resort.

The walls are covered with relics from the owner's travels all over southeast Asia, or so the story goes. The dining areas are spacious; there is surprisingly quite a bit of seating hidden behind the narrow facade that dominates the exterior.

Yak and Yeti interior
Photo by David Bradley

We did not order an appetizer, but I heard great things about the Dim Sum basket, which includes pork pot stickers, shrimp siu mai, cha su boo and pork siu mai, all of which is steamed on a banana leaf ($13.99).

Yak and Yeti offers entrees ranging in price from $16.99-25.99. Lo Mein, Duck with Anandapur Glaze and the Shaoxing Steak and Shrimp are among the more popular items, our server told us. My wife tried the Chicken Lo Mein, while I opted for the Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli.

Lo mein differs from chow mein in both the style of noodle (usually, though often times American restaurants use the same noodle for both) and the way it is prepared. Lo mein is not deep fried like chow mein, offering a lighter option when paired with chicken, like my wife ordered it. ($17.99) There's something to be said about a light meal when you're spending a whole day walking around theme parks in Orlando.

The lo mein was served with a generous amount of carrots, cabbage, green beans and bean sprouts. There was more than enough chicken, too; this was not a meal that subsisted on the noodles. The portions were large, which worked out well for my wife and I as we spent most of our trip eating one large meal a day and then augmenting our diet with snacks. It's a great way to save money and keep from adding several pounds while on vacation.

The flank steak used in the beef and broccoli ($18.99) was not over cooked as is so often the case. The sauce was savory and a little salty, which paired well with both the steak and the broccoli. I also ordered a side of steamed rice to accompany my meal, which was well worth the asking price of $3.50.

For the vegetarians, a vegetable lo mein dish is offered for $16.99, and the same dish is served with tofu for just two dollars more. That is the only dish that comes vegetarian at the restaurant, but for most of the dishes the meat can be substituted for stir-fried vegetables, which are also available as a side dish for $4.99.

An extensive list of interesting alcoholic beverages is offered, including the Shanghai Express, which features spiced rum, banana liqueur, peach schnapps and tropical fruit juiced. Beers from all over the world also find their way on the menu. Fear not, you can get a Corona or Heineken to accompany your Mahi Mahi.

We decided to try the house tea, which we both enjoyed very much; but we like tea quite a bit and frequently drink it at home. Yak and Yeti also offers soft drinks, and you can't go wrong with a glass of water when on vacation in Orlando.

The real treat, and a must-try in my wife and I's opinion, was the platter of fried wontons we ordered after our meal was eaten. The wontons are stuffed with cream cheese and served on skewers with fresh pineapple. They are served with vanilla ice cream and a honey-vanilla drizzle.

I am a known quesophobe (not a fan of cheese unless it's melted on my pizza) and was skeptical about the idea of ordering a dessert stuffed with aged milk; but upon my wife's insistence, I tried the wontons and was blown away by how much I enjoyed it. The shell was crispy and flaky, and the inside was warm and sweet.

Restaurants like these are one of the reasons my wife and I will be going to Orlando for the third time in three years this fall. Walt Disney World offers a huge range of restaurants that allow you to put your feet up and relax while enjoying a delicious meal. That is in stark contrast to the Disneyland Resort (where I worked for a year and a half and my wife currently draws a paycheck) which features two or three table-service restaurants at a reasonable price (hint: not the Blue Bayou or Carthay Circle Restaurant).

Yak and Yeti gives a break from quick service burgers and the Florida heat while serving up great entrees at a reasonable price. We visited the restaurant on both of our previous trips to the Animal Kingdom, and I have little doubt that we will pay it a visit again on our upcoming trip to Orlando.

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Readers' Opinions

From Brandon Townsend on July 1, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Great review. I will be at Disney World in October and have always wanted to try this place. Now if only I can talk my kids out of eating at Pizzafari for once. Thanks.
From Russell Meyer on July 1, 2013 at 6:46 AM
We have only ordered from the counter service here, and it was on par with Panda Express (overly saucy and generic). It sounds like the sit-down version of the restaurant might actually be worth a try, assuming I can resist the temptation of Flame Tree BBQ.

We rarely spend more than one day in Animal Kingdom during a week-long trip, and the park's shorter hours prevent us from taking the time to sit down for a table service meal (we typically pair a day at DAK with a late evening at either EPCOT or MK).

From Tim Odom on July 1, 2013 at 6:57 AM
Every time I go to Animal Kingdom, I make sure to eat at Yak and Yeti. Always, always, always go to the sit down part, not the counter service (calling that overpriced Panda Express is pretty accurate.) The sit down restaurant is fantastic. It's pretty expensive, but overall worth it. And, while I am rarely a guy for desert, the Fried Wonton desert is simply perfect.

I am not a fan of DAK, I think it has a severe identity crisis, but this restaurant is great.

From Phil B. on July 1, 2013 at 8:13 AM
Great review, and I agree wholeheartedly. I love this place! The themeing is fantastic. Many picture opportunities and very immersive. The food is really good. Try the Duck with Anandapur Glaze, I would never think to order it, but my girlfriend did and I tried a piece and loved it! Also the service I've encountered there was some of the best I've ever had in a sit down. My server was extremely knowledgeable, quick and attentive. And even the staff manager made it a point to come to our table and engage us in a short convo to make sure everything was to our satisfaction. AK may take a lot of knocks, but not for the Y&Y. It's a great dining experience and I'm glad it was added to this beautiful park to help bolster the appeal of spending a full day at AK.
From TROY DAVIDSON on July 1, 2013 at 8:31 AM
The pork egg rolls are awesome!
From 98.227.60.180 on July 1, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Oh, I loved this column! I had never considered eating in the Yak and Yeti. It seemed too fancy for me. I was intimidated. But you made it sound so accessible and fun. I am DEFINITELY going to try it now. I love beef & broccoli so I am going to be having that too!!!
From 167.181.12.15 on July 1, 2013 at 12:23 PM
I'll echo the comments on the quick service, which turned me off from trying the table service. Perhaps I'll have to try it on my next journey back there.

But the Flame Tree being there makes it doubtful! So good!

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