Where to eat: Yak and Yeti at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Written by Jacob Sundstrom
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.
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.
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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