Chef Daniel Sicilia took the helm in the kitchen about six months ago at Jiko—The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and new Pastry Chef Michael Craig recently joined the resort’s culinary team, together creating an almost-all-new menu for the popular restaurant.
Jiko means “cooking place” in Swahili, and the restaurant’s menu pays homage to the African theme in a beautiful dining room inspired by Disney’s “The Lion King.” Wood-burning ovens scent the dining room with crisp flatbreads like the Mozambican chicken with sweet plaintains, Cape gooseberries, cashews and coconut mayonnaise. There are plenty of unusual names and ingredients in the subtly spiced dishes, but servers are happy to help you navigate the adventurous menu.
Guests will always find a filet on the menu, but the sides that accompany are seasonal and ever changing. Ditto the bone-in short rib. A version of maize-crusted fish in tomato-butter sauce has always been on the menu, but now Chef Daniel is using perch from Lake Victoria in Africa. Durham Ranch elk loin and Mrouzia-style lamb tagine are new dishes, and buttery-sweet scallops are paired with Berkshire pork belly.
A guest favorite is “Taste of Africa,” all made in-house with pappadam, sesame fatir and flax seed naan, served with a variety of dips including hummus, green chermoula, goat butter and mango chutney. A brand-new starter is Manti Dumplings, filled with boar, bison and elk and served with spicy tomato sauce and saffron yogurt. And Chef Daniel’s charcuterie is always evolving, made in-house with whatever meats they are sourcing for the kitchen.
For sweet endings, the new Kilimanjaro is a favorite of chocolate fans with Tanzanian chocolate mousse, pistachio financier, pink peppercorn meringue, cacao nib crunch and pineapple flavored with ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend. There’s a strawberry shortcake with local berries and sweet potato cheesecake with sweet apple chutney. Chef Michael is tweaking all the desserts, paired nicelt with teas and after-dinner drinks.
Jiko has the largest offering of South African wines anywhere in the United States, with more than 125 of South Africa’s boutique wineries showcasing their vintages at the restaurant, and was awarded Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence.
For reservations, call 407/WDW-DINE.