The beautiful Jiko, a Disney Signature Dining experience, is as much an exercise in storytelling as it is in eating. From the moment we entered the high-ceiling den, buried deep beneath Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, bangle-clad columns and arched birds granted us amid a restaurant of warm lighting and circular tables. Our waiter, who presented us with a masterclass in service, narrated the African-inspired restaurant's story to us the moment we met.
That story only began with words, for it was one far more dependent on some of the best dining we've ever had at Walt Disney® World Resort.
We were introduced to the meal with a robust wine and cocktail selection and refillable bread service—the unique Egyptian bread and the top-shelf giraffe bread, both accompanied by butter with black sea salt—which were as creative, themed and delicious as can be expected. Such a grand opening set the table for one of the most decadent and indulgent menus we've ever tasted.
The meal really began to shine when we were introduced to our choice of appetizers, the Braised Wild Boar Tenderloin and the Duck Confit and Honey-Raisin Flatbread. The Braised Wild Boar Tenderloin was, without competition, the best dish we have had from any course at any Disney restaurant. Cooked to a medium-rare perfection and served atop creamy pap, chakalaka tomatoes and herb-smoked oil, this is the sort of heaven you'd only dream of finding at a restaurant. This once-in-a-lifetime dish's bed of decadence is a rich and dynamic in flavor as the meat itself, and it is so outstanding that we must take particular care to not mince words: go to Jiko and order this appetizer. Maybe order two per person. The portion was generous, but it is so phenomenal that you'll spend the night regretting you've ever eaten anything else. The flatbread was among Disney's best in the category, with the duck providing a strong backbone atop which subtle spice alit our palates.
All of the items our party selected for entrees and sides looked and tasted great (including the Sorghum Chicken,Botswanan Seswaa Short Rib, Merguez-spiced Lamb Shank and Bobotie Mac & Cheese), but the star of the night was the fabled Oak-grilled Filet Mignon, complete with four-cheese macaroni, spiced Brussels sprouts and chocolate-red wine demi-glace. The stuff of legends and much-blogged-about rumors, the perfectly cooked-to-order filet mignon makes its claim—along with the incredible selection at Yachtsman Steakhouse—for the best steak on Disney property. The demi-glace elevated the cut to an unreal level, but it was the accompanying four-cheese macaroni that stunned the most. It's the best side and the best macaroni dish Disney has ever offered. Deceitfully simple, it was the definition of decadence, and serves as the reason this will be our go-to entree on follow-up trips (if we can ever stop ordering more boar tenderloins).
Jiko is a prime example of what is possible when Disney dining is at its best, and might just take its place as our new favorite and top recommendation.