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Restaurant Review: Yak and Yeti

Today, guest blogger Shayne Newell, author of Shayne’s Project 365, has kindly contributed a great review and some gorgeous photos from Animal Kingdom’s Yak and Yeti Restaurant! Take it away, Shayne!

Yak and Yeti restaurant

Background and Restaurant Atmosphere
Yak & Yeti is one of only two full service restaurants completely within the gates of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Walt Disney World (without our kids!). In my research leading up to the trip, I had heard a number of good things about Yak & Yeti, but also saw a few not-so-favorable reviews. As we started to plan our vacation and realized that we would be spending one morning at Animal Kingdom, with our main goal being to ride Expedition Everest a couple of times, Yak & Yeti seemed like a natural choice. We actually ended up eating there twice during our vacation and so were able to try a variety of dishes.

The restaurant is located in the Anandapur Village in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom. It sits at the crossroad between the path that leads to Kali River Rapids and the path that leads to Expedition Everest. Next door to the table service restaurant is the Yak & Yeti counter service restaurant that serves a smaller selection of menu items from the sit-down eatery.

Artistic Window Cover Outside Restaurant

Artistic Window Cover Outside Restaurant

We had an early ADR for lunch at 11:00 and arrived a bit early. We looked around a small courtyard area until the doors opened and we walked into the waiting area. The décor is a mixture of Asian-style artifacts.

Lobby Decor

Lobby Decor

Our hostess led us up a staircase in the center of the restaurant to our table. (An elevator is available for those who have difficulty with stairs.) The restaurant is a series of smaller rooms situated around a central open area. I have read that the restaurant seats 250, but I never would have guessed it. The smaller rooms give a more cozy feel and really make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a restaurant in an Asian village. It’s easy to forget that bustling crowds of Disney guests are just outside the doors.

We took a look at the menu, the back of which shares the story of the Yak & Yeti restaurant. The premise is that a merchant named Arjun has fallen on hard times, and has turned part of his home into the Yak & Yeti hotel. The restaurant sits at the center of the hotel and welcomes travelers seeking respite from the bustling streets of Anandapur; one can find local street cafes and shops nearby, including the Yak & Yeti counter service restaurant and the Bhaktapur market next to the restaurant. I loved this little tale and thought it just added that much more to very thorough theming of the restaurant.

Eats
Now, let’s talk about the food! The menu at Yak & Yeti is best described as Pan-Asian, incorporating predominantly Chinese flavors, but also some elements of Japanese and Vietnamese cooking.

Menu

Menu

The menu features several appetizers ranging from seared ahi tuna to the more familiar pot stickers and pork egg rolls. During our first experience at Yak & Yeti, my husband and I opted for the dim sum basket for two. The food was presented in a steamer basket and contained 3 pork pot stickers, 3 pork siu mai (a type of steamed dumpling), 3 shrimp siu mai and 2 char siu bao (buns filled with Chinese BBQ pork). A side of soy lime dipping sauce accompanied the basket. Unfortunately, we ate almost all of it before I remembered to take a picture, but here is what it looked like:

Dim Sum Basket

Dim Sum Basket

On our second trip, we had the pan seared pork pot stickers, which were also delicious. They were not too doughy, but probably could have been seared just a bit longer to give the outside of the dumpling a bit more crispiness.

The entree choices are almost overwhelming! The menu is divided into different sections: Soups & Salads, Sides, Specialties, Noodles, Woks, Grilled Items and Desserts. During our two meals, we sampled items from several sections of the menu. We discovered that there were a couple of new items that were added to the menu in December — a Malaysian seafood curry dish and a Kobe beef burger.

I tried two of the three soup and salad offerings — the wonton soup and mandarin chicken salad. A house salad is also available. The soup came with those yummy fried wonton strips to add on top. The salad was enormous and had lots of chunks of chicken and mandarin orange slices. It was topped with crunchy rice noodles and a plum dressing (but I ordered mine on the side). It was a filling choice that wasn’t too heavy. This would be great on a hot Florida day. But at $13.99, it’s a bit pricey for a salad if you’re not on the Disney Dining Plan.

Wonton Soup and Mandarin Chicken Salad

Wonton Soup and Mandarin Chicken Salad

The side dishes include pork egg rolls, stir-fried veggies, chicken fried rice and wok-fried green beans. The only one we tried was the pork egg rolls, which were flavorful and not too greasy.

The noodle options are Vietnamese pho and a Chinese-style lo mein dish. Other than the new Malaysian curry dish, the menu’s “specialty” items all have a Japanese flair. The choices include a seared miso salmon, a panko-breaded mahi-mahi, duck with a wasabi orange glaze, and tempura shrimp.

The wok options are crispy honey chicken, sweet and sour chicken or pork, and stir-fried beef and broccoli. On our waiter’s recommendation, I tried the beef and broccoli wok on our second visit. The meat was tender and the broccoli nice and crisp. You can order it with jasmine (white) or brown rice. I’m a fan of brown rice and was glad to have this option.

Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

My husband tried two different dishes from the grilled items section of the menu. The first was the new Kobe beef burger. It came with a choice of Asian slaw or sauteed mushrooms, which is what he chose. The burger was thick and flavorful and came with a side of mayo flavored with soy, sesame and other flavors, as well as a hearty portion of french fries.

Kobe Beef Burger and Fries

Kobe Beef Burger and Fries

He also tried the baby back ribs. I know it doesn’t sound very Asian, but the ribs were coated in a hoisin BBQ sauce and served with chicken fried rice and an Asian slaw. The ribs are prepared using some variety of slow cooking method, and the meat was literally falling off the bone. The flavor of the hoisin BBQ sauce was pleasing without being overpowering and, when combined with the tenderness of the meat, this dish was a definite hit! Thankfully they provided some moist towelettes with the meal, because it was impossible to be neat while eating these ribs!

Ribs, Chicken Fried Rice, and Asian Slaw

Ribs, Chicken Fried Rice, and Asian Slaw

Other grilled items include a maple tamarind chicken and a Chinese-flavored steak and shrimp dish.

Yak & Yeti’s drink menu also has something for everyone. In addition to the usual coffee, iced tea, sodas and water, there is a selection of hot teas and unique alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Because it was so cold during our visit, I had the Monk’s Blend hot tea. It was a delicious black tea with a vanilla flavor that was not too heavy or sweet.

Teapot and cup

Teapot and cup

We also ordered one of the storied Yak Attack alcoholic beverages — a mango daquiri made with rum. Delicious!

Yak Attack Drink

Yak Attack Drink

In talking with our waiter, we discovered that Yak & Yeti is operated by Landry’s Restaurants, the same company that runs the Rainforest Cafe and the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney. Luckily, Yak & Yeti does accept the Disney Dining Plan. Each of our two meals (not including alcoholic beverages) came to over $50 for two people for lunch. So, for those not on the dining plan, the prices at Yak & Yeti might be a bit high. However, even though we were out of table service credits on our dining plan when we ate our second meal at Yak & Yeti, we so enjoyed the atmosphere, service and food that we did not hesitate to pay out of pocket for our meal.

Everest Avalanche Drink

Everest Avalanche Drink

On both of our visits to Yak & Yeti, we were too full for dessert. Options include sorbet, mango pie, a chocolate brownie sundae for 2, and fried wontons, which is described as “skewers of fresh pineapple and cream cheese wontons with vanilla ice cream and honey vanilla drizzle.” I’ll definitely need to save room for dessert on our next trip.

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24 Comments

  1. Lauren says:

    LOVE this place! The Mandarin Chicken Salad is wonderful. If I’m hanging out at the park by myself, I’ll get the smaller portion of it available at the counter service outside. It’s delicious. Those fried wontons are pretty fabulous too. ;)

  2. AJ says:

    Rock on, Lauren! Thank you for the comment and the reminder that the Mandarin Chicken Salad is also available at the counter service Yak and Yeti! I think I saw it on the menu for another counter service restaurant in AK as well; will have to check that out.

  3. Shayne says:

    Thanks for the invitation to contribute! I truly enjoy reading your blog and am honored to be a part of it.

  4. AJ says:

    Shayne, I know I told you by email, but this is truly a wonderful post. I can’t wait to share more of your talent, trip reports, and photos over here :)

  5. Ro says:

    Just as an FYI, Yak & Yeti also offers a discount to AP holders.

    Shayne, your review and beautiful photos made me hungry! I’m going to have to try that dim sum appetizer or the ribs next time. They looked good.

  6. Gray says:

    Nice review! Your photos make the food look so yummy! I, too, loved Yak & Yeti. Yes, the prices are a bit high if you’re paying out of pocket, but it’s good stuff and the atmosphere is wonderful. It’s a great place to take a cool break in the middle of a hot day in the park.

  7. AJ says:

    Ro: I can attest to the ribs being amazing! But I agree that I’m on board for Dim Sum next time, too.

    Gray: Welcome home! Agreed that the atmosphere is great; I really enjoyed my Yak and Yeti excursion.

  8. Michelle says:

    Great pictures and reviews! We’ve had several good meals at Yak & Yeti as well and I look forward to my next meal there. I wanted to point out that while Yak & Yeti is the only table service in Asia; Tusker House Restaurant is a table service restaurant located in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom.

  9. AJ says:

    Michelle — you’re so right! I was only thinking of Rainforest Cafe and completely didn’t account for Tusker House! Will edit the sentence. Thanks!

  10. Shayne says:

    Thanks, Michelle! When I wrote it, I went back and forth over whether to consider Tusker House “full service” since it is a buffet. I definitely need to get over to Africa to try it one day, as I’ve heard lots of good things!

  11. AJ says:

    Shayne — good point! And Tusker House is great; can’t wait to see what you think!

  12. Veronica Gavin says:

    The Executive Chef is awsome and should be featured on the front cover of a popular Food Magazine. The food featured is so very appealing and deserve National coverage! Emeril and Bobby Flay eat your hearts out! I ate at the Yak and Yeti and can’t wait to do so again. I want to try that burger!

  13. AJ says:

    I wanna try the burger, too! Just sayin’!

  14. Jill Taylor says:

    My experience at the Yak & Yeti was absolutely wonderful. Everything that I had was delicious and well cooked. It’s an exceptional blend of tastes that makes my mouth water even at this moment. I had the Wok-Fried green beans and the pork egg rolls as an appetizer. Both were exceptional. It was my first time having the fried green beans, but they were delicious and the dipping sauce was amazing. I had the Crispy Honey Chicken as my entree and it didn’t disappoint. The best was saved for last. The fried wontons were mind blowing. Cream chesse filled wontons fried to a golden crunchy perfection served with warm pinapples and strawberries and rich vanilla ice cream. Dessert is always my favorite at any meal and this one tops anything I have ever had. Awesome experience and hats off to the Executive Chef. Job well done!!!

  15. AJ says:

    Wonderful comment, Jill — thank you so much! I’m can almost taste those delicious fried wontons now… YUM!

  16. Jeff C. says:

    The Yaki & Yeti has become a sleeper favorite for us. We simply love the food. The first visit 2 years ago I had the Crispy Mahi Mahi (so good) and last year the Shaoxing Steak & Shrimp (delicious, and a fun presentation!).

    What really caught me off-guard was the dessert – I opted for the Mango Pie this last time just for something different. I’m not a big mango fan, and thought this would be so-so at best (i wanted to expand my world!). I took a bite, and thought I was right – it was so so.

    Then I took another bite. And another…and another – it was sooooo creamy and mouth-wateringly good. I could not stop myself. I ate the whole thing, and could have eaten another. I talked about that Mango Pie from the Yak and Yeti the rest of the trip, and still think about it fondly. I can’t wait until our next trip in April 2011.

  17. AJ says:

    Jeff — thanks for your awesome review! Don’t you love when a dish takes you by surprise like that? I imagine I’ll have to order several desserts on my next visit to Y&Y…

    PS: Just checked out your fantastic blog; looking forward to becoming a reader.

  18. dee says:

    ok, i’m a year late on this post, but i was googling yak and yeti and saw your post. great review and beautiful pictures! when we went in may we tried the miso salmon and i have to say it was the BEST salmon i’ve ever had. so, definitely give that a shot next time. we also tried the pineapple skewer desert, way yummy.

  19. AJ says:

    Hey Dee! Thanks for the comments! I had the pineapple and fried wontons on my last trip and LOVED them! Hope to hear more from you here on DFB! :-)

  20. Molly says:

    “Kobe beef” burger???? My understanding is that true Kobe beef is only shipped out side of Japan & to the USA in very small amounts. I’m wondering how did Disney could get true Kobe beef in very large quantities the park would need. (Let alone afford to sell it a real Kobe steak can cost $350.) I’m kind of surprised & disappointed Disney would put something on the menus and knowing label it falsely. Kind of makes me wonder about other park menus.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2012/09/28/kobe-beef-is-back-new-rules-allow-some-japanese-beef-in-u-s/

  21. Shayne says:

    Molly, I believe that most restaurants in the US serving”kobe” beef are serving American-style kobe. My understanding is that kobe beef results from a particular method for raising cattle, not a particular breed.

    At my local farmers market, I regularly purchase beef from Texas T Kobe (http://www.texastkobe.com). This American Kobe has a different flavor and cooks differently than regular beef. As the folks at Texas T Kobe have explained it to me, the melting point of the fat in kobe beef is lower, resulting in a more tender, buttery cut of meat.

    I’ve also had Japanese Wagyu (kobe) beef. According to what I’ve read, Wagyu is the particular breed of cattle used to produce Japanese kobe beef. It has a unique flavor that is different from American Kobe, but is similarly tender. You are correct, however, that Japanes kobe beef is ridiculously expensive and so you would not find it on a run-of-the-mill Disney menu (or any other restaurant), though one of the two places I’ve sampled it was at Victoria & Albert’s.

    I understand your concerns, but I don’t think that Disney is engaged in false advertising, as they’ve not held it out to be Japanese Wagyu beef burger. I’ve had similar burgers at several locations across the country, so it appears that the phenomenon of serving an American kobe beef burger (and calling it a kobe burger) is not unique to Disney.

  22. JK says:

    Dumb question – is it possible to do dinner at Y&Y when the park closes so early?

  23. Shayne says:

    JK, yes dinner is served at Yak & Yeti. As you noted, however, you would have to eat very early on most days because the park generally closes so early.

  24. BM says:

    Kobe refers to the place that the beef comes from, not what kind it is or how the method it was raised. Several other areas in japan raise wagyu with this method. If it didn’t come from Kobe itself, it is no more than ‘Kobe-styled’ beef.

    It would be more correct to label it as Wagyu beef.

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