Review: New Menu Items at Animal Kingdom’s Local Food Cafes (Yak & Yeti Counter Service)

We’re taking a trip to Animal Kingdom’s Asia for lunch today, at none other than Local Food Cafes.

This counter service spot is known by a few monikers, and might be best known as “Yak & Yeti Counter Service.” It sits directly next door to one of my very favorites eateries, the Yak & Yeti Restaurant (I’ve learned to live with my near constant craving for their Fried Wontons dessert). And indeed the full name is Yak & Yeti/Anandapur Local Food Cafes.

Name aside, it’s a convenient stop for anyone who has just faced the Yeti on Expedition Everest, or is looking to dry off in the sun after a drenching on Kali River Rapids. The focus here is Asian food featured in an assortment of rice bowls, salads, and wraps. In fact, today we’ll be sampling one of each, so please join us!

Local Food Cafes sign

Local Food Cafes sign

Atmosphere

At first glance, the only thing you can really see are the ordering counters, and long lines here often accompany them.

Local Food Cafes

Local Food Cafes

Local Food Cafes blends in so well with its surroundings that I often think people see the lines before they notice the ordering stations and menus.

There can be a brief moment of confusion for many guests who wonder where to go after receiving their orders, and that’s where a few more signs come in handy, pointing you to the right.

Sign to seating

Sign to seating

Sign to seating

Sign to seating

That’s also where you’ll find your utensils and a fairly large assortment of condiments ranging from Soy Sauce, Duck Sauce, and Hot Sauce to ketchup and mustard.

Condiment cart

Condiment cart

Utensils

Utensils

A tip: there is hardly ever a line at the second cart towards the back seating, since most people have already stocked up at the first cart just past the ordering station.

It appears, at first, that seating is just one long row of tables right next to the Quality Beverages window (home of the Yak Attack!).

Immediate seating area

Immediate seating area

But the more you wind around, the more seating you’ll find. It goes on…

Seating

Seating

and on…

Seating

Seating

and on. All seating here is outside, though some of it is covered.

Yak and Yeti Counter Service Local Food Cafes 17

And, as always, there plenty of

details for your eyes to take in, specifically towards the back areas.

Details and decoration

Details and decoration

Details and decoration

Details and decoration

Details and decoration

Details and decoration

I really like the way stories are continued all over Animal Kingdom. For instance, the first sign below says “Stop Tetak Logging Company,” bringing to mind the illegal logging and deforestation methods that guests are made aware of through the Kali River Rapids attraction near by.

Posters

Posters

Posters

Posters

Though there is less shade, I think the prime spots are right next to the calming water fountain.

Table by the water fountain

Table by the water fountain

Water fountain

Water fountain

And, since it is Animal Kingdom, you never know who might drop by.

Please do not feed the birds

Please do not feed the birds

As always, though, Animal Kingdom requests that you please not feed the animals. Now it’s just time to feed ourselves!

Eats

Local Food Cafes features hot food of premium quality. Here’s how we know this:

Hot Food, Premium Quality

Hot Food, Premium Quality

More specifically, though ;) , the menu at Local Food Cafes has gone through a makeover in recent months. While the focus remains on Asian fare, newer items include the Korean Stir-fry Barbecue Chicken, along with the items I tried: the Teriyaki Beef Bowl, Roasted Vegetable Couscous Wrap, and Ginger Chicken Salad.

Local Food Cafes menu

Local Food Cafes menu

Before we dig in, you won’t see any of those fun Yak & Yeti takeout boxes for the dishes I ordered, but rest assured that they’re still in use for some of the entrees, like the Honey Chicken, which survived the menu changes.

Fun serving containers

Fun serving containers

The Teriyaki Beef Bowl sounded right up my alley: marinated beef, carrots, snap peas, and mushrooms in teriyaki sauce, served with white rice.

Teriyaki Beef Bowl

Teriyaki Beef Bowl

I thought the white and black sesame seeds were a nice touch — I don’t recall seeing that in many other dishes here.

Black and white sesame seeds

Black and white sesame seeds

All of the ingredients for a good meal were there: a plentiful portion, the light touch of the teriyaki, and nicely cooked, non-mushy vegetables of a decent variety. However, the star of the show — the beef — was tough and chewy, making it really difficult to enjoy.

Teriyaki Beef

Teriyaki Beef

When all was said and done, I just couldn’t get past the texture. A shame, since the previous Beef Lo Mein dish here had some dedicated fans. I think next time I’ll opt to try the Stir-fry Barbecue Chicken, since I’ve liked chicken dishes here in the past. Wish I could say the same for this one.

Next up: the Roasted Vegetable Wrap with Couscous. This comes accompanied by a Lemon Herb Yogurt Sauce, and a side of packaged grapes.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous wrap

Roasted Vegetable Couscous wrap

There is a lot about this dish that you won’t glean from the name and menu description. For starters, if you’re thinking, “Wow, that looks like a whole lotta couscous, and not much veggie,” you are correct ;). The emphasis here is definitely on the grain over the veggies; I only spied a few slices of onion, green pepper, and chickpeas throughout the mixture. I’d just call it a couscous wrap, personally.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous wrap

Roasted Vegetable Couscous wrap

Once I got over that, though, I found this to be a nice surprise. There was a terrific presence of curry which I really like, but since it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s good to know. The other boost came from the accompanying Lemon Herb Yogurt sauce, which is flavored heavily with garlic and carries a fair bit of spicy heat. I found it to be delicious and addicting. I actually detected only a small hint of citrus, but the taste was so good otherwise I didn’t mind.

So basically, my experience was the exact opposite of what I expected: I was much more excited to try the Beef Bowl than the wrap, but walked away having enjoyed the wrap much more. Chock it up to one more win for Animal Kingdom’s above par vegetarian fare.

Lastly, I tried the Ginger Chicken Salad.

Ginger Chicken Salad

Ginger Chicken Salad

Ginger Dressing

Ginger Dressing

It’s simply greens and grilled chicken with ginger dressing and crunchy noodles alongside. This one matched what I’ve come to expect from salads at Disney: I’m consistently pretty pleased with the level of freshness.

Ginger Chicken Salad

Ginger Chicken Salad

Ginger Salad with accompanying toppings

Ginger Salad with accompanying toppings

Though the ginger dressing is tasty (sweet and tangy at the same time) and the noodles add some fun crunch, it’s not terribly unique from other chicken salads you’ll find on property (for instance, the Asian Salad with Chicken at ABC Commissary bears a strong resemblance, though that one is helped along with a hearty helping of edamame). But it still fits the bill for being a good option for someone on the hunt for something less heavy, and — perhaps even better — a chilled option on a hot day.

Overall

I’ve always had a soft spot for Local Food Cafes because it was somewhere I really liked visiting on vacation in the days before I lived in Florida, back when my entire goal was soaking up as much sun as possible before returning to the snowy north. Where Restaurantosaurus and Pizzafari will bring you fun and whimsy, the atmosphere at Local Food Cafes transports you and really keeps you immersed in the Anandapur marketplace, all while providing some decent eats.

True, a few dishes definitely standout more than others, and from my previous experiences the hot chicken dishes tend to rise to the top here (and I’m happy I can give the Couscous wrap a thumbs up, too). Even though my beef bowl wasn’t what I was hoping, I still give Local Food Cafes a recommendation if you’re looking for some tastes outside of the burger and pizza variety in a truly unique setting.

Which new menu item will you be trying? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments

  1. Michele says

    NOOOOOO!!! I’m so sad they took the Beef Lo Mein off the menu!! I’ve eaten that every time I’ve been at Animal Kingdom, and was looking forward to having it again this fall :(

  2. Galloping Gourmand says

    That seating area all the way in the vacation by the fountain is my favorite eating spot in the AK. The water is relaxing and there are always birds bathing in it. Don’t worry they are polite enough not to steal your food. Even at busy times its less crowded. Excuse people don’t bother to go all the way back.

  3. says

    As soon as I heard there was finally a vegetarian option at the counter service, we went to Animal Kingdom the next day to try it! It’s very tasty, I was quite pleased with it. Also just relieved that for the first time ever I could actually have an option there =)

  4. Sandra says

    We’ve tried this place three times and been disappointed. The quality of the food seemed even below what I could get at our local mall food court, with mystery meat, undercooked veggies, pasty rice, and sticky too-sweet sauces. The best things were the egg rolls and the Yak Attack, which I guess would make a nice lunch, but still.

    My husband might be willing to try the chicken salad but my son only liked the sweet and sour chicken (tossing the vegetables). For a better version of that, we go to Lotus Blossom at Epcot, which also has several other decent quick dishes, like curried vegetables. It would be so easy to offer a veggie lo-mein and inexpensive for the restaurant. They could have an option to add meat for an additional charge. As a person who eats mostly vegetarian meals, I am really worn out on wraps and burgers (although I do like the veggie burger at Restaurantosaurus). Really disappointed the food here isn’t better or more interesting.

    However, we do love the tea stand across from it!

  5. DebC says

    The birds are terribly annoying here. The one time we ate here they were all over the place. You couldn’t find a place to sit without birds and their mess. It really turned us off of this place.

  6. Mark D. says

    So I have seen this question asked and answered, but the answer always seems to be different. Does anyone know if we can use Landry’s gift cards here like we can in the Yak and Yeti restaurant?

  7. Mark says

    Always enjoy eating here. Agree with the comment about the beef low mein. Too bad it is gone. Same with sweet and sour shrimp. :( The seating in back is very relaxing except for the birds, but all in all definitely a place I would go back to.

  8. Galloping Gourmond says

    @DebC and @Mark – I’ve never had any issue with birds back there. They tended to keep to the water and the people who were feeding them. Then again I live in an area populated by seagulls and pigeons so I may have a high tolerance for birds.

    It’s also possible I smell like my cat.

  9. Anna says

    There is a great veggie couscous wrap offered at Daisy’s DeLites on the Disney Magic cruise ship. It is super fresh and healthy and has a good serving of veggies. Sounds perhaps even better than the one described here. Just a thought in case the Disney Menu Gods are reading this. Thanks for the review and photos, Wendy!

  10. Dana says

    I’ve heard that FlameTree Barbeque may be closed. Does anyone know if it is? I remember it being very good.

  11. Aaron says

    I’ve always wanted to try the local foods cafe, but I just can’t get around the completely dumbed down kid’s menu there. We usually pick options that have something more interesting for the kids (we’re usually on the dining plan), but chicken fingers, cheeseburger and pbj are the only options? I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t even have a kid’s sized honey chicken.

  12. Sayuri says

    I cannot believe they took off the Beef Lo Mein from the menu. It was simply my favourite, and I was looking forward to eating it again! :'(

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