Recently I visitied Walt Disney World and stumbled across the Yak&Yeti Restaurant, owned by Landry’s, in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We were on the Disney Dining Plan and opted to take a chance. Unfortunately we didn’t have reservations that day and I would strongly encourage anyone to do so beforehand, but trust me when I say if you don’t have reservations, it really is worth the wait. But after walking and waiting in lines throughout the day it would be nice to have that reservation, think of it like a fast pass.
Outside of the restaurant they have a menu posted behind glass for all to see. From the outside, the &Yeti has the appeal of Indian cuisine, but don’t be fooled. The menu posted listed wonton soup, lo mein noodles, etc. It gave off the appearance of food from the orient or the Everest region. At the time we were ready for lunch and decided to wait the 40 min wait to get in as we didn’t have reservations, again why I highly recommend getting reservations ahead of time. But trust me when I say that the wait was worth it.
The Yak&Yeti is located on the left and side of the park as you are walking toward the ride Expedition Everest and it is on the left just a little before that ride. The appearance from the outside, makes it look more like a gift shop, but don’t be fooled. They put a banner on the outside, but the Yak&Yeti sets in a little off the path, so it could easily be missed if you are in a hurry to go on a ride or make it to the next one, so slow down and keep your eyes open. You don’t want to misswe this place.
Once inside the Yak&Yeti, the décor gave off an orient type feel or like a restaurant you would imagine in an Indiana Jones movie. The hostess took us to the second floor of the restaurant where we opted to take the elevator, which was quite nice after being on our feet so much throughout the day and days prior. Once upstairs we were greeted by our waitress, Steph, who did nothing but deliver top quality sevice from the start. Steph was very personable and great with children. The first thing the kids noticed were the paper straws. That’s right paper straws. I was impressed as Steph gave an explanation to us all why they used paper straws, and a lesson to the kids about the environment and animals. Inside the Animal Kingdom we learned that they only use paper straws as the plastic straws could be harmful to animals inside the park and could make them sick, or worse. The Yak&Yeti from the start was setting and leading by example in all of our eyes.
I’ll be honest, i’m not always one to be in the mood from food from different cultures, but I am writing a food blog and needed to be adventurous. Steph directed our attention off of the regular menu and told us that the best thing there was the rib eye steak on the specialty menu. According to her, it use to be a house specialty that was taken off the menu and just recently added to the specialty menu. She told us how much she loved it and that it should be on their regular menu as it was so popular when they had it and was in high demand. I looked briefly at the description and saw that it had soy in it’s flavoring, and was worried about the over powering taste soy can deliver if too much is used but still opted to have it. After all, Steph said it was the best thing on the menu, so I knew I had to try it and test how good it really was. I wanted it seasoned and cooked just as it was. The only thing I requested was to have it cooked medium well. The kids opted to have them make a dish of lo mein and chicken.
Now let me say this, I was ready to be disappointed by the steak, after all it had soy. first I wait for my children to try their lo mein and chicken. Let’s face it, kids can be the toughest critics, and they were impressed. Their reactions and words were priceless. They said “oh my god this is good. So good.” All of a sudden my fear of being disappointed turned into a feeling of curiosity. I had to try a piece of that rib eye.
I cut into the rib eye, I must say it cut beautifully, it was cooked to perfection, but how about the taste. The moment of fear was cast a side as I dove in for a bite, and was I surprised to say the least. By far one of the best rib eye steaks I’ve ever had. There was no distinct flavor of soy but a well balanced mix and blend of spices. It was amazing. It came with potatoes. And the potatoes, let me say this, flavorful. The potatoes were seasoned like I’ve never had. I guess it may have been a wasabi oil by product or something mixed like spices, but it was so good. I didn’t need butter or gravy or anything like that which is unusual for me. They were just perfect. It also came with a mixed vegetable of the Himalayan region which was good. I had to agree hands down with Steph, the ribeye was the best thing on the menu, and how could something that good not be on the regular menu? That’s one thing I would say that the Yak&Yeti need to do is get that ribeye on the regular menu. It was world class for sure. And Steph was already a great waitress from the start but she went right to world class herself for recommending such a great meal. I admit, I was a skeptic, ready to rip it apart, but after my first bite, I knew I was defeated and quickly fell in love. It was probably the best feeling to be defeated by a great waitress and amazing chef’s. That steak was out of this world and the potatoes… amazing.
The kids kept ranting about their lo mein and chicken they had made special. Steph had mentioned the chef’s could make it for them as that is what they wanted and let me say this, again it was world class. I could’ve eaten more of that as well. The lo mein cooked and seasoned perfectly along with the boneless chicken. I think how I almost walked by this place and actually had several times as it really looks like a gift shop from the outside. Of course we asked for directions to the restaurant in the beginning, and I’m glad we did. Like a pirate with a treasure map, this place was a hidden treasure for sure.
For desert… the choices. I know there was fried wontons, a New York cheesecake, and a pineapple upside down cake. Steph recommended the pineapple upside down cake. She thought it was the best dessert on the menu. After her first recommendation of the steak, I had already waved the white flag inside, and went with her recommendation. But this time the fear turned into excitement as my palate awaited. And again, the Yak&Yeti hit it out of the park. The warm taste of the pineapple and pastry with the ice cream was unbelievable. I got to even try the New York Cheesecake my son had ordered, and even he said it was great and it was. My daughter opted for the fried wonton, and that was amazing. Everything that we had was out of this world.
By far I would highly recommend the Yak&Yeti as a must stop and don’t miss restaurant. I’ll be honest, I almost walked away just by the appearance of the outside, as I’m not one for always having Chinese or soy in my food, but I am so glad that I did. Don’t be fooled by this great place. It is a hidden gem for sure. As you walk by, be on the look out for the Yak&Yeti, it’s not a gift shop, but the best gift is inside, and I would recommend the ribeye and the lo mein with chicken. And hopefully you are lucky enough to have a world class waitress like Steph and a world class experience like we all did. Make sure the Yak&Yeti is one of your restaurant stops. You won’t be disappointed!! World class!!