Dining Review: Yak & Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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On a fairly busy Monday in Animal Kingdom amid post spring break crowds, I decided to make an impromptu Advanced Dining Reservation for my mother and me at Animal Kingdom’s table service restaurant, Yak & Yeti. I used Disney’s helpful online reservation system via my fancy schmancy Android phone to make an Advanced Dining Reservation for a little over an hour away. Yak & Yeti doesn’t get filled up quickly, especially for lunch (see menu), so it’s a great place to get a last minute table.

My mom and I arrived five minutes early for our 11:30 a.m. reservation and got seated right away. The restaurant is split up in two levels. You can choose to take the stairs or elevator up to your table if you are seated on the second level. If you love the ambiance of the entire Animal Kingdom park, you’ll be mesmerized by the vibe inside of Yak & Yeti. There are many artifacts and details spread throughout that really put you right in Asia. Comparing it to another sit-down meal in Animal Kingdom, Tusker House, I believe that Yak & Yeti brings a touch of class that Tusker House does not have. Clearly, Disney Imagineers put a lot of thought into the design of this restaurant.

Our waiter could not have been more attentive and polite. He was quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever had on Disney property. The service he provided was on the level of a signature Disney restaurant, which is quite hard to find inside of a park and not in a resort dining establishment.We ordered drinks, which were brought out to us promptly. Being that it was before noon, we avoided the alcoholic choices, though the restaurant does offer adult beverages.

We got a full explanation of the menu, and our waiter answered any questions that we had. I did inquire about what options on the menu could be made vegetarian. He explained that they had tofu on hand and could make many menu items with tofu instead of meat. The only appetizer that could be changed was the Lettuce Wraps. Under the entrees, I found out that almost any meat option could be easily prepared with tofu instead of chicken, pork, or beef. I’m not sure how Sweet and Sour Tofu would taste since I didn’t try it, but it is nice to know that there are options available for those with a limited palate.

I just love using the excuse that I’m dining “for research” because I get to order more food than I normally would, and then it justifies itself perfectly in my crazy little brain. My love for ahi tuna verges on obsessive, so when I saw that as a choice on the appetizer menu, I had to order it. I excused myself from the table to take check out the restroom (which was very nice, by the way) and take some photos of the beautiful restaurant. By the time I returned, my tuna was waiting for me. The presentation of the tuna, slaw, and wasabi aioli was lovely. Though, I gotta be honest… I had no idea what “aioli” was until I bravely ordered it. I’m not a huge wasabi fan traditionally (bad experience with wasabi mashed potatoes at Coral Reef once), but I found the aioli to be a creamy, light accompaniment that added a lot of flavor to the already delicious tuna. The slaw was really plentiful and tasted just like the menu said… sweet. I loved the addition of the peppers. I took my time with this appetizer and wasn’t completely done when our entrees came out, but I made sure to practically lick the plate clean.

My mother chose the Crispy Honey Chicken with brown rice and veggies. She was quite satisfied with it but did say that it was more of a healthy, freshly cooked version of Americanized Chinese food. Nevertheless, she enjoyed it very much. I’m pretty sure she could have gone to the Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café  (counter service, see menu) outside and found something comparable for about half the price.

I wanted to veer from the traditional Chinese food menu options, and so I ordered the Crispy Mahi Mahi. A coating of Japanese bread crumbs made the fish unique, but what added the extra amazing flavor was the Cantonese sweet and sour sauce served with it. I could have devoured that stuff with a spoon. I felt like I was eating Asian inspired mahi mahi, which means that Yak & Yeti nailed its concept. The large portion of fish was served on a bed of soft jasmine rice with a side of stir fry vegetables. I could have done without the vegetables since they seemed a little uninspired to me. My mom did say that she really liked them, though. To each her own!

We were much too full to order desser,  but our waiter went over each option with us and basically dangled the Fried Wontons served with fresh pineapple, ice cream, and a honey vanilla drizzle in my face (not literally) to the point that I thought about them the rest of the day. Kudos to him for doing his job so well! Next time, I’ll be ordering sugar filled deliciousness for sure.

Overall, our visit to Yak & Yeti was extremely positive and well worth the cost for both the food and experience. If I had any suggestions, it would be to expand the menu and be more unique with the offerings for non-seafood eaters. My mom was pretty limited to traditional Chinese food, which I didn’t think was fair.

From the reviews I’ve read in the past, Yak & Yeti seems to be a “love it or hate it” kind of place. What are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comments section!

 

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Posted on April 24, 2012

37 Responses to “Dining Review: Yak & Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom”

  • by Joe Wiggins on April 24, 2012, at 2:22 pm EDT

    We dined at Yak & Yeti and did order the Fried Wontons. They were light, refreshing & delicious. Dining at Disney, I love desserts that satisfy your craving for something sweet but don’t leave you feeling heavy while you resume your trek through the parks.

  • Great review, we have reservations here for late May. Now I can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

  • We’ve read mixed reviews as well but we loved our visit there. The food was very good, the service was excellent and the Fried Wontons were amazing! We would definitely dine here again!

  • by Ashley Tharp on April 24, 2012, at 2:33 pm EDT

    We have eaten at the Yak and Yeti twice. The food was really good both times, but the second time we had very poor service. We were there almost 2 hours, and it took forever to get our food, then our check. I wish there were more table servive options at AK!!

  • One of our favorites! We eat there every time we go:) Love it!

  • We stumbled into Y&Y almost accidentally on our last visit and thought it was the best unplanned meal we had on Disney property (we stayed off site). A gorgeous miso salmon for me and a crispy rice noodle salad for my husband – we remember both vividly and if it’s still as good as it was we’d go again.

  • I think Y&Y is one of the more under-appreciated places in the Disney dining world. First and foremost, as compared to Nine Dragons over at EPCOT, Y&Y absolutely blows it away if you’re in the mood for this sort of cuisine. I also like that it has a mix of fairly standard (Americanized) Chinese fare and more contemporary dishes (at least relatively speaking), so there are options regardless of how adventurous you’re feeling. Good stuff.

    • Nine Dragons is so horrible it’s only worth mentioning to pass on how bad it actually is. Overpriced Chinese food is their specialty. I think that if more families knew about Yak and Yeti, they’d cancel their reservations for Nine Dragons.

  • We ate there in 2008 with our children ages 13, 10 & 7. It was one of the best meals we had. We have adventurous kids and we all tried different things. We loved them all. The second floor was quiet and the view was beautiful. We are planning on going back this year.

  • We stopped in on a busy March day without a reservation and had an enjoyable experience seated at the comfortable bar. We were able to order from the full menu and had excellent service from the bartender. I would choose to do that again instead of making a reservation for table seating!

  • Eating there next week for the second time. One of the great secrets of WDW!

  • We went once shortly after they opened and weren’t crazy about it but we do have intent to try again… it’s just usually for dinner on an AK day we go to Sanaa, and it’s hard to break that!

    I do however wish Yak and Yeti would stop trying to sell the “Kobe Beef Burger” because it’s not Kobe beef.

  • Love Y&Y! We stumbled in on accident on our last trip and now it is a Must Do for us. The Wonton Soup is the best I ever had. I know wonton soup is a very basic dish, but there was a layering of flavors in it that was out of the world. My husband and I split an order of pot stickers, which were yum, and the same dish you ordered (Crispy Mahi Mahi). I agree that the fish was not anything special, but the sauce it came with more than made up for that. Loved that it was accompanied by jasmine rice.

  • My wife and I had doubts about Yak and Yeti the first time we went, and all I can say is we were blown away. It has become one of our top two favorites in terms of both food (I’m from Kansas City, and Y&Y has some the best ribs I’ve ever had) and service , and we make a concerted effort to dine there every time we come back to WDW.

  • Great post! Was debating doing Yak and Yeti on our next trip and I was really on the fence as I’m not a big seafood or sushi fan, but you talked me into it!

  • I agree, the ribs are among the best we ever had! We also like the potstickers appetizer and my kids love the lo mein. My mom always gets the honey chicken. All good,, the food, the service,, the atmosphere,, every time we have been there! It does seem like most people either love it or hate it, but we love it!!! We usually wait for a table on the second floor near the window,, yes, peaceful & great view:) Lots of nice detail, like beautiful chandeliers & decor. Best kept secret!

  • Yak and yeti should be the unofficial guide’s best value / best kept secret / and so on ….
    The book turned me on to dining at the Norway restaurant back before it was princess dining (which totally ruined that place in regards to price and popularity and probably food quality)… I’m really glad to have tried that.

    I was able to be part of the Yak and Yeti preview years back and was completely excited by the opening of a real table service restaurant in the heart of Animal Kingdom. At that time, tusker house was still counter service and the place in dinoland was the buffet. (Another switch I think was a bad idea).

    Yak and Yeti counter service has some drawbacks (size too small ; menu too limited) but the table service restaurant is completely the opposite. It’s much larger than typical table service (as it’s 2 floors) and if you’re lucky, the views out the window on the 2nd floor are great.

    The food is always good. (This restaurant is run by the Landry’s restaurant group, and seems to have their act together. They can hire servers exclusively and have much more control over food and every aspect of the restaurant.)

    Sometimes the food is better than other times, and I’ve had varying experiences, but it is rare that I don’t take the oppourtunity to go to Y&Y.

    It’s also rarely too crowded to get a table. Once I walked up and got right in (no reservation). It seems like they buck the trend of over booking advanced dining reservations and turning away guests in hand. (Like le cellier; which you could observe to be half empty but still turning people away).

    Yak and Yeti is just great. I never feel like I’ve been there, done that. I’d always pop in if I could — like it was my local PF Chang’s or something.

  • We chose Y&Y because my kids don’t like to be up close and personal for parades. We made a dining reservation for 30 minutes prior to Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. When we arrived, we asked to be seated upstairs by the windows. We had a GREAT view of the parade while sitting and dining on a wonderful meal!

  • We loved it! Had a great view of the parade. It wasn’t busy, the food was great and the service was wonderful.

  • My dad hated it and he will eat anything that doesn’t eat him first.
    At our house we replace the /Y/ with an /H/….. and say that the food is what made the Yeti so mad! That said – they couldn’t have been nicer when we were there and Im sure some people adore it. For us its the only restaurant in all of WDW we won’t go back to…

    • I’ve heard this many times before about Yak and Yeti. I do suggest that anytime you have a negative food experience at a non-Disney operated restaurant ask for a comment card. Yak and Yeti had some comment cards on the table to fill out after your meal. The only way they can make improvements is by guests telling them about their critisisms. I hope that some day your family will choose to go back and give it another shot on a whim. Thanks for your response!

  • Been once and hated it. I had high hopes but the food was bad and the service was worse. The ultimate was when I asked the waiter for salt and pepper and he reacted like I was asking for weapons grade plutonium.

    This and Le Cellier are my 2 only significant Disney dining disappointments.

    • That’s terrible! I’m so sorry to hear about your bad experience. Bad reviews for Yak and Yeti was the reason I was so nervous about trying it out myself. I think it just might be hit and miss or maybe they learned from some negative responses/reviews and tweeked some stuff recently.

      • Probably hit and miss like everywhere but it does put you off if you’ve experienced oly the ‘miss’.

        There was a critical write up of Coral Reef a couple of weeks ago and we loved our meal there, so it all balances out!

        I appreciate the info though it helps inform us whether to try somewhere again or whether certain food / service is consistent.

  • Went in February 2011 during an anniversary trip—food and service were excellent. I really liked the Asian-style BBQ ribs.

  • We went when the Yak & Yeti first opened (2007) and absolutely loved it. We always make a point to make reservations here if we can ever since. The foo is better Asian food than can be found in Epcot, and is definitely lighter, and less fried. We went crazy over the sweet & sour chicken and chicken lo mein. Especially the S&S chicken, since the chicken was cooked in a tempura style, so it was not heavily battered and deep fried which is common in most places, and was served with pineapple and bell peppers. We practically licked our plates clean.

    • I’d agree with this – I ate at Nine Dragons and then Yak & Yeti the following day and much preferred the latter. Had the shrimp tempura which was wonderful – sadly was much too full for dessert!

      Also had a wonderful waitress.

  • We went over spring break for lunch and loved it. Our service was very good. It was our first meal of the trip and first time on the dining plan, and the server patiently explained how the whole thing worked. I had the miso salmon and it was one of the best salmon dishes I’ve ever had anywhere. It was a lot of food for lunch. I don’t remember what the rest of the family had, but we all loved it.

  • It’s funny that you missed dessert because when we went, it was the only really great part of our meal. The entrees were standard American counter-service Chinese, with better presentation, IMHO. The mango pie, however, was totally delish, and my husband and kids still talk about the chocolate pudding cake!