The Ultimate Yak & Yeti Review
One of the misconceptions at Walt Disney World is that The Walt Disney Company owns and operates all of the restaurants in their theme parks. While this statement is mostly true, there are a couple of notable exceptions. Both of them are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Landry’s Inc. runs a pair of restaurants. Today, I will review the one that is NOT a national sensation aka Rainforest Café. Here’s everything that you need to know about Yak & Yeti Restaurant.
Animal Kingdom is admittedly a massive park, easily the biggest of the four at Walt Disney World. Thankfully, Yak & Yeti Restaurant is easy to find. You’ll head over to the Asia section of the park. You can use two attractions as your landmarks, depending on the side from which you approach the restaurant.
Guests walking from the Africa themed land will travel past through the new show, UP! A Great Bird Adventure. When you see Russell and Dug, you’ll know that you’re getting close. The restaurant is on the path just beyond the seating area for UP!
Guests approaching from the DinoLand U.S.A. section will pass Expedition Everest along the way. This pass is a bit twisty, so you may get turned around if you’re not paying attention. If you wind up at Maharajah Jungle Trek, you’ve gone too far. Just turn around and head back. When the road splits, Yak & Yeti is on your right.
The easiest path is straight north. Walk through Discovery Island along the path toward Asia. Yak & Yeti is at the end of this path. So, go this way if you have a choice.
Since Disney doesn’t own this place, it’s not as tightly themed as other restaurants. By all other standards, it’s exceptional, though. You’re dining in someone’s home. Specifically, a gentleman named Arjun was once a successful and wealthy merchant. He’s since fallen on hard times and had to open his home to travelers.
His residence is now called the Yak & Yeti Hotel, and it has a phenomenal location. It resides at the base of the Himalayan Mountains. With so many travelers and merchants passing through the region, it’s acquired an eclectic mix of cooking styles over the years. Villagers and nomads alike visit this place regularly, for it has the finest cuisine in town.
Yes, the theme is an elaborate excuse to serve a deep roster of menu items. While Disney isn’t afraid to specialize with its menus, the third party companies on the Walt Disney World campus tend to build large menus. Yak & Yeti is a blueprint example of this trend. The difference here is that all of the foods are sublime.
You’ll also notice that the restaurant exists in two forms. It has a Table Service menu that will make any sane person salivate. On the side of the building is a second restaurant, a Quick Service establishment with grab-and-go food items like wraps, bowls, and a cheeseburger. It’s odd to see a hot dog and Vegetable Tikka Masala on the same menu, but that’s business as usual at Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café.
For the purposes of this review, we’ll focus on the Table Service restaurant. Before I discuss the food, however, I want to highlight the fact that seating is at a premium here. Yak & Yeti is wildly popular, especially with Floridians. They know where the best food at Walt Disney World is, and so you should expect a line here.
I’ll offer one pro tip now and one later. When the restaurant is crowded, the host/hostess will suggest that you dine at the bar. Take them up on this offer. You can order off the full menu. You can even use the Disney Dining Plan. Yak & Yeti requires one Table Service entitlement under this plan. Plus, the bar and lounge section is quite lovely.The Food
A quick glance at the Yak & Yeti menu reveals just how much variation is available here. At last count, 18 different entrees are options. By Disney’s standards, that’s a large amount, but it doesn’t even tell the entire story. The menu also features 14 different small bites, appetizers, and shareables plus six desserts. Not counting beverages, that’s 38 (!) different food items available at Yak & Yeti.
Which ones are the best? A quick survey of family members reveals that the Dragon Roll and Firecracker Shrimp are the appetizers of choice. I would have voted for the Pork Pot Stickers, and I’m a surprised that there wasn’t more support for the Dim Sum Basket, which always seems to be empty at our table.
For entrees, the standout is the succulent Crispy Orange Chicken, although some folks favor the other chicken dish, Sweet and Sour Chicken. The most decadent elevation of comfort food is the Sriracha Seafood Mac & Cheese, whose name alone should cause you to salivate. As a meat lover, I switch between the Korean BBQ Ribs, the Kobe Beef Burger (don’t laugh…it’s a phenomenal burger), and Soy Herb Glazed Rib Eye. Carnivores like me will be happy with any of these choices.
At dessert, you truly cannot go wrong with any of the choices. Anecdotally, my family prefers the Chocolate Pudding Cake the most followed by Mango Pie and Fried Wontons. We’ve tried all of them, however, and I can honestly say that the desserts here are universally excellent. You may never know this, though.
Odds are good that if you order an appetizer and entrée, you will be faaaaaaar too full for dessert. This isn’t a place where you’ll leave food at your plate. You’ll have no control over your fork or stomach as they almost reflexively work in union to eat more of the delicacies on hand.
Here’s the dirty secret in my marriage. My wife doesn’t love me the way that she loves Yak & Yeti. To her, I’m just a date that worked out okay. Her first meal at Yak & Yeti, on the other hand, was a life-changing moment.
At most Disney parks, we try to change things up and eat at different restaurants each time. When we’re at Animal Kingdom, if I even suggested a place other than Yak & Yeti, she would bite my face off. I’m not really sure I’m joking about this, either.
She gets that same look about Yak & Yeti that stray dogs do when someone drops a piece of hamburger on the ground. This seems like a good time to add that my wife is housebroken…and I DO feed her. It’s just that the food at this restaurant is so good that it causes her to go a little crazy.
One of our favorite things to do as a family involves the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (DDDP). With this version of the plan, each guest receives an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. My brother’s family joins us at Yak & Yeti as part of our family tradition, and all of us are on the DDDP. So, we order the feast of all feasts: five appetizers, five entrees, and five desserts.
Our server always looks at us like we’re gluttonous and insane. We can’t even argue the point, but it’s the best meal we eat each year other than Thanksgiving dinner. And, frankly, if doing this is wrong, we don’t wanna be right. The food at Yak & Yeti is in the conversation for best overall cuisine at Walt Disney World.
You owe it to yourself to eat here. Period.
Pro tip: Earlier, I discussed that Yak & Yeti is oftentimes booked. Savvy Mickey Travelers know that there’s a workaround to this problem. To guarantee seating at the restaurant, you should join Landry’s Club. Membership costs $25, but don’t let that deter you from signing up.
When you become a member, Landry’s will load a $25 gift card balance onto your account. Then, they’ll add another $25 the month of your birthday. That’s $50 worth of credit for $25, assuming that you can visit during your birth month. Since the prices are reasonable here, you could possibly pay for a meal with that credit.
That’s not even the best part, though. Since Landry’s is a standalone entity with its own corporate goals, you’ll get different, better treatment here as a Landry’s Club member. Even when you don’t have a reservation, your host/hostess will place you near the front of the waiting list. At times, they’ll tell other guests that Yak & Yeti can’t seat them, yet they’ll have a table ready for you in short fashion.
Also, the staff will treat you like royalty. Oftentimes, the manager on duty comes over and personally thanks you for being a member/loyal customer. It’s an empowering feeling on top of the deliciousness of the meal.