Jiko Vegan Dinner Review in Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

In the before times, one of our favorite Disney signature dining locations for vegans was always Jiko in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This restaurant once had an abundance of unique vegan options and features cuisine inspired by India, Africa and the Mediterranean. After an extended closure, Jiko has just reopened and we were there opening night to cover the new vegan and returning items available.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort on the outskirts of Walt Disney World close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

When pulling up to the hotel you actually feel as if you’ve been transported to the African savanna.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

The interior of the resort is grand. Upon entering, take the stairs past the Victoria Falls Lounge to the ground floor. We sometimes start our evenings here with a pre-dinner cocktail.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Jiko Vegan Dinner Review in Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World

You’ll find Jiko right next door to Boma. You can read our review of Boma here: Vegan Disney Food Review: Breakfast at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and our Vegan Dinner review for Boma.

The restaurant entrance is tucked into a corner near the elevators and exit doors to the pool.

 

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Jiko does have its own bar and lounge, however it is extremely small with maybe two or three tables and about six barstools.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

The wine list here is extensive! The restaurant houses the largest foreign collection of South African wine. The list contains on average, 120–140 selections, and several are exclusive to Jiko.

The restaurant even has a private wine room that is sometimes open to guests during peak season.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Jiko Atmosphere

The atmosphere at Jiko is warm and inviting and is supposed to mimic an African sunset in its design. The ceiling with its birds in flight is a dark blue hue which sets off the bright yellow rear accent wall. The floor has hour-glass-shaped cut-outs which represent hay stacks in the field. The birds above represent the Canoe birds, which were said to bring prosperity and good harvest if they flew over farms, and luck to people they flew over.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

You’ll find rich tones and textures with a mixture of wood and wrought iron. The wall at the back will slowly change color over a 45 minute span of time, representing the changing colors of sunset. 

One entire wall has huge picture windows which look out onto a water feature and the perfectly manicured grounds.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Seating options include stand alone tables, banquettes and a handful of booths.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

You can also request to sit at “The Cooking Place” show-kitchen counter by the twin wood burning ovens to watch cooks prepare flatbreads, salads and starters. Jiko is Swahili for “the cooking place”. There are only six stools here and it’s by request only.

Full disclosure, there will be non-vegan items being prepared in this area so keep that in mind when requesting to be seated here.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Check out the hidden mickeys where the oven flues meet the ceiling.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Vegan Food Options

Your Jiko dinner service will start with warm rose-scented towels to wash your hands with. We’ve also often times been presented with a mint tea palate cleanser to start, but that was not the case on reopening night.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

As I mentioned before, the Jiko wine list is rather large. Not into wine? No problem. The bar is mixing signature cocktails here as well.

Below is the African Old Fashioned with Bains African whiskey, bitters, orange bitters and Madagascar vanilla which we’ve had in the past, and the African Star Mojito which we enjoyed on reopening night. 

 

Here is the updated menu for the reopened Jiko – with vegan options noted with the leaf logo:

Jiko menu 2022

The previous complimentary bread service here was a gorgeous cake like loaf topped with herbs and thinly sliced tomato. It’s served with a parsley infused olive oil, pictured below. Sadly, this is no longer the case and the new bread service is two different types of bread, both containing dairy and served with butter. We were given gluten-free rolls and olive oil. The previous vegan bread – no longer served: 

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

The front of the photo below is the current vegan bread service at Jiko (we hope this is improved upon soon!). The back of the photo is the non-vegan bread service at Jiko, which contains dairy:

vegan and non-vegan bread service Jiko

We used to love to start our dinner service off with the modified Taste of Africa ($15). Sadly this offering has been discontinued, but we’ll leave the photos here in case the chefs come to their senses and bring it back. This normally came with three bread options but only one was vegan.

You got several very crisp pappadum and had to skip the sesame fatir and flax seed naan as they weren’t vegan friendly. The trio of accompaniments that came with them included a hummus, mango chutney and one spice heavy tomato based dip.

Vegan Dinner Review of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

 

Currently, the only vegan appetizer is the Jiko Salad – $16, which is absolutely a work of art. I actually enjoyed this more than the entree truth be told. 

vegan Jiko Salad

The Jiko Salad is a bed of quinoa dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. On top you’ll find yellow carrots, little knots of orange carrots, watermelon radish, black radish, cucumber curls, sliced grape tomatoes, crystal lettuce (the little plants that look like succulents), wedges of figs, pomegranate seeds, and 3 dollops of cashew cheese.

vegan Jiko Salad

I mean, how beautiful is that? I absolutely loved this salad. all of the flavors and textures were a delight to the palate. The crystal lettuce was something I’d never had before and tasted like you were eating a plant, and not a usual lettuce taste, but I loved that. 

vegan Jiko Salad

The cashew cheese was the perfect supporting role, tangy, a little sweet, and perfectly smooth. I loved trying a new veggie with a little of the cheese on each bite. This salad was so satisfying and stunning to look at! Do not pass it by. 

Previously, the entree options included Bo Kaap Malay Vegetable Curry with tofu and seasonal vegetables in a rich coconut curry sauce with basmati rice. West African Koki Corn filled with mushrooms and peppers and garnished with fresh greens. The Koki Corn sits on a base of roasted red pepper sauce and poblano-tomatillo puree. And the modified Maize Crusted Tofu which comes with vegetables of the moment, which happened to be beans, corn and peas on the evening we dined. You had to specify that you wanted this prepared vegan and swap out the tomato buerre blanc for a vegan friendly sauce. Now we have just one vegan entree option. 

 

 

I asked a chef if anything else was modifiable or could be created off-menu and was told that at this time they are just focusing on the reopening and getting up to speed, but they would be working on adding things in the future. The new vegan entree at Jiko is now the plant-based Injera Basket – $38.

 

vegan Injera Basket Jiko

If you’ve dined at an Ethiopian restaurant or been lucky enough to have someone cook Ethiopian food for you, this may look a little familiar. The injera bread is very common in Ethiopian cuisine and usually served in a large tortilla type size, which you just rip off and use to scoop up various fillings.

I’ll describe every option below, starting with the pink items, which is atchar or pickled un-ripe mango and chilis. This was very vinegary and the texture was that of a sliced apple. A lovely complement to some of the other flavors here.

vegan Injera Basket Jiko

The other items included with the vegan Injera Basket at Jiko are Portobello Mushroom Wat with flavors of cumin and cardamom. I love mushrooms, and wat flavors, so this was wonderful for me. The tomatoes are a Tomato Kachumbari with tomatoes and onions in a vinegar and lime flavor. I love anything vinegar-based so this was also delicious. 

vegan Injera Basket Jiko

One of the other main fillings was golden lentils. I love lentils as well, but this fell flat for me, with no real flavor at all, it was just lentils with no additional flavoring that stood out. Obviously you can see mustard seeds and herbs in there, but you could only really taste lentils. Now that may be on purpose, because if you are adding the little toppings of the tomatoes, the atchar or the harissa, you’ll have plenty of flavor here. 

vegan Injera Basket Jiko

The other main filling item was very unique. Beet greens and other root vegetables in a cashew milk base. I’m not too sure of the other flavors here but it was very sweet and very unique. Not my favorite, but it may be someone else’s. 

The red sauce is a rose-water harissa, which we were warned several times would be very spicy. It was spicy, I’d say maybe a 6 out of 10. It didn’t stick with you too long if you ate something else. That said, it was delicious and really unique. I love harissa flavorings, and the rose-water in this one is very pronounced. I was surprised at how much you could taste the rose water. All of these dishes are really keeping your taste buds on their toes! 

vegan Injera Basket Jiko

Overall, this was a really unique dish, and I did enjoy it. I do hope they add some additional offerings in the coming days because I’m not sure I’d come back just for this dish. The salad, yes. I feel like this dish would be an amazing appetizer offering on a smaller scale for everyone to enjoy at the table together (and be thankful for the rose-water towels everyone used to wash their hands off before dining). 

There were once also three, yes three, vegan options for dessert, one of which made the cut and returned to Jiko for its new menu. 

African Drum Beets vegan Jiko

This is the African Drum ‘Beets’ – $14.  This dish starts with a base of candied red and golden beets and some crumbled up vegan chocolate cake. The white drum-shaped dome is filled with coconut strawberry beet mousse on top of a thin layer of chocolate cake, sprayed with a white cocoa butter spray. The dish is garnished with freeze dried passion fruit and balsamic strawberries, and passion fruit gelee. 

African Drum Beets vegan dessert Jiko

You can see the strawberry beet mousse peeking through here. Overall, I enjoyed this multi-layered dessert. The different textures and flavors were again, wonderful to experience. I will say that our strawberries seemed like they were perhaps sitting a little too long in the balsamic, they were starting to get a little zing to them and that flavor really took me out of the rest of the dish. The main “drum” part was delicious though and I really do appreciate such a beautiful vegan option. 

Jiko vegan fiandises

Our meal was ended with a “friandises” (this is how it was listed on the check) which is a French word for a little tidbit, a delicacy, a treat. In this form it is a little fruit gel – not a gummy, a little softer, coated with sugar. We checked and it is made with pectin, not gelatin so it’s good to go for us vegans visiting Jiko! 

 

And that my friends is our updated review of the vegan options at Jiko in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Loge. This was once by far one of our favorite restaurants on Walt Disney World property. We will have to see if they add to their options to earn that title once more. They are only open for dinner service so keep that in mind when planning. Be sure you’re subscribed to our VeganDisneyFood YouTube channel and have notifications turned on (click the bell!) for our video review:

Connect with us on social media: @vegandisneyfood on instagram, VeganDisneyFood on facebook and VeganAtDisney on twitter to see the latest updates we share.

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