Disney’s Jiko, The Cooking Place is a culinary dining experience that consistently receives rave reviews in the Disney community. This signature restaurant is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
This Jiko review will look at the menu, location, and overall dining experience. In addition, I’ll provide a few tips for touring the lodge during your visit.
Jiko is often referred to as one of the best places to eat at Walt Disney World. You’ll find the restaurant listed as one of our top five choices in our signature dining guide.
The restaurant’s atmosphere provides a subtle African vibe combined with class and sophistication. Jiko’s menu reflects a variety of African, Mediterranean, and Indian cuisine.
This article was updated on February 17, 2022. Jiko, The Cooking Place is now open.
Jiko at Disney Review
Jiko, The Cooking Place is the only fine dining experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You’ll find the restaurant located on the lower level of the resort, right past Boma, Flavors of Africa.
When it comes to dining at Jiko, I have to give the experience a full five stars. The restaurant comes in so high because of the overall experience, unique menu items, location, ambiance, and quality!
One of Jiko’s attributes is the calming ambiance offered at the restaurant. While this is a fine dining experience, the restaurant still provides a casual resort feel.
The restaurant also doesn’t make you feel too formal or stuffy when dining here. For me, it’s calming, probably, because a majority of the restaurant looks out onto this exterior view below.
Here is a look at the interior of Jiko. On a recent visit, I stepped into the restaurant before they opened to take an interior photo.
Guests commonly ask if Jiko has a dress code. And the answer is yes. All of the signature dining locations at Disney World have a dress code.
Fortunately, the dress code isn’t stringent. You are on vacation after all.
The sign states above: No tank tops, swimsuits, or cover-ups. No hats for gentlemen, cut-offs, or torn clothing of any kind.
Casual resort attire is welcome at Jiko and the other signature restaurants. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be formal or dress up for a special occasion. You will likely see various people in different attire during your meal.
To get to Jiko from the resort lobby, you’ll need to take the staircase or elevator down to the lower level.
There’s a landing that’s home to Victoria Falls, which is the resort’s lounge, along the way down. The lounge is a fun place to grab a cocktail if you were to arrive early for your reservation.
At the bottom of the stairs, Boma, Flavors of Africa is directly in front of you. You’ll take a right here and continue straight to Jiko, The Cooking Place.
In addition, there’s a set of elevators you can take from the lobby down to the lower level. They are on the right-hand side of the lobby before you reach the stairs. Once you reach the lower level, Jiko is right around the corner.
Jiko does have a private bar located at the front of the restaurant. The area provides a place to sit and have a cocktail while waiting for your reservation.
The view below is outside the restaurant on the walkway that circles the resort’s pool area.
Related: Pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Additionally, Jiko has a large chef’s bar where food is prepared in front of you. If you like, you can request to sit at the Chef’s Bar and enjoy interaction with the chef during your meal.
I would imagine this would be an exciting and enlightening dining experience. This evening, I was invited to sit at the chef’s bar.
Unfortunately, I elected to sit at a private table because I had my camera and a larger backpack. Looking back, I wish that I had chosen to sit at the bar.
Upon arrival, the hostess presented me with a hot towel on a plate for refreshing my hands. It was a warm and welcome touch.
I was then given a menu to review and a sample of tea. Jiko has a separate menu offering specialty tea. This night I tried the Moroccan Mint.
This Moroccan Mint was a classic blend of Chinese gunpowder tea and mint. The gunpowder’s earthiness and vegetal notes anchor the mint’s brightness.
I enjoyed this tea, and it was a great start to such a palatable evening.
Bread service is provided at the beginning of the meal. These soft, fluffy rolls are divine, and that’s a spread of soft butter next to them. That butter was extremely spreadable, in case you can’t tell.
This is not to be confused with the fantastic bread service at Sanaa, located down at Kidani Village. You’ll want to plan a meal there too during your vacation.
Related: Sanaa Review with Bread Service
The wine for this meal was ordered by the glass, but the server left the bottle for the picture.
One of the items that Jiko prides itself on is the impressive wine list and number of offerings. I went with the Painted Wolf “Guillermo” Pinotage, Swartland.
The wine came in at $16 for a glass, which was a little high, given a bottle retails at about $20. However, it was a nice pour and an excellent start to the meal.
For appetizers, I had an order of mushroom flatbread that fell into the “From the Cooking Place” category of the menu. Being a fan of mushrooms, I knew this would be my first selection after reviewing the menu.
You can view the menu here on Disney’s site.
Per the menu: Mushroom Flatbread–Mushrooms, Duxelle, Maize-rusted Pickled Mushrooms, Curried Ricotta, Midnight Moon Goat Cheese
The flatbread was an excellent choice. However, it was a colossal appetizer. The server warned me of the size before ordering.
Since I had also chosen an entree, I ate only half of the flatbread and had the remainder boxed for takeout.
There were some tough choices when it came to deciding on an entree. Everything on the menu looked favorable.
I had difficulty deciding between the sustainable Vulcan-spiced fish, Mrouzia-style Moroccan lamb shank, and the cocoa-crusted bison. Ultimately, I ended up going with the cocoa-crusted bison.
When my entree arrived, I was pleased with my selection.
Per the menu: Cocoa-crusted Bison–Butternut Gnopi, Glazed Root Vegetables, Bain’s Whisky-Poached Peaches, Saffron Crema, Ghana Chocolate Demi-glace
That orange item to the side of the above plate is the poached peach with saffron crema. It was delicious.
Below, we have a better look at the butternut gnopi and demi-glace on the side of the plate.
Even though the menu mentions chocolate, that is not the flavor you get with this pairing. The bison was buttery with a hint of sweet that left your taste buds lingering for another bite.
Jiko also offers a fine selection of dessert items if you have room at the end of your meal.
Here is a look at the dessert offerings on the menu during my visit.
After having such a large meal already, there was no room left for dessert. However, the chef was kind enough to bring two chocolate truffles to sample at the end of the meal.
It was the perfect ending to the entire culinary experience.
In addition, Jiko hosts a Wanyama Safari and dining experience. You can check for availability on Disney’s site here. As of this last update, the experience has yet to return. Hopefully, it will in the future.
The experience includes a 90-minute safari that ends with a multi-course meal, dessert, and wine sampling. Only twelve people are allowed on each experience, so make sure to reserve this in advance if you have any interest.
Final Thoughts on Jiko, The Cooking Place
Overall, Jiko is one of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World. And I doubt if you ask around that anyone will argue.
If you decide to make a reservation at Jiko, take at least an hour or so to tour the Animal Kingdom Lodge during your visit. The resort has multiple viewing areas to see the animals on the savanna.
Additionally, there’s art on display in the lobby and throughout the resort’s interior. You might find a spot around the fireplace in the lobby and relax a bit.
Just outside Jiko, there’s a walkway that leads to one of the savanna viewing areas. It’s a pleasant area and quite beautiful at sunset.
There are quite a few things to see from time to time. These flamingos are usually out in this area on the backside of the pool.
A little past the flamingos, there’s an open viewing area. You might find a few baby giraffes out in the area. I’ve been lucky enough to see them a few times.
After dark, a cultural representative is often out with a pair of night viewing goggles. So if it’s already dark, don’t let that stop you from stopping by.
And the interior of the Animal Kingdom Lodge is worth taking the time to explore. There’s a good deal to see in the lobby.
If you are interested in other dining options at the resort, make sure to check out the complete Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurant Guide.
Or you might enjoy these specific Disney restaurant reviews:
- Grand Floridian Cafe Review
- Ale & Compass Breakfast Review
- California Grill Dinner Review
- Yachtsman Steakhouse Review
You might also enjoy our Disney World Hotels list. It includes a link to every resort we have coverage of available on the site.
Comments: As for this review of Jiko, The Cooking Place, what do you think? Have you had the opportunity to dine here? Will you plan a reservation?