While the food options are abundant and varied at the Animal Kingdom park, Yak & Yeti is surely a must when in Anandapur. Authentic in look and feel (based on never having been to Anandapur, but trusting the Disney Imagineers to have done their homework), from the wall hangings to the ornate carvings, there’s no place your eye can linger that isn’t met with awe and appreciation. This is truly one of the Animal Kingdom’s hidden treasures (until you discover it), so if nothing else, make a point of stepping inside. If you have an appetite, though, you’ll either want to make a reservation or come off-hour, lest you’ll be in for a wait. Still, the wait is well worth it.
Once you’re led to your one-of-a-kind table by an authentic hostess, you’ll have the option of ordering a drink from the full bar (yes, there’s a full bar!) or a pint on tap, which you’ll be encouraged to get because you’ll actually be saving money by getting more beer. You don’t need to do the math to appreciate this is a good deal (though Mark did the math anyway and it is, in fact, a good deal). Even if you’re not a “beer is the most refreshing beverage there is” kind of person, you will be glad you allowed yourself to be gently convinced into ordering the pint, for no matter what you order, it will pair splendidly with your bottomless brew and you’ll leave feeling lighter on your feet and more open of mind.
And speaking of food…
The menu is tantalizing—and authentically Asian-esque with a fusion flair. From the appetizers to the entrees to everything in between and beyond, there’s plenty to challenge your decision-making process, particularly if you’re an adventurous eater. If so, don’t hesitate to tell that to your waiter or waitress, and ask for recommendations. One of the Yak & Yeti highlights is how genuinely engaged the staff is in the entire dining experience, from the quality of the food to the quality of the service. You will not feel neglected here, or hurried along to make room for the next load of tourists. If you show enthusiasm for the unique experience this is, you’ll most certainly find that attitude reciprocated by your server.
If your appetite isn’t infinite and you’re conflicted by how to try as many interesting things as you can without having to be carted away by a yoke of yak (and a yeti), consider sharing a couple appetizers and an entree. The wok-fried green beans are enough to make any meat lover reconsider the value of the vegetable, and the steamed mussels (if in season) are unexpectedly complex and aromatic. The lettuce cups are anything but bland and vapid, and the potstickers and eggroll are what potstickers and eggroll used to be before they became stereotypes of frozen, doughy barfood. If you aren’t afraid of heat and spice, again, let your server know. Many of the appetizers are accompanied by spicy dips and such, but they can also be prepared with a higher heat index, as well as upped by a little added dash of Sriracha and garclic/chili sauce that your waiter/waitress will be only too happy to hook you up with.
But wait… there’s more (food, that is)!
Where the entrees are concerned, you’ll wish Yak & Yeti could deliver to your hotel, because there are more things you’ll want to try than you’ll be able to order in a single trip (unless you’re a food blogger). On our last visit, we shared a mind meld with our waiter, Tony, who artfully guided us not only into making good decisions for ourselves, but ones we never would have made on our own. One of them was the chicken lo mein. Left on our own, we would’ve dismissed it instantly: Why would we order chicken lo mein on our vacation when we order it all the time from our neighborhood Chinese take-out? Why? Because Tony enticed us: “This isn’t your everyday chicken lo mein,” he touted, “here it’s made fresh to order. The noodles are made right here, every day, and cooked super-fast with the sauce, so they just absorb all that flavor without any of the greasiness you normally associate with lo mein, and when it’s all combined—white-meat chicken and vegetables that still have life in them… I’m telling you, you won’t be sorry. It’s one of my favorite things on the menu. And the carb-to-protein ratio is ideal for the way you guys do the park.” Yes, he “got” us. And he did not misrepresent the lo mein, which was exactly as he’d described: fresh, flavorful and ultimately satisfying. We also thoroughly enjoyed the barbecued baby-back ribs, which were messy, spicy, and a little more than we could handle only because we’d gone against Tony’s first recommendation that we get a half order of the green beans instead of the full. Yes, Tony read us better than we did.
Likely you’ll leave feeling more full than maybe you’d prefer, but hey, you just drank your weight in cold, refreshing Kirin on tap and that in itself was worth it. Besides, you’ll walk it off in no time. You’re at the Animal Kingdom, after all, and there’s a lot of ground to cover.