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Friday, January 22, 2010

Jiko - Animal Kingdom Lodge

I usually always go to the Animal Kingdom on my first day at the World which means that evening I will hit Jiko for dinner since it is close.  No reason to go all the way out to AKL just for dinner.  Might as well hit it when we are at the park as well.  I have been to Jiko 5 times now.  I always enjoy myself enough to keep it in the must do rotation but it has never been number one overall.  

I love Jiko. The hotel is beautiful and the dining is always special. I was stone cold sober today (and for the majority of the trip after the Tune-In Lounge incident) so I have better notes for this dinner.

1/4-1/3 of the tables had children dining. These ranged from high-chair to 10 years and all were well behaved. They were all enjoying themselves and the 2 year old even had the good manners not to scold his Dad when HE knocked his wine glass over and broke it on the floor.

For the Appetizer we had:

Maize and Sweet Potato "Tamales" - Herbed Maize Pudding and Trufffled Sweet Potato Mash, with Shredded Goat Cheese in Corn Husk Boat - $8
This was soooo yummy I can hardly describe it. The pudding was firm, almost like fine polenta in texture. The goat cheese gave the sweetness of the potatoes a tangy edge. I ate one and took the other one to go so I could save room for dessert. Grade: A-

Taste of Africa: Kalamata Olive Hummus, Moroccan Chermoula, and Malayan Spinach-Lentil Dip with Pappadam, whole wheat lavosh, and flax seed naan bread. - $9

If you are brave, this starter gives you some really new flavors to sample with various crackers/bread. I tried a few. The red one had a hot finish that my white breadish sensibilities needed to follow with some water. Not uber hot, just a little spicy. The others were an explosion of great flavors.   A-.

Bread with butter: I am mentioning this, though I don't have a picture because the butter was amazing. it was called Indian butter and was served with fresh baked wheat bread. The butter contained: ginger, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper along with a few other spices. AMAZING! Grade: A

Kenyan Coffee BBQ-Braised Beef Short Rib - with crushed Idaho and Sweet Potatoes and Onion-Garlic Sauce $29.00
Catwoman had the Beef Short Ribs.  They were fork tender, the coffee flavor made a rich, smokey flavor that melded with the beef.  The potatoes and garlic complemented the ribs without making it heavy.  B+

Pan-roasted Jumbo Scallops with golden brown mealie pap and spicy tomato-onion ChakaLaka $29.00
So if I couldn’t have the beef filet, then I would go in the opposite direction and have seafood.  The scallops were perfectly done and very tasty.  Soft, with the slight crunch of the sear and the cornmeal type topping.  I personally, prefer a lighter, more cream based type of sauce.  Something with garlic or curry or saffron.  The tomato was a little heavy for me but still a respectable dish – B

Berbere-braised Lamb Shank with Toasted Couscous, baby spinach and Berbere Sauce - $27
This was a favorite of many diners and those in our party. I did get a bite and the lamb was really good. It fell right off the bone. The only small thing he didn't like was he found the couscous a bit too moist for his taste. Still overall, he really liked this dish. Grade: B+

Pan-roasted and Maize-crusted Halibut with vegetables of the moment, tomato-butter sauce and crispy sweet potatoes - $30
This dish was wonderful. If it is on the menu on my next trip, I am ordering it. The breading was very, very light. Just a light crunch. The fish was moist and flaky. The sauce blended just well and the thin crispy strips of potato gave a nice texture to the dish. WONDERFUL! Grade: A

Wood Grilled Filet Mignon with Macaroni & Cheese and Red Wine Sauce - $34
One of these days, I'm going to order something else. However the last 3 trips, I've always had this dish for my entree and don't regret it. One of the best filets on property. So juicy, so tender, the white mac & cheese blend so well. The only downside is if it is oversauced (like the picture shows) the red wine reduction overpowers the meat and the delicate Mac & Cheese.  I had to liberated items to the side of the plate and the butter dish so they would not become encased in the sauced and then ruined.  Grade: A

Here is where I threw a temper tantrum.  The BEST dessert I have ever had at a resort was here.  Many moons ago.  Tanzanian Chocolate Purses with Van Der Hume Dipping Sauce.  I saw it was back on one of the menu’s that was sent into the All Ears website.  I was sooooo looking forward to it because it was like crack in a little bite sized nibble, only better.

They didn’t have it.  WTF!  AND to add insult to injury, Chef Annette was not there that night.  BUGGER!  I told the server I am marking them down just on principal because they get rid of the best dessert on property and keep these pedestrian ones, or arty things (like deconstructed banana split) or the just plain weird concoctions.

So I decide on this:

Apple Gateau - $8
It was basically a parfait.  And like Donkey says in Shrek, everyone loves a parfait.  But not when you want something else.  On it’s own, it was nice.   Slices of apple and cinnamon, layered with spiced whipped cream.  It was sweet, light and a very nice end to the meal.  It just wasn’t Tanzanian Chocolate Purses.   B

Expedition Everest Banana Split - $9
This has three kinds of ice cream. I believe chocolate, vanilla and coffee with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. As you can see, this is more like a "deconstructed" banana split. It looks very toney and there was no complaining so I can assume it was very good. Grade: A-

Fruit Napoleon with Sorbet - $9
I wasn't paying too much attention since I was still depressed from being denied my fav dessert. The sorbet was nice, i can't remember what kind it was. The fruit was good but the two slices of phyllo dough made this a bit difficult to eat. I remember there were kumquats in the fruit. A nice, light offering but not spectacular. (I know, I know, I'm bitter) Grade: B+

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