As anyone who is Gluten free will quickly lament, dining at an Asian restaurant can have its challenges. Soy sauce is laden with gluten, and getting around this key ingredient can be akin to dining at a French restaurant and asking them to hold the butter. But Disney always rises to a challenge.
For our latest trip to the World, we decided to try out a few new places – new to us, anyway. I had shied away from certain restaurants over the last few years for the above reason, but wanted to put my faith in the Disney chefs this time around. After a morning spent in Animal Kingdom running from one ride to the next – with breaks only for lion-spotting on a Kilimanjaro Safari – we hungrily approached our lunch spot at Asia’s Yak and Yeti. I tested the chefs, as well as my faith, and both were proved worthy.
The restaurant’s decor is very authentic, as several of the hosts pointed out during our short wait. We were welcomed to have a look around either before or after our lunch, in order to check out the artifacts that had been collected in the making of this dining locale. They claimed that wherever possible, owners had used antique furniture and relics. It really is one of the best themed restaurants in Disney World, but doesn’t get appreciated in the rush to get in and out quickly.
Yak and Yeti is one of the few park restaurants not technically Disney-owned, although I was unaware of this crucial detail until we had arrived at the restaurant and been seated. There on the table sat an unassuming advertisement that quietly announced the restaurant’s Landry’s ownership. Having had a not-so-favorable experience with special dining where outside ownership was concerned (namely at Marrakesh in Epcot’s Morocco), it was with trepidation that I opened my menu.
I was put at ease when our waiter arrived, having already been made aware of my restrictive palate. He informed me that Yak and Yeti caters to this request on a daily basis, and that we would both be happy with their most popular appetizer, which could be modified to be gluten-free. This order was taken and a chef was summoned to discuss entree options.
We shared an order of the Gluten Free Lettuce Cups, which were so delicious they could have been made into a meal on their own. Minced chicken, chopped vegetables, and a gluten free soy mixture made these very reminiscent of the PF Chang’s/Pei Wei version. My husband informed me that he would never have known the dish was allergy-friendly.
After the chef came to give me my many options, we placed our entree order. Obviously feeling nostalgic after those Lettuce Cups, my husband ordered the Crispy Honey Chicken. We typically do not eat at Asian restaurants (much to his dismay), and this was a treat he couldn’t pass up. With the exception of a few grains of rice, he cleaned his plate – stopping just short of making it sparkle.
I chose to go with something a bit different, based on the chef’s recommendation and my own need for something other than the standard. The Malasian Seafood Curry was comprised of Mahi, scallops, clams, mussels, shrimp, zucchini, and tomatoes, all in a coconut red curry broth. While it traditionally came served atop a bed of jasmine rice, I chose to forgo that large amount of carbs and simply opted for the soup. To put it simply, it was amazing. The curry was rich, but not overly “coconuty”. The seafood was fresh, the vegetables cooked just right – had I eaten the rice I would have had to be rolled out, because I ate the huge bowl in its entirety.
After all this, there was no question about dessert. Aside from the fact that both of us were in a happy food coma, we knew that purchases of Mickey bars would be in our not-too-distant future. I could easily have eaten at Yak and Yeti more than once on this particular trip alone – it’s a given that we’ll dine here during our next Asian encounter at Animal Kingdom.