For the past two years, we’ve stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge for the opening weekend of Food & Wine. At some point during our stay (heck, even when we’re not staying there), we like to stop by Jiko’s bar for some evening drinks and food. One of Matt’s favorite items to order is their Grilled Wild Boar Tenderloin. It is served with Mealie Pap and Chakalaka, and finished with White Truffle Oil and Micro Cilantro.
Yes, the portion size is small; it is an appetizer, after all. But if you ask Matt, it is worth every penny. The boar is grilled delicately to a perfect rare and is incredibly tender. Mealie Pap is similar to grits or polenta, and can be prepared creamy or thick. Here, they are prepared smooth and creamy. Chakalaka is a spicy stew of tomatoes, onions, other vegetables, and often beans (although this preparation does not have beans). To compare it to something more familiar, it could almost be thought of as a warm salsa with an element of curry added to it. It really has a fantastic flavor. It’s Matt’s go-to appetizer, and I can’t imagine his disappointment if it were to be removed from the menu.
Being the flatbread fiend that I am (and knowing Matt would want to try it as well), I ordered the Buffalo and Pork Boerewors Sausage with Tomato Date Jam, Manchego, Napa Cabbage, and Watercress Flatbread. Boerewors is a South African sausage.
The sausage was a very rich color and was relatively dense. I enjoyed the spices used in making it, and would have enjoyed eating it on its own, or perhaps paired with some of the Manchego cheese alone. While there was a fair amount of green on this flatbread (and I did remove some of the Napa cabbage), there was still plenty of sausage underneath. There was enough for each slice to have a relatively large piece on it.
Yet again, we had a fantastic experience for a relaxing evening at Jiko. Some may be a little nervous about the food there since some of it is unfamiliar, but it’s definitely worth a try. Trying an appetizer at the bar will allow you to experience something new without breaking the bank on a full dinner if you fear you may not like it. I’ve been visiting Jiko since I moved here in 2007 and have never had a bad experience.
If you’ve never been to Jiko, what has kept you from experiencing it? If you’ve visited, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorite items?