I love the joy of a new pleasant discovery. Okay, more than pleasant…let’s say, fantastic.
Have you ever consider Walt Disney World to be a vegan destination? Probably, not. Especially if you read the menus of the most popular restaurants at this famous family vacation spot. However, the amazing thing about Walt Disney World is their commitment to customer service. My Mom and I both have a number of food allergies, which are always a concern when eating away from home. She took me to Walt Disney World for the first time when I was thirteen and we were both blown away by how the chefs would cater to our culinary requests-with enthusiasm rather than annoyance.
Walt Disney World has since become my Mom’s destination of choice (I still prefer to venture more broadly to discover new places around the world with fewer gift shops). Before each trip my Mom makes a few restaurant reservations at spots she loves or places she can’t wait to try. This trip was no different.
On our second night in Orlando, we had a reservation at ‘Ohanas, a restaurant at the Polynesian resort. This may seem a very strange choice for a table full of vegan diners (given it has an all you can eat meat menu). When we walked in you could not ignore the waiters wandering around with huge skewers of meat and seafood. But we knew that our favourite chef had taken over the helm. T.J. used to serve up amazing meals for us at Animal Kingdom Lodge…so we followed him. It turns out, the effort to find T.J. and ignore the meat dancing around the room (in the arms of the service staff) was completely worth it.
Our meal started with a refreshing salad, scattered with fresh fruit and bright lime vinaigrette.
We also had garlic broccoli but I didn’t get a picture before it was devoured. My family really likes broccoli. A lot.
Next the chef presented us with two hummus dips and freshly fried pita chips.
T.J. delivered an amazing platter of avocado summer rolls to the table. The slivers of pineapple were a delightful surprise and sweet contrast to the spicy ginger mango sauce.
And then…the tower of vegan deliciousness arrived. At the bottom is sweet glazed tofu, topped with sauteed mushrooms and peppers. The whole dish is surrounded by tempura broccoli and topped with crisp rice noodles. My brother took most of this home and enjoyed it for a couple of days. It was a huge platter of incredible food.
Although the dinner was delicious and very filling, my favourite aspect was the impact on other diners. As we finished our meal we were approached by numerous diners who were intrigued by the exciting dishes they had seen arrive at our table. We happily reported that we were vegan and that the chef had prepared a special meal just for us. I was happy that they had found the vegan dishes so enticing that they just had to stop us and make sure they found how to get that kind of food to arrive at their tables.
I don’t want this to be an advertisement for Disney-they certainly have a strong enough marketing team without my help. But I think it is important to be grateful to the chefs who embrace the opportunity to make amazing vegan food that will impress the masses. If you ever find yourself planning a trip to Walt Disney World, rest assured that you can eat very, very well there.
Stay tuned for one more Orlando review tomorrow.