Boma, Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando

I normally make an effort to avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. There aren’t many times and places where I have felt the food was any good. There’s something about the “trough” mentality that I find inherently unappealing. I kept hearing that Boma over at the Animal Kingdom Lodge was an exception, so tonight we headed over to see for ourselves.

Like Jiko (where we ate last year), Boma has a somewhat African theme to the decor and the food. The tables are all situated in one large room, but at least they’re reasonably large and spaced so that you don’t automatically eavesdrop on your neighbors. The food is displayed from a large buffet with African market-style decor and is arranged in stations that are constantly refreshed by the helpful kitchen staff. Every item has a sign identifying the dish’s name, but the signs don’t go into any detail. I asked a chef about what fufu is (he described it as a sweet potato dish with cinnamon and other spices) and I was pleased with his rapid and detailed response.

There are some kid-friendly foods on the display, corralled in one serving “pod” so the rest of us don’t wonder if we inadvertently wandered into a Golden Corral or something. My son ate his fill of strawberries, french fries and chicken wings. I rather liked the gentle coconut rice my husband put on his plate, but he barely touched the stuff.

Some of the best dishes on the menu include:
Bobotie, which was so good my husband had to have seconds.
I really liked the mildly spiced rotisserie chicken
A sweet and fragrant chicken curry stew
The fufu kicked butt. Really great stuff.
The chicken salad with chile and cilantro was delicate and tasty
The thickly glazed tamarind ribs, spicy-sour-sweet

Forget about:
The spice-rubbed prime rib, which was not a great cut of meat before it was overcooked. It’s carved to order, but still. No thanks.
The nut-crusted salmon tasted like it had been sitting on those banana leaves for way too long
Potatoes with Afritude had no attitude at all, African or otherwise
The falafel were a bit dry

This place is a vegetarian’s paradise. There’s plenty of meatless dishes to sample: curried tofu and green beans, three types of hummus, cold and hot grain dishes, etc. There are also plenty of pieces of sliced fruit (nothing exotic, just your usual grapes, watermelon, pineapple etc) and a small salad bar for those trying to eat low on the food chain.

I was looking forward to the desserts since there were several unusual selections, but I found most of them to be merely acceptable. Cherry crumble had lost any crispness, a banana bread pudding was flaccid, the cassava cake and milk cake were both more sweet than flavorful. The “zebra dome” was cute but cloying with its white chocolate shell. An upside-down pineapple cheesecake needed more fruit and less cheese. I did like the “cocomisu,” a coconut-spiked version of tiramisu. My husband ended up eating the chocolate chip cookie we got for our son and he said it was a good example of its type. (We ate tastes of each of these desserts, not full servings. All in the interests of reporting as thoroughly as the global and demanding LoE readership had come to anticipate from us, you know.)

As we left, my husband remarked that he’d like to return to Boma each time we visit–but probably only for one meal. I’d agree with that assessment. It is a bit noisy and there’s no denying the buffet nature of the restaurant–but this is one of the better buffets you’re likely to encounter.

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