Five friends and I had the opportunity to try Disney’s newest restaurant, Sanaa, on its opening night. Located in the Kidani Village DVC Villas addition to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, this eatery offers African dishes which have been heavily influenced Indian flavors. It was explained to us that Indian cuisine is served regularly in this area of the world because of its proximity to the eastern coast of Africa after those flavors were brought to there by spice traders. The design of the space is meant to feel cozy and intimate. It is decorated with hanging lanterns, African artwork, and a tree spreading over the ceiling. If that isn’t cool enough for you there are huge windows overlooking Kidani Village’s savannah.
So now that you have some background on the restaurant let’s get to the good stuff; was it any good? I have to say it was a fantastic meal especially for the very reasonable price. With so many guests complaining of the simplification of menus around Disney property due to the popularity of the dining plan, Sanaa was a breath of fresh air. You aren’t going to find these dishes anywhere else on property and they will keep me coming back for more. As for the service, our server was polite and prompt, but it was very difficult to hear what he was saying. It was nice not to be rushed to allow another party to fill our table. Not only did we get to share a great meal, but we were allowed to enjoy great company. Everyone at our table seemed to agree that it was a great experience.
My meal started out with tasty Malawi Mango Margarita (for research purposes, of course). Along with several specialty cocktails, Sanaa also has a selection of African and Indian beers. Likewise, they boast a vast wine selection from around the world.
Our table of six then shared several of the menu’s lovely appetizer offerings. Everyone’s favorite starter seemed to the bread service. Diners pick three of four breads and a selection of three accompaniments such as different chutneys and hummus. Since we had so many people we ordered two allowing us to try almost all of the options and all of them seemed to be hits.
For my main course I chose to have the selection of curries. There are four different varieties, and diners pick two of them. All of the entrees are served with either Basmati rice or a five grain pilaf. I went for the Chicken with Red Curry Sauce and the Shrimp with Green Curry Sauce with Basmati rice. They were both delicious, but I think I liked the shrimp a bit better. I am certainly not the biggest “foodie,” but I am a fish snob and I thought these shrimp were pretty close to perfect. I decided to have the dishes as they are normally served and the heat level was mild with just the right bit of kick for me. Our server told us that any dish could be kicked up to individual tastes. Some of my friends took advantage of this special request and were quite pleased with their selections.
We were all stuffed, but managed to make room for dessert. We got one of each of the dessert to taste and pass (not the most sanitary, but none of us came down with swine flu)! I have to admit as much as I loved this dinner, dessert was my least favorite course. This part of the meal just seemed to fall flat after such wonderful appetizers and entrees. The most well received sweet treat was definitely the Chai Cream and the least favorite was the Carrot Halvah. I thought the other desserts were ok, but nothing to write home about.
If you are not the most adventurous eater I encourage you to give it a try anyway. I love Indian food and I also really enjoy Boma in the main building of the Animal Kingdom Lodge so I wasn’t concerned. However, one of my fellow dinners had never dared to try Indian, so she was nervous. With guidance from friends and our server she was able to select an entrée she really liked. And if you still aren’t convinced you want to try a curry, there are some options for the less adventurous eaters as well.
Another great thing about this restaurant is that it’s off the beaten path. My hunch is many average Disney guests won’t even know its there. I bet it will be a great go to place to get an ADR at the last minute for lunch or dinner. If nothing else you’ll be able to get away from the bustle of the parks, enjoy a quiet and tasty meal, while looking out over the savannah. With all of these things in mind, I persuade readers to give Disney’s latest culinary offering a try on your next trip to WDW.
Next time I’ll discuss my recent stay at the Wilderness Lodge…