Jambo! Morgan here, from Neverland Navigation Co. and Neverland Navigation Radio podcast! Here today to talk to you about one of Disney World's most famous non-park restaurants, Sanaa! This restaurant is a FAVORITE of locals and worth checking out.
Check out our vlog below to see our VIDEO review of Sanaa!
Sanaa is located in the gorgeous Animal Kingdom Lodge resort. Kidani Village to be exact. There are two sections of Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House, and Kidani Village. Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my favorite WDW hotels and it is usually the least expensive Deluxe Disney hotel. (Often by a lot!) This is surprising because nearly half the rooms have views of the savannah and you can see animals walking around from your hotel window! How cool is that? The issue with the hotel and its amazing restaurants is the location. It is next to Animal Kingdom, and unfortunately, there is no convenient and fun transportation (ex: a Monorail, a Skyliner, or a boat) to or from this hotel or the restaurants inside of it. Jake and I often joke about how Animal Kingdom is in its own world, sitting about a 15-minute drive away from the other 3 Disney theme parks. Lonely and overlooked. 😔 Well not really, on average (as of last year) 38 thousand of people visit Animal Kingdom daily. But back to getting there. If you are driving it is fine, but if you are flying to WDW and relying on Disney's transportation systems, you would have to be okay with taking the bus everywhere you go if you are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you happen to be staying at a different WDW resort and you aren't driving but want to eat at Sanaa, you would have to take a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge from a park or pay for a rideshare. So it can be a bit inconvenient, depending on your circumstance.
The restaurant's location within Animal Kingdom Lodge is wonderful. There is a parking garage you can park in if you are dining here, which is convenient. The restaurant has huge arched windows covering half the restaurant so you can see the animals while you dine. The decor goes along with the rest of Animal Kingdom Lodge and has African decor (fun hidden Mickeys) and medium-dark woods throughout. Here is a weird thing to mention, but I am going to go there, the bathrooms here are also beautiful and well-maintained. I know, I know. It's a weird thing to mention, but it's a thing I notice so there it is.
Apart from the location, everything was pretty great! I’ll take you item by item through what we ordered and how it was and show you some pictures of the food and the restaurant.
We started with a Press Pot of coffee. They serve Joffrey's Kenyan Coffee here and I've heard others give Joffrey's a hard time, but we are avid coffee drinkers and we thought this pot of coffee was lovely. One Press Pot gives you a little over 3 cups of coffee. I was impressed by the coffee and thought this was well worth the $9 it cost, especially if you are splitting it as we did.
The first and most important thing that we ordered was the Indian-Style Bread Service. They are FAMOUS for their bread service. It is a must-get and it has a bit of a cult following. It comes with five different kinds of Naan Breads and 9 Dips. It is a flavorful and fun experience. The idea is to tear pieces of the Naan and try it with all 9 different African sauces. Some you'll adore, some you probably won't love, but you will definitely have fun. The sauces range from spicy to sweet with some in the middle. I particularly loved the roasted red pepper hummus and the mango chutney, but some of the more unusual flavors were good as well. We loved that it wasn't just delicious, it was a conversation starter and a group experience.
We also got the Samosas appetizer. They are Potato and Pea Samosas with Tamarind and Mango Chutney. The pastry was flaky and the sweetness from the mango chutney complemented the warm spices they used for the creamy filling. This was another win for us.
For one of our entrees, we got the "Potjie Inspired", where you choose a "Journey" (meat) and a "Harvest" (plant-based side) We chose "Butter Chicken" for the "Journey" and "Chickpea Wat" for the "Harvest". It was also served with a scoop of scented Basmati Rice. Butter Chicken is a recipe I already know and love and Sanaa definitely hit this one out of the park. It was prepared perfectly. This is also a pretty safe choice if this is your first experience with Indian food. The sauce is creamy and has a perfect blend of Indian spices but isn't spicy. The "Chickpea Wat" was also quite good. We learned from the Glossary provided on the menu that a "Wat" (you would not believe how much my auto-correct hates this word. 😂 It wants to correct it to "was") is a stew. But it really seemed like roasted chickpeas in a thin Indian spiced sauce. This dish was great and I would recommend it.
Another entree that we tried was the Tandoori Chicken. This is a dish where chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices and then roasted in a clay 'Tandoor' oven. It was served on Naan Bead with pickled onion, tomato, and Sambal Mayo. We debated a bit about how best to eat it but landed on using a knife and fork and making sure to get a little of everything in every bite. You could also cut it into wedges and eat it like a (messy) pizza. We all enjoyed this dish as well. It packed a bunch of those South Asian spices without being spicy or overwhelming,
The last entree we ordered was what we would consider a safe bet if you have a picky eater with you. It was the Sanaa Burger. The burger was cooked to order and topped with spiced mustard and Peppadew-Goat Cheese. If you have a SUPER picky eater you could leave those toppings off, but I would recommend leaving them. The tangy goat cheese added interest to the dish. I loved that the Goat Cheese flavor really stood out. This burger was NOT a quick-serve burger with stuff added to make it seem interesting when it is really just a cheap burger like you would find in a value resort quick-serve (I'm looking at you terrible $20 burger at all-star sports!) This one was leaps and bounds better than any burger that I have at a WDW quick serve. It was juicy and seasoned and fresh. Seriously, it was one of the best burgers I have ever had! It was served with Indian spice seasoned potato chips that looked like Ruffles.
We also tried a couple of desserts! The first was a Serradura, a butterscotch pudding served in a glass with almond streusel, pineapple pieces, mango pieces, and Breton Shortbread. The Shortbread was like a biscotti, I was not a fan. Maybe it would be nice dunked in coffee, but stuck into a pudding it didn't work for me. The pudding itself did not taste like Butterscotch in the slightest. So this was definitely the worst part of this meal. What a bummer, because I LOVE butterscotch.
The second dessert we tried was their seasonal dessert (circa 10/2022) and the waitress recommended it and described it as a candy bar. It was also just meh. It had layers like a candy bar but it wasn't exceptional. I guess when I come back to Sanaa I will skip dessert or try one of the other two options.
Value-wise, this was a good deal for a specialty WDW restaurant. When we went (10/22) the Bread Service was $21, the Sanaa Burger was $20, the Tandoori Chicken was $21 and the Potjie Inspired was $30. The worst "value" of the things we ordered were the desserts. Again, I cannot recommend desserts here at this time. They came in at $9 each, we didn't love them and they were small. I mean, I wouldn't really call them a sharable size. Especially the Butterscotch pudding. However, the desserts were the only issue. This restaurant is an experience in addition to a meal, so that adds to the value.
All-in-all this restaurant was a WINNER! I will 100% be returning and I would recommend it to anyone local, staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, or has a non-park day built into their WDW vacation (which you should!) The food was 99% amazing and different from a lot of the regular stuff you can get at a theme park. Definitely give it a try if you are able.
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Thanks for your support! See ya real soon!
Below is a picture of our dining companion. 😂 This guy was between 10-30 feet from us for most of our meal.