If this blog had a mission statement…that would be a little weird. (Why would a Walt Disney World fan blog need something so lofty? We’re not exactly running the Red Cross here.) But if we did, it would mostly involve
tricking convincing you to like the things we like (Seinfeld) and hate the things we hate (Dino-Rama).
Right after getting you to pledge allegiance to the Country Bears and partake in their jovial jamborees, one of our top goals would be convincing you to dine at Sanaa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as we’ve said that Sanaa is Walt Disney World’s Best Food You’re Not Eating and it currently ranks as the #6 restaurant on our List of Top 10 Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World. It’s also on a number of other lists and recommended in a number of resources, usually with the words “underrated” or “hidden gem” attached.
The latter distinction is quite literal, owing to its tucked away location at Walt Disney World. To that point, dining at Sanaa is a “two birds with one stone” sorta deal, as the natural byproduct of eating there is visiting Animal Kingdom Lodge. (Kidani Village, at least. A stroll over to Jambo House would also be “required” pursuant to the blog’s nonexistent credo.) It thus should come as no surprise that we’re about to hit you with some Sanaa propaganda (the good kind, we swear) as we share details about the restaurant’s newly-announced menu items…
Sanaa is a must-try for delicious dishes and adventurous eats that let you take a step into another culture. With offerings featuring African-inspired cuisine and techniques, this location gives you bold flavors meticulously crafted by its chefs.
The talented culinary team at Sanaa is now serving up additions to their already tasty menu with new dishes and updated items. Chef Sahib Bhatti has incorporated his roots from Tanzania on the Eastern Coast of Africa into these dishes filled with spices and ingredients found in the Indian subcontinent.
The additions come the same date as back in 2009, when the restaurant’s opening team began training for their culinary adventure with Sanaa. Chef Sahib and his talented team are proud to uphold this culinary legacy by sharing their updated menu with longtime fans as well as those who will experience Sanaa for the first time.
Now let’s take a look at what’s cooking in the kitchen over at Sanaa…
Let’s kick things off with an appetizer available for both lunch and dinner. First, we have the Lamb Kefta, a returning fan-favorite but now with a refreshing twist. Chef Sahib and his team have infused traditional North-African flavors with spices like cumin and cayenne pepper to this char-grilled ground lamb with Tunisian couscous salad and ginger pear chutney.
This was one of my favorite appetizers before at Sanaa, which is a solid value at $13. It’s pretty wild to me that the lamb appetizer is now significantly less expensive than Sanaa’s famous bread service.
For an entree at Sanaa, the Potjie-inspired Slow Cooked Dishes are made in a potjie, a traditional cast-iron pot that dates back to the Dutch during the spice trade.
The popular Butter Chicken is here to stay, with Chef introducing authentic pork selection and multiple plant-based additions to this “Harvest.”
The Pork Vindaloo has origins from Goa and features inspiration from Portuguese cuisine. This tender pork is cooked with paprika, garlic, tomato, vinegar, and a house-made spice blend. The Lentil Daal is typically found in the Indian subcontinent and is made with yellow lentils and cooked in fragrant spices.
This is Sarah’s go-to entree at Sanaa; in the past, she’s primarily done the butter chicken, seafood, and various Harvest options. I’m really curious about the Pork Vindaloo, just wish it were lamb!
Available for both lunch and dinner, the Zanzibari Vegetable Curry is inspired by the island of Zanzibar, also known as “Spice Island.” This plant-based dish features seasonal vegetables, fragrant rice, and a mouthwatering blend of cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Sukuma Wiki is enjoyed with rajma masala. The chef wanted to ensure this plant-based offering had a permanent place on the menu. The Rajma Masala is a dish from the Indian subcontinent that features red kidney beans and a delicious spice blend combined with onions, tomatoes, and garam masala and braised until tender. It is also known as maharage in Eastern Africa, which translates to red beans, and is typically served with greens.
For fans of fish, the Samaki Wa Kupaka, which means “coated fish,” is quite unique. Kingklip is commonly found along the Southern African coast. This moist, white fish joins the menu as a part of sustainable seafood initiatives and is absolutely delicious with a marinade of traditional Swahili cuisine, mango and turmeric, and topped with a tangy tamarind-infused coconut gravy.
The Samaki Wa Kupaka is what really catches my eye, as the mango marinade plus coconut gravy sound incredible. I’ll give the cauliflower to Sarah. I’m good on that.
Finally, there are a couple of dinner-exclusive offerings at Sanaa that are probably more suitable for less adventurous palates.
First, the fall-off-the-bone Pork Shank goes through a long braise process with flavors of cloves, nutmeg, and allspice before making it to your plate and is paired with black-eye peas, one of the Chef’s comfort foods, simmered in a chermoula herb blend.
Then there’s the Grilled New York Strip, which has been reimagined by the culinary team. This is Eastern Africa’s version of “meat and potatoes,” with the strip being perfectly paired with mukimo made with green peas, corn, and spinach, as well as harvest vegetables, herb emulsion, and fig sauce.
If I recall correctly, both the New York Strip Steak and the Sanaa Burger were added several years ago as part of a push to make Sanaa more approachable (and fill more tables). We’ve never had either of these items, as it feels almost criminal to dine at an ambitious restaurant like Sanaa and order something so ordinary.
However, I also realize that Sanaa is overly intimidating for many Walt Disney World guests, and not everyone is an adventurous eater. That’s totally understandable. I’m also a sucker for comfort foods and sometimes have a tough time stepping out of my comfort zone when faced with a choice of a familiar favorite or something new and uncommon.
Given that we often remark that eating this or that is “for the sake of research,” we should probably give those two items and the Pork Shank a try. At the end of the day, our goal is to get Walt Disney World fans to give Sanaa a try. If it takes a steak, burger, or shank to get guests in the door, so be it. Maybe while there, they’ll also order the Lamb Kefta or one of the Potjie dishes to share. Those regular menu items could be great “gateway foods” into the wonderful world of Sanaa!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
If you’ve dined at Sanaa, what did you think of it? Is Sanaa worth the time and effort of getting there? Where does Sanaa rank in terms of dining at Walt Disney World for you? Have any favorite dishes at Sanaa? For those of you who are eating here, is it deserving of its ‘best restaurant you’re not eating at’ status? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!