Sanaa: the Best Disney Food You’re Not Eating

Like the Costanza household, my family accumulated old issues of TV Guide. I remember my jubilation one day while perusing the collectible when I saw Sports Night named as the Guide’s “Best Show You’re Not Watching.” Being a sports fan who came of age during the heyday of the Olbermann and Patrick-helmed “Big Show” and loving its early-era Sorkinisms, I was a huge fan of Sports Night. Surely, this would save my struggling favorite show!

Alas, I have no delusions about what this post will do for Sanaa, the best least-popular restaurant at Walt Disney World. While I doubt it’s in danger of “cancellation,” I do find its perpetually quarter-full seating area troubling. Plus, last week we covered one of the worst restaurants at Walt Disney World, so why not spread the good word about one of our favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World–one many of you probably have never even considered dining at?

We’ve reviewed Sanaa before, but it’s been a while and most of the photos stopped working in our old review, so I figured it might be best to just start from scratch here rather than just updating the old review. For those unfamiliar with it, Sanaa is a table service restaurant in Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Its menu is one of the more adventurous at Walt Disney World, with African and Indian inspiration but also enough crowd-pleasing options to make it approachable.

In terms of basics, Sanaa participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit table service restaurant, and also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for 20% off. Sanaa’s menu has a lot of range, meaning it can be bot cheap out of pocket or a good values for using Table Service Disney Dining Plan credits depending upon what you order.

Thematically, Sanaa is basically an extension of Kidani Village. The style and fact that you have views into the savanna might be remarkable elsewhere, but here it feels like a cozy environment that could just as easily be a larger version of one of the quiet nooks upstairs hidden off of the lobby…except with food.

If you’ve stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge or Kidani Village before, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, this thematic work should not be downplayed. The entire resort is exquisite, and Sanaa is the natural extension of this. Any excuse, particularly a delicious meal, to slow down and relish the design work Imagineering has done with Kidani Village should be taken.

Kidani Village is a great environment as a whole, with Sanaa in particular having an airy ambiance that is perfectly befitting of the menu. In other words, the Sanaa experience is off to a great start the moment you enter the hotel, and by extension, the restaurant. With that said, let’s turn to the menu…

The Indian Bread Service is a must-order, and is one of the highlights of a meal at Sanaa. Going big with the larger version with all nine accompaniments is a no-brainer.

This gives you a chance to sample all of the different sauces, jams, and hummus to see which you favor. It makes for a great “conversation piece” appetizer, and is a window into the flavors and spices used in Indian cuisine. Think of this as edu-eatutainment…or something like that. (But seriously, order this.)

For another starter, we ordered the Lamb Kefta Skewers with Tunisian Couscous Salad and Peppadew-Goat Cheese.

These were likewise fantastic. The lamb was perfectly seasoned and with a subtle gaminess. I love lamb like this, but your mileage may vary.

For entrees, we had the Tandoori Chicken and Potjie. The Tandoori Chicken is served open-faced on naan bread with roasted chicken, rocket, pickled onion, tomato, and sambal mayonnaise.

The chicken here was impossibly tender, the naan was pillowy-soft, the vegetables were fresh, and the mayo had a mild twist that was addictively good. I’d consider this a fairly approachable and excellent option for those who don’t want anything too adventurous. It’s also a solid value out of pocket.

Potjie translates to “small pot food” and is one of the best options on Sanaa’s menu. From the menu: “Choose one from the Journey – Goan Seafood Curry, Butter Chicken, Braised Beef, or Spicy Durban Shrimp. Choose one from the Harvest – Aloo Masala, Chickpea Wit, Lentil Dhal, Paneer Tikka, or Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables served with scented Basmati Rice.”

We’ve done this a few different ways in the past. For this meal, Sarah went with the Butter Chicken and Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables. You really can’t go with any of these choices–the chicken and beef are always tender and the seafood options are likewise delicious.
This is arguably one of the best lunch entrees at Walt Disney World, and a perfect pairing with the bread service if you want a fully customizable meal. Even though it’s more expensive, I’d still consider the Potjie a good value when considering the ambitious nature of the dishes (we routinely pay around this much for good curry in real world restaurants).

We were joined for the meal by our friend Nick, who you may recall from some of our earlier trip reports. For those of you newer readers who only hate-read the blog, you can blame him for its existence. He was one of my college roommates who invited us down during his College Program. That rekindled our love for Walt Disney World, and led to this whole mess.

Anyway, Nick ordered the Sustainable Fish. I believe this was grouper, but I’m not totally sure. In any case, he enjoyed it. The fish was nicely plated and the portion seemed fair.

We were pretty stuffed by dessert time, but felt compelled to order the Kheer and Spice Trade Candy Bar. The former was fine taste-wise, but way too small.

The latter was one of the most decadent and inventive candy bars we’ve ever tried, but also the most expensive. Presentation aside, it’s actually much more than a candy bar, and is the kind of dessert that’s shareable despite its size because it’s fairly rich. The pistachio crumb offered nice texture, too.

We’d order the Spice Trade Candy Bar again if we were using Disney Dining Plan credits, but if paying out of pocket, we’d be inclined to skip dessert. The Mara does have Zebra Domes in its cooler, after all…

If you’re looking for ‘safer’ options, Sanaa has you covered there with the Kenya Coffee BBQ Sandwich. Along with the Sanaa Burger, it’s one of the approachable, crowd-pleasing options on the lunch menu. (For dinner, there’s New York Strip Steak, Lamb Shank, and Duck.)

Ultimately, Sanaa is a restaurant we recommend wholeheartedly to all Walt Disney World fans. The trek out to Animal Kingdom Lodge is worth the effort to see the resort’s beautiful design and unique style, and the lunch menu presents one of the best value propositions at Walt Disney World. It’s easy to make excuses not to visit or revisit Sanaa–and we’re definitely guilty of this–but with each meal, we’re reminded why this is restaurant that belongs in our regular rotation.

Want more dining recommendations? Check out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. For info on whether the DDP is right for you, read our Ultimate Guide to the Disney Dining Plan. For comprehensive vacation advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts…

What do you think of Sanaa? For those of you who are eating here, is it deserving of its ‘best restaurant you’re not eating at’ status? Where does it rank in terms of dining at Walt Disney World for you? Have any favorite dishes at Sanaa? 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!

84 Responses to “Sanaa: the Best Disney Food You’re Not Eating”
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