Sometimes when you visit a resort, you have no desire to leave it. Venturing out to explore just seems like a task when all you really want to do is just kick back and relax. During our recent stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, we wanted to do just that ~ relax. So, we decided to make the most of our dining reservations with restaurants located right there at the resort. Since we were staying at Kidani Village, Sanaa just happened to be one of those places that made the reservation list.
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Sanaa is located on the bottom level of Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is accessible by stairs found in the main lobby or by elevator found a short ways away to the right. The restaurant has an East African-inspired menu and is designed to give Guests the feel of being in the middle of a traditional spice market. One of the two biggest draws to this location is the opportunity to dine with a unique and spectacular view. While feasting on your exotic cuisine (or the bread service – the other big draw), you can watch gazelles, giraffes, wildebeests and more roaming the savanna, which sits just on the other side of the glass.
We decided to book a lunch reservation here, taking the morning to enjoy the pool with plans to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in the afternoon. We arrived with ravenous appetites and very curious about what this place had to offer. I have heard tremendous reviews from friends and was very eager and interested in formulating our own opinions.
Meeting our server
Once we checked in, it didn’t take long to be seated and meet our server, Tracy. As is our standard, the first thing we review is our son’s food allergies and Tracy agreed to send the Chef over to discuss safe options for him. Once that was established, she then took opportunity to explain a little more about the menu with us and how it worked.
One of the main highlights of the Sanaa menu is the bread service ~ which comes very highly recommended! Tracy talked about the five Indian styled breads they serve and the nine different accompaniments from which Guests can choose. With an individual order, a Guest can choose from the five different breads and three of the nine accompaniments. Of course, if you have a table of curious appetites like ours did, there is an option that allows Guests to try all nine condiments for a little extra cost.
At that point, Tracy then explained the various entrees offered, but spent a great deal of time sharing details about the Potjie Inspired entrée. We were quite intrigued ~ to say the least. This allows Guests to choose one option from two different food group choices – Journey (protein) and Harvest (carb / starch). Once she explained how that all worked and answered all of our questions about the menu (we are always full of questions), she gave us a few minutes together to decide on our order, as well as provide the Chef an opportunity to make her way out.
NOTE: They do have kid-friendly fare, such as burgers and pizza and grilled chicken. Just in case your littles are picky-eaters.
Meeting Chef Amy
Before long, Chef Amy came to the table to introduce herself and to discuss food allergy options. She went through the menu and showed Logan and me what was safe and what likely wouldn’t be. She also took opportunity to discuss how some of the options are not made in their kitchen, so it would be difficult to accurately assess whether or not they could be considered safe. Logan had tons of questions regarding the bread service, including if and how it could be safe for him with his egg, peanut and tree nut allergies. Chef Amy went through the list of breads and accompaniments, as well as which ones he could and could not have. She also shared how she would have them delivered / served if we decided we were comfortable with him enjoying this.
He really wanted to try this and we felt comfortable enough with the information Chef Amy had presented. So, we agreed to let him have the traditional naan bread, served on a separate plate, and he would get first dibs of any sauces ~ all of which were deemed safe ~ before any of the rest of us had a chance to dive in.
With regard to the main entree, Logan was very interested in the Potjie Inspired entree. Chef Amy went through what elements he could have with that option and how she would have it served safely. Ultimately, our little guy was pretty happy because the selections he wanted were safe choices.
FOOD ALLERGY NOTE:
Please remember that I am in no way a medical professional. I am simply a mom doing what she can to provide her son with the best possible food allergy experiences and options. Each family or individual with food allergies has to make their own well informed decision as to whether or not something is safe enough for them to consume. I do personally always recommend having two epinephrine auto-injectors nearby and to speak to chefs directly.
Checking out the surroundings
Once our final order was placed, we took some time to study and discuss the interior of the restaurant. As noted above, it is meant to evoke the feel of being in a spice market, but you also get the feeling of being in the middle of a forest of “trees.” The pillars in the center of the room are designed to look just like trees, as well as some like tall towers of what appear to be African drums. The “tree canopies” span the width of the ceiling and “cover” you as you dine ~ almost like a big earthy hug.
African art work of both woven and wooden pieces is also on display throughout the dining room. It’s always fun to read up on these pieces.
With regard to seating, this is varied. There are both wooden tables in the center and along the window edges, as well as cozy booths that comfortably fit families our size and larger.
The Savanna` Look! We have company!
One of the BIGGEST draws for this restaurant is its exotic view while dining. Guests seated all over the restaurant (some better than others) can watch gazelles, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, crowned cranes and more roam the savanna that lies on just the other side of the glass. Though our family was quite a bit away from the windows, we were still able to see some of the animals roaming nearby. It truly is an amazing experience to have while dining there.
DID YOU KNOW?: For those who like to create unique memories, there is a special dining event offered, called Dine With an Animal Specialist. Guests who choose and reserve this option by phone will enjoy a four course meal while learning fun and important facts from a Disney Animal Specialist. I would LOVE to try this out in the future!
Bread Service arrives!
So, yes – we did order the bread service and we ordered it so that we could enjoy all nine of the condiments. The three kinds of bread we received were served on two different platters ~ one that was marked “allergy” and safe for Logan and the other not marked at all. The sauces were also delivered with care on a platter marked “allergy.” After their intensity was explained, Logan went ahead and took his portions first so that we all avoided cross contamination.
So what breads do they offer?
The five Indian style breads Guests can munch on included (we only had three of the five):
- Traditional Naan
- Garlic-Ginger Naan
- Spiced Naan
- Onion Kulcha
- Paneer Paratha
The traditional naan was what was served separately because that was the one Logan was able to eat. He took his portion first and then the rest of us split everything else.
And what about those NINE condiments???
We had to try all of them ~ ranging from extremely spicy to very benign. The list included:
- Red Chile Sambal (extremely spicy)
- Spicy Jalapeno-Lime Pickle
- Coriander Chutney,
- Garlic Pickle
- Red Pepper Hummus
- Tomato-Date Jam
- Tamarind Chutney
- Mango Chutney
- Cucumber Raita (very mild)
Hubby, the oldest and the youngest LOVE the spicy flavors, so they were all about trying that Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle and Red Chile Sambal. Both Aaryn and I tried the hottest offering, as well, but I know that I at least regretted it. It’s just not for me. Aaryn appeared to be okay with the Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle, but admits that it wasn’t his favorite. I was more of a Cucumber Raita or even a Red Pepper Hummus fan, but my favorite on the platter was the Coriander Chutney. The Garlic Pickle was very potent and the Tamarind Chutney had a tart flavor to it. The Mango Chutney was good and had chunks of delicious mango pieces in it. The oldest enjoyed that one, as well.
All in all, it was a GREAT way to start the meal – and a little filling, to be honest. I mean, just a little bit (as we all moved our belt buckles one notch)….
Lunch is Served
Despite being nearly satiated by the bread service, we were pretty eager to dive into our main course. We all chose to go with the Potjie Inspired entrée, which allowed each of us to choose something from the protein list and another from the carb list. Since there were four proteins listed, we each chose one. On the carb list, there were five options, so we left one out (Lentil Dhal ~ apparently, a lot of people do).
The Journey options included:
- Goan Seafood Curry
- Butter Chicken
- Braised Beef
- Spicy Durban Shrimp.
while the Harvest options included:
- Aloo Masala
- Chickpea Wit
- Lentil Dhal (the one we chose to leave out).
- Paneer Tikka
- Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables
I will say this – the Spicy Durban Shrimp ~ Oh, My Goodness! That had a kick to it that, yes, came with a warning, but I did not expect. Wowzers! Of course, my spice lovers thought it was great. However, I think the four of us all really liked the Butter Chicken the most. It just had that right flavor and texture to it. Of course, some of the boys really enjoyed the braised beef, too.
In fact, the Braised Beef is what Logan had with his allergy-safe meal, as well as the Chickpea Wit. He was so full on the bread service, though, that he wasn’t able to finish. He did enjoy it, though. Great choices!
Aside from the absolutely flavorful foods served here, Sanaa boasts one of the most unique dining views and entertainment around the Walt Disney World Resort. While enjoying the bread service, savoring the Tandoori chicken or sipping on an African Starr Mojito, Guests can peer out the window to enjoy exotic animals freely roaming around the savanna. It’s a sight to see when an ostrich struts by or two zebras start playing together.
We were sadly on the other side of the restaurant, so pictures of the savanna during lunch did not happen, but we had quite a few opportunities over the course of our trip to enjoy the animals (did you see my Facebook LIVE or the follow up??).
Satiated and Satisfied
So, it was another win-win for this Disney-loving family! We thoroughly enjoyed the highly recommended bread service (maybe a little too much), devoured our entrées with gusto and, most importantly, experienced no allergic reactions. In our book, that is a pixie-dusted success! Now to walk it all off at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
If you’re looking for something unique with a lot of flavor and spice, add Sanaa to your Disney Foodie Bucket List. Even if you are not staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the bread service alone is worth the trip over. Now, if you have been to Sanaa, I’d LOVE to hear what you had or what you enjoyed the most. Please feel free to add your comment below!!
BONUS INFO x2!!!!
- Sanaa does offer a no-reservation-required breakfast from 7 AM to 10 AM. I believe this was in response to the lack of quick service dining at the Kidani Village location (the resort quick service is located at Jambo House). While the boys and I roamed another park on our last morning, Hubby stayed behind to pack things up and decided to enjoy breakfast here. He was all about that Tomato Chutney!!
- Sanaa does provide discounts to DVC members, Annual Passholders and Tables in Wonderland holders (at least for lunch and dinner. We did not check for breakfast).
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