I recently got my first look at and taste of the newest Disney World restaurant, Sanaa, whose tagline is “The Art of African Cooking With Indian Flavors.” Located in the Kidani Village section of the Animal Kingdom Lodge Disney Vacation Club Villas–just opened in May 2009–the restaurant offers Disney diners another “almost authentic” ethnic taste (I say “almost,” only because they consistently have to water down any would-be exotic tastes for visitors like me–you know, the ones whose palates never quite hit puberty and are still stuck somewhere between chicken fingers and pizza rolls.).
The restaurant is downstairs from the lobby in a low-ceilinged, rustic room bejeweled with low-hanging lanterns and beaded necklaces (“Kidani” is swahili for necklace, after all). It’s meant to give you the feeling that you’re outside–the ceiling is made of stylized tree branches and leaves, the columns of the restaurant are the tree trunks, and guests are seated among rock outcroppings that continue through the walls to the actual outside area. The windows are floor-to-ceiling–with a magnificent view of the giraffe, ostriches, zebra, and other animals housed on the resort’s Sunset Savanna–which gives a “patio” feel to the restaurant. Finally, the tables and chairs are bulky and free-form, making guests feel as if they’ve just arrived at a rustic outpost lodge after a long Safari.
Sanaa prepares and serves food influenced by the Indian and African spice tradeline countries. Highlights from the menu are:
–An Indian bread service, which includes choices of Naan, Roti, Paratha, and Paneer (cheese) Paratha along with choices of several different dipping sauces, including raitas and chutneys flavored with fruits and veggies
–Tandoori (tandoor-oven cooked) meats
–Slow-cooked dishes with gravy
–Specialty items like a daily dish of sustainable fish and Dum Biryani
The wine list is also available for lunch and dinner. Sanaa has several wine flights on the menu; I ordered the “Sanaa” wine flight, including Gunderloch Diva Spatlese Riesling from Germany, Fess Parker Riesling from California, and Chateau de Montfort Chenin Blanc from France.
For my entree, I ordered the slow-cooked dishes. Guests get a choice of two dishes, including chicken with red curry sauce, shrimp with green curry sauce, paneer cheese and spinach, and beef short ribs, served with basmati rice or five-grain pilaf. I chose the paneer cheese and spinach and the beef short ribs. Both were lovely, though I very much enjoyed the beef. Not sure I could have gotten to the bottom of the bowl of cheese and spinach even if I’d been starving–it was pretty rich.
I’m not at all a food critic, but I found Sanaa to be a decent restaurant that I would plan to visit every couple of years or so. I predict that, because of its distance from the rest of Disney World, its cloistered location even within Animal Kingdom Lodge, and its good, but not outstanding, cuisine, it will probably remain a third choice (after Jiko and Boma) to folks heading to Animal Kingdom Lodge for a dining experience. Though its prime Savanna-view offers it a leg up on the other two table-service restaurants at the Lodge–perhaps that alone will drive the non-DVC member traffic over to Kidani.
See this page for more information and menu links for Sanaa.