When Sanaa opened in 2009 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village, the cuisine was a new adventure for Disney chefs – a melding of Indian and African influences inspired by the resort’s African theme and the melding of the two cultures so closely connected on the ancient Spice Trade Route.
Now Chef Eddie Mendoza has added new dishes to the menu that he calls “African with an Indian touch.”
“We didn’t invent this fusion, it happened with the ancient spice trade,” says Chef Eddie. “Something magical happened once the Indian spices hit the shores of Africa.”
The restaurant is one of Disney’s top table-service restaurants, but many still consider it a well-kept secret (and a Cast Member favorite). For starters, the view is one of the best at Walt Disney World Resort, with zebras, giraffes and other animals grazing just outside the windows. Lunch is relaxed with lighter fare, and dinner is a bit more elegant and features a top-notch wine list that’s primarily South African.
“The service team is learning the stories behind our new dishes and also having fun learning their pronunciations”, says Chef Eddie. The popular curries remain on the lunch and dinner menus, as well as the butter chicken, but new favorites include a Traditional Sosatie cooked on skewers with lamb and apricots, and served with butternut squash, bacon, cashews and goat cheese. The Biryani, generally considered an Indian dish, gets African spice and seasonal vegetables “influenced from the Cape of Good Hope.”
How about “Boerewors and Slaphakskeentjies,” traditional South African sausages (boerewors) served with a Cape Malay Onion Salad (slaphakskeentjies). We promise it’s all delicious and described on the menu with a glossary that includes everything from Potjie to describe “slow-braised items” to Umngqusho, a “favorite dish of the Congo with samp (hominy) and beans flavored with butter” (said to be Nelson Mandela’s favorite dish).
You can be adventurous or stick with tried-and-true dishes such as grilled New York strip steak or seasonal sustainable fish – but we say this is the time to be adventurous, as Chef Eddie makes sure the dishes are just right (you can ask for more heat if you prefer). Lunch still includes the delectable roasted Peri Peri Chicken sandwich and features the new Kenya Coffee BBQ sandwich. We can make a meal of the Indian-style bread service and accompaniments: Coriander Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Tomato-Date Jam and Mango Chutney, for instance.
“Allergy-friendly menus and dietary needs are pretty simple in the Sanaa kitchen,” says Chef Eddie, “as much of the menu is plant based and easy to tweak for special diets.”
For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.
We had not made reservations for Thanksgiving dinner while visiting in 2009 and of course there was very limited availability. The concierge at our hotel suggested Sanaa as it had just opened and was still an “unknown”. We were a bit unsure but decided to take a chance on a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal and are we ever glad we did. The food, the scenery and the restaurant itself were amazing and the staff was terrific! We’ve been back and hope to go again soon.
Sanaa is one of our favorite places to eat because there is such a variety of vegan options. The bread service alone was amazing and completely cruelty free. Hopefully this restaurant continues with that tradition so that everyone can continue to enjoy it.
I love, love, LOVE Sanaa. The bread service and accompaniments are amazing. The Cast are excellent.
What I remember about our lunch here was the relaxing view of giraffes and other animals as we ate.
I went to Sanaa in its first week and it was love at first bite. I frequently tell folks that it a must-taste at Walt Disney World. I mourn the loss of the pork chop, but delight that they are frequently updating their menu. The Indian Bread Service is an absolute treat, and is a must-have every time I go there.
As someone who is a picky eater, I was terrified for my first meal at Sanaa. I honestly regret not trying it sooner. My server was wonderful with accommodating me but also ensuring I enjoyed an adventurous and eclectic dining experience. It really is a hidden gem, and you *can not* miss the bread service.