Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews, Part One
BY MIKE WARING – MAY 2009
This is Part One of a multi-part set of reviews from our most recent trip in May 2009.
On this page, Mike reviews Sanaa in the Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas.
Sanaa (pronounced “sah-NAH,”) is the newest (and only-est) restaurant in Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, a Disney Vacation Club resort. First, if we’re going to apply truth in advertising, the DVC villas at Kidani aren’t exactly at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but a good ten minutes walk away. That shouldn’t really represent a problem, but after a long day in the parks the trek might be a little more than one, especially one with small, cranky, hungry children, might feel up for. So unless you’re up for a walk or a bus ride, Sanaa is pretty much your only choice when staying at Kidani Village.
Ostensibly the cuisine of the Sanaa is described as Indian with African influences. We pooh-poohed that idea and then found we were wrong: the food was pretty much exactly as advertised. If you don’t like Indian food, better find another restaurant.
We started with a drink in the bar, because it’s a new bar that we felt we should investigate and, more importantly, I needed a cocktail or three — it was a long day a-travellin’ and me throat was weary and parched. It’s a very nice space, similar to the wine bar next to Jiko. The bar staff was enthusiastic, friendly, and probably a little bit bored. There was obviously good business making for drinks for diners, but Mary and I were the only people having a pre-dinner cocktail. Upholding the traditions of the Empire and all that, I started out and then stuck with Kingfisher, a wonderful Indian lager, while Mary drank some sort of fruit smoothie and alcohol concoction that she pronounced good, even though a true aficionado of the art of cocktail preparation would refuse to countenance the existence of such a travesty. Turns out her mango margarita was tasty though.
After a substantial wait for our reserved table (and remember, Kidani Village is not fully completed yet, so take this into account), we were seated and able to peruse the menu. We started with the appetizer sampler for two, which contained samosas, roasted cauliflower, and duck in red curry sauce. We liked all of them. We also got the Indian Style Bread Service, for which one can choose from a total of four types of bread typical of the sub-continent. With the bread comes a selection of chutneys, raitas and relishes, which frankly were the real reason we ordered it, because nice as naan is, it’s the relishes that make Indian food sing. We went with the old standbys such as coriander chutney, cucumber raita and lime pickle. I really don’t encourage those unfamiliar with Indian food to get the lime pickle, as it is intensely flavored and some have compared it to eating copper scouring pads coated with acid. Those people are perhaps lacking in refinement, as I find lime pickle to be a piquant and delightful accompaniment to any meal.
For our entrees I had the lamb tandoori, which was unusual in that it was a rack of lamb and it did not appear to have any tandoori seasoning actually on the lamb, but it was accompanied by a small sauce bowl containing something with tandoori-like spice flavors. I liked it a lot, but it wasn’t what I rationally think of as tandoori.
Mary had a combo meal with chicken red curry and beef short ribs. The chicken was not especially curry-like, though it was very tasty. Both items were seasoned with a nice blend of spices that reminded us of Moroccan dishes.
Other than a steak, there really isn’t too much on the menu for non-adventurous eaters to fall back upon. The rest of the entrees include a banana wrapped fish and a spice rubbed Cornish game hen, plus a vegetarian entrée. All are somewhat unusual and off the beaten path.
There’s also a salad sampler from which the diner can select three salads from offerings that include roasted beets; carrots, orange and mint; and chickpeas with cucumber and tomato. Sorry, macaroni salad is not one of the offerings, nor is anything else that might be found on the buffet line at a Golden Corral. I like the offerings but I suspect many people, especially people with children who think that Fruity Pebbles are a daring culinary choice, may find the salads, and indeed most of the other menu offerings, somewhat adventurous.
All in all, we ordered a lot of food for two people and we ended the meal somewhat feeling like we’d eaten an entire python instead of the other way around. I’m not really sure I would go out of my way for Sanaa, like I would for Jiko, for instance. It was pleasant and tasty and unusual, so if I were staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, even when not in the Villas, I would probably try it again.