*This dining experience took place in April 2014 and includes my gluten free & dairy free review as well as two gluten free reviews.
Ah, Sanaa. Many of you know this is one of my favorite restaurants on property. I adore the Indian and African inspired flavors, the decor, and well…just about everything that this restaurant has to offer. I recommend this restaurant a lot to Disney guests looking for a great special diets meal that is just a little different than burgers and fries. It’s so friendly for many special dietary needs – gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian and more. Plus, they have gluten free & dairy free menus which is pretty awesome!
On this particular visit, I was joined by my friends Alexis from Gluten Free in Orlando and Jennifer Harris from Gluten Free Go-to Guide. We were all really hungry after a busy day at Blogger U for the Gluten-Free Living Conference in Orlando. So, this was definitely a much needed meal.
We were greeted by Chef Carroll who really took the time to go over the special diets offerings, as well as how the restaurant prepares special diets dinners. And then something funny happened. She asked if I was Sarah and explained that she had actually been one of the Disney’s Catered Events teams that worked on the Special Diets Dessert Parties that I host at Disney. How cool is that? She said she worked on the menu development but didn’t get a chance to be at the tastings or the event. So, it was really neat to meet her in person. She’s now moved on from catering to work in Sanaa, and I’m looking forward to seeing a familiar face the next time I go in to dine.
The group decided to order drinks – white & red sangrias for both Alexis and Jennifer (which looked fabulous) and an African Starr Mint Mojito for me. Yes, I’m totally addicted to these. One thing I will say is that the bartender didn’t do quite as good of a job on my drink. It wasn’t as balanced as it could have been and almost seemed like it was missing something.
For our appetizers, we all chose different items. Alexis got the Butternut Squash Soup which looked good, but very dairy filled. Jennifer got the salad sampler which has one of my favorite lunchtime salads – the chickpea and cucumber salad. I usually get it with the turkey sandwich and it’s delicious. For my appetizer, I restrained myself from the bread service (which I normally get) and ordered the Chana Tikki – chickpea cakes. I have been eyeing them for a while, and decided to switch it up.
Taste-wise, these were very good. I really enjoyed the taste of the cake – though I will say the texture was a little “mushy.” I think they could have been a wee bit more textured or crispier and that would have worked better. The accompaniments were spot on. I never met a chutney or coriander sauce I didn’t like and both were fabulous.
For entrees, I was torn. I really love the sustainable fish entree, but I also loved the curry/gravy dishes. I still really really miss the green curry shrimp because it was the perfect balance with Durban chicken. Chef Trish recreated it for me the last time I had dinner there, but it’s not the same without it on the menu. I opted for the Durban chicken and spicy Goan Fish Curry. Now, this seemed like it may not be a good decision on my part – so much spiciness, but I decided to be a gambling lady that night. Both Jennifer and Alexis ordered the lamb dish and both raved about it.
The Durban chicken was spicy but flavorful as it always is. I really do love this dish. There’s a lot of complexity to it, and the flavors (though spicy) meld really well together. The Goan Fish was actually not at all spicy like it had been the time before. The last time it was practically nuclear and my mouth was on fire for what seems like forever. But, this time it was pleasantly spiced and seasoned and the mahi mahi was excellent in it. If it stays like this, I’ll readily order it again.
Alexis also ordered dessert, while the rest of us were too stuffed to attempt it. You can read Alexis’s full review of Sanaa from that visit on her website Gluten Free in Orlando.
Overall, it was a fantastic meal with great company and ambiance. I love sharing new Disney restaurants with friends, and it was great to hear what Jennifer thought of it as well.
I’d give this experience a solid 8 out of 10.
Have you been to Sanaa recently? What are your favorite dishes there?