The opening of Pandora: World of Avatar has been a game changer. Both the quality of the attractions and the overall realisation of the theme is spectacular. DIsney invested time, expertise and money, lots of money, to get Pandora right. Satu’li Canteen, a quick service restaurant, and Pongu Pongu, a counter service kiosk, was the chance to deliver an elevated food experience.
Satu’li Canteen Is a quick service restaurant. Disney made the right choice when they decided to go quick over table service here. The quick service model has a wider appeal and can handle higher volumes of diners. This is a tried and tested Disney formula. But what’s clever about Satu’li Canteen is rather than deliver theme park food with a Na’vi twist they’ve worked hard to create a unique experience with quality food at the forefront.
From the moment you arrive Satu’li Canteen is impressive. The theme is a former RDA (Resources Development Administration) mess hall transformed into a calm space showcasing Na’vi art and cultural items. The building nestles discreetly within the Valley of Mo’ara, despite its size. Inside it’s cleverly divided using sweeping low walls to create smaller, calmer spaces. Don’t miss the huge open kitchens charcoal grills at the entrance, an early insight into the items the menu might contain.
Once inside Satu’li diners are directed to the far left of the dining space where the lines for orders are located. The queuing space is huge with lots of tills but queues do build up quickly. In line with most Disney eateries choosing a non peak time for your visit is recommended. The separation of the queuing space to the seating area does make the dining area more pleasant. But if you’ve got a big family and lots of trays of food to carry bear in mind it’s a longer walk to find a table.
The stand out dishes here, despite all the hype of the cheeseburger bao buns (more of these later) are the ‘bowls’. Diners can choose either beef, chicken, fish or tofu as the ‘protein’ and then add their choice of base and sauce. I chose beef, which by the way is tender and perfectly cooked. How they achieve such a high and consistent standard given the huge number of portions they must deliver per day, is quite something. Alongside my protein option I chose red and white sweet potato hash and creamy herb dressing as the sauce. This dish totally exceeded my expectations. It was delicious and great value, $12.99, and is also available on the Disney Dining Plan. All the bowls are finished with vegetable slaw and boba balls.
We didn’t try the Fish or Chilli Spiced Crispy Tofu but the Chopped Wood-Grill Chicken was almost as good as the beef. There’s also an option, in the evenings for dinner, of ordering a sample platter which features the four proteins, bases and sauces family style. This is a great option for a group or family, although at $74.99 , even including a fountain drink, it’s a more expensive option.
The other stand out dish is the steamed pod bao buns with either vegetable curry or cheeseburger fillings. The pods are soft and delicious, different enough but not so much they would put off less adventurous diners. I would have liked a bit more filling in the pods but that’s a bit nit picky as they were actually delicious. Served with vegetable crisps and slaw they were also really good but we all agreed the bowls were our favourite.
Desserts and Drinks
There are some nice options for dessert. Anyone whose been on Instagram is sure to be familiar with the blueberry creme cheese mousse. Both very photogenic and delicious, the chocolate cake is also a good option here. That said the stand out dishes are the savoury ones.
The drinks offered are the usual soda options but there’s a nice choice of beer and wine too. The ubiquitous souvenir cup is also available but that’s the one item here Disney have not delivered well. My son is a serious souvenir cup collector but he was nonplussed with the Na’vi flute cup. At least that was one less space to find in the jam-packed kitchen cupboard at home.
We are, as a family, adventurous eaters. So for us Satu’li is a great addition to Animal Kingdom’s food offer, but it would also appeal to less adventurous types. This casual dining restaurant is better than some Disney table service locations. Both great value and great quality, Satu’li actually is a dining destination. In a park packed with amazing dining experiences I applaud Disney for trying so hard with Satu’li Canteen. Give it a try you won’t certainly won’t regret it.