Satu'li Canteen - Pandoran Comfort Foodby Roan Poulter, contributing writer
It can be hard to embrace new dining options. I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for nostalgia and fond memories that seem to improve with time. New establishments within the Disney world seem generally to be met with a healthy dose of skepticism by diehard fans.
Satu'li Canteen seemed to hold little to no draw for me. My family had visited when Pandora first opened and had positive things to say about it, but given the excellent dining options in Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, it seemed I could always find something more appealing.
The insanity of Christmas has a way of changing the minds of even the most fervent. We visited on December 23, along with every other sentient creature in 1,000 miles. Lines for even the food carts were a half-hour.
Why then would I head to the busiest part of the park? Well, NextGen dining options my dear reader. The ability to order from the MyDisneyExperience App. While I'm not always the biggest fan of the App—I find it crashes twice for every time I open it—the time saved waiting in a food line on a busy day cannot be overestimated. Now, word of warning, there may come a day when ordering ahead will become the standard, but that day has not arrived.
Of course online ordering and quick pickup are only a small fraction of what Satu'li Canteen has going for it. We found each ingredient to be fresh, correctly prepared and served with enough attention to detail as to put to shame a few sit down dining options.
The concept is simple: pick a protein, pick a base, pick a sauce. But within those choices lie enough variability to suit most appetites: Chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, red and sweet potato hash, noodles, rice and black beans, salad and three properly acidic sauces to counter the savory fatty goodness. Combine that with the Star Wars meets Dances With Wolves decorating motif and you have a most pleasant and satisfying dining experience.
What We Had
Slow-Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef Bowl (Slow roasted sliced grilled beef marinated in a blend of garlic, herbs, red pepper spice and red wine vinegar topped with crunchy vegetable slaw and Boba balls served with your choice of base and sauce. Base: noodles. Sauce: charred green onion vinaigrette): The star of the show I'm pleased to say is the Beef, cooked properly as I would, still red. The blend of textures and flavor profiles should please discerning palates. The noodles were good, but underwhelming in a cast of superstar ingredients. The crunchy slaw and vinaigrette balanced the fatty beef well. Not exactly sure who invited Boba to the party, but it did add visual interest and a feeling of confusion when I first saw them.
Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken and Slow Roasted Grilled Beef Bowl (Wood grilled chicken thighs marinated with garlic and olive oil topped with crunchy vegetable slaw and Boba balls served with your choice of base and sauce. Base: rice and black beans. Sauce: creamy herb dressing.): As good as the beef was, the Chicken is truly a stand out. Wood fired meat is unfair competition, it is positively bursting with wood fired flavor. The rice and beans had been suggested by someone as the best option and I cannot argue, they were an ideal cell mate in this prison of decadence and deliciousness. If you're a meat eater, you simply cannot go wrong with this.
Cheeseburger Pod: Sadly an item that no longer seems to show on the menu. What I would call a cheeseburger cross pollinated with a Bao bun, it was a simple and delicious treat. We got one as we were splitting the beef/chicken bowl. In truth, it was just alright and I'm not shocked to see it gone.
Our ratings are as follows:
- Dad (44): 4.6 of 5 - This is American food at it's best. Everything tastes good, it reminds me of a Chipotle type restaurant. I love how fast and fresh everything is.
- Mom (43): 4.7 of 5 – Fastest food in the park and honestly, some of the best.
- Son (18): 4.7 of 5 – Chicken and steak? Heavenly. If only they threw in a pork side.
- Daughter (20): XX of 5 – Not Present.