When Pandora opened in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there was a lot to take in, from exciting rides to amazing views. In addition to these, Pandora has an incredible quick service restaurant, Satu’li Canteen. Here’s what you can expect from a visit to this intergalactic eatery for lunch or dinner.
When plans were made for Pandora, it was clear that crowds were expected to be large. Satu’li has a sizable amount of seating both outside (but in the shade) and inside. The theme has a blend of the native and nature-inspired Pandoran locals and the more industrial human arrivals. The overall vibe switches between the two themes, and sometimes blends the two.
Inside, the ordering area has a the industrial theme. Ordering is very efficient, and food comes up freshly made in short time. (Take a moment to think on that–in places where you want to move quickly, the decor is very human-like. Once you receive your meal and want to take the time to enjoy that, the dining areas are much more Pandoran-inspired. Pretty brilliant, huh?)
The menu has several unique options, including bao-style vegetarian and cheeseburger “pods”. Having tried them before, they are unique in presentation, but not something that I’d personally recommend. Instead, where Satu’li really shines are the combinations of foods presented in bowls. From an $75 family-style option available for dinner that serves four to individual portions that range from $12-16, this create-your-own meal is really the way to go.
My husband opted to go with the create-your-own bowl with the chili-spiced crispy fried tofu, black beans and rice, and charred green onion vinaigrette. The tofu had a pleasantly firm texture, similar to paneer in an Indian dish. Although the description said it was chili-spiced, it wasn’t overly spicy–just a little added flavor. The black beans and rice were mediocre–no real flavor, and just there to fill in the bowl. The charred green onion vinaigrette is a family favorite for us–it adds a great flavor to any of the protein options.
For my meal, I went with the largest of the protein options–the beef and chicken combination bowl. To lighten the meal, I got it with the hearty salad option and the creamy herb dressing. One aspect I love about this salad is that it really is hearty. You’ve got roasted tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, vegetable slaw, and kale along with a sizeable scoop of red quinoa. It’s a far cry from just a bed of “spring mix” with an odd carrot thrown in here or there. Unlike some of the other dressings, the creamy dressing was served on the side, which is a plus for me (as I’m not a fan of over-dressing a salad). The dressing itself was okay–it had a very tangy taste to it (my guess being that it is from a yogurt base), which seemed odd for a creamy dressing. Overall, the charred green onion dressing is still the family favorite.
My daughter ordered the quesadilla kids’ meal. Also on the kids’ menu are create-your-own-bowl options, a single cheeseburger pod (the adult meal comes with two), and a dough-wrapped hot dog. What’s nice about the cheese quesadilla is that it comes with two small ones–which makes for a great meal to split for young kids. Something to be aware of with the meal are the chips. Although they look neat and I think they taste great, some of them are seasoned with a spicy mixture. We’ve tried on several times to see which ones have the spice and which haven’t, but it really is hit or miss. If you have a child who isn’t a fan of spicy foods, the chips may not be the best option. Not mentioned on the menu, this kids’ meal also comes with a bag of grapes.
When Satu’li first opened, like pretty much everyone else with a camera at Walt Disney World, we tried the blueberry cream cheese mousse. I know I’ll probably be told to go eat at Restarauntasaurus after this, but no one in my family liked it. Sure, it was beautiful, and maybe the most photographed dessert at Walt Disney World, but the flavor just didn’t work for us. For this trip, we tried the other dessert–the chocolate cake. This is another dessert that is beautiful, but really not my thing. Unlike the blue dessert this one was actually tasty for my taste buds and a good option to split among three people because it is so rich. The challenge we had was that it felt like it was trying too hard. We never figured out what the yellow fruit was garnishing the dish (I said cooked pineapple, but it could have been mango). The goji berries on it weren’t really necessary either for decoration or taste. I personally wasn’t a fan of the banana cream on top, but the chocolate cake itself was rich and creamy. If you like dark chocolate-based desserts, this one is for you.
The seating area inside Satu’li is very inviting and relaxing. The way the dining room is divided up with twists and turns, mirroring the weaving decoration throughout, helps it feel a lot less crowded, even when it is pretty full.
Drinks are self-service, which also means you get the benefit of free refills–a real plus for those hot summer days.
Although the restaurant has many tables to seat 2-4 people, there are also options for shared seating (with signs to indicate this) and some tables with signs saying what minimum number of people are allowed to occupy it. I’ve done the shared seating before as a party of 1, and it felt a little weird at first, but that’s probably my rabid introvert self trying to avoid eye contact at all cost. It is a much better option than having a single person or a party of two take over a table for four or six because that’s all that was available.
Overall, the food at Satu’li is very good, and an exceptional value–you do get a lot of food for the price. If you’re looking for a healthy meal, this is your best option in Animal Kingdom, if not at all of Walt Disney World. The flexibility with the menu for the create-your-own bowl means you have a lot of different options that are prepared to order, but without a lengthy wait. There’s no surprise that this is one of the highest-rated restaurants at Walt Disney World. Hopefully it doesn’t lose its luster, or its creative menu, over time, and perhaps it can inspire the next generation of Disney quick service restaurants.
Have you dined at Satu’li Canteen? What’s your favorite dish to order? Let us know in the comments.