On Wednesday, I had the opportunity and pleasure to be among the first to sample the offerings at the Satu’li Canteen thanks to a Cast Member preview. As you may know, the Satu’li Canteen is located in the new land, Pandora – The World of Avatar. The new restaurant is a fast-casual style offering and, from what we could tell, is located on the right side of the land. So here is our brief experience and early review! We weren’t allowed to take pictures during the preview, so all food pictures are official photos released from online. Photos from inside the restaurant are from the recent media preview of the land; photo credit goes to Inside the Magic.
It’s All About The Story
During the time period of the Avatar films, the canteen was used as the main mess hall for the Resources Development Administration (RDA) base. However, since time has passed, it is now owned and operated by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) tour company. ACE is a brand you will be seeing throughout the entire land; on the merchandise bags, trash cans, and even the name tags.
The interior of the canteen has been redesigned and now contains many colorful Na’vi items, such as “hand-woven tapestries, natural Pandoran elements, and even cooking tools, which all now hang from the ceilings or walls. It is a beautiful detail that really helps immerse you in the story. Also, because it is supposed to be a legitimate mess hall, the food is served on glassware and real utensils are provided at the drink stations (at least, this makes sense to me story wise). However, keeping with DAK tradition, there are still no lids for cups and the cardboard straws live on.
The Menu is Unique
Our experience was really quite unique. After stating how many were in our party, we were divided into groupings and each handed a card for ordering. Each card represented a different style of meal to order. For instance, most of us received a standard 1 entrée and 1 non-alcoholic beverage coupon. However, I was given one for 1 entrée, 1 non-alcoholic beverage, and 1 children’s entrée; and Jean received one for 1 entrée, 1 non-alcoholic beverage, and 1 dessert. While this was so the cashiers could practice taking many different kinds of orders, it also helped us sample a wide range on the menu!
As with most of our in-park quick-service (fast-casual) dining, the menu offerings aren’t wide in variety and can be broken down into two groupings. (You’ll see there’s more variety than meets the eye for Satu’li Canteen.) For the adult entrees, there are bowls and steamed pods. The bowls are a genius idea because they aren’t just pick A, B, or C. They allow the diners to customize their meal to their liking and for return diners to mix and match to try something completely new.
The online menu doesn’t clarify what the customized offerings are other than wood-grilled chicken, grilled beef, sustainable crispy fish, or chili-spiced tofu. Once diners select their protein, then they are able to add a base and sauce. The base options include: quinoa and vegetable salad; red and sweet potato hash; mixed whole-grain and rice; or romaine and kale salad. Lastly, the sauce options are: charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette, or creamy herb dressing. Mix and match how you please.
The other side of the menu is the steamed pods, which is either a cheeseburger steamed pod Bao bun, or a vegetable steamed curry pod Bao bun. (The cheeseburger pod, as well as a hot dog wrapped in dough, and a cheese quesadilla is offered for children.)
Drink wise, they have all the standard offerings, plus a specialty juice called Pandoran Sunrise. As far as adult beverages go, it seems as though Disney took a note from the World of Harry Potter. Pandora will have two specialty beers: Pandora Grog Ale, a green colored, fruity wheat beer; and Pandora Amber Ale, amber color with herbal spices, caramel, toffee, and nuts. (Two size offerings). There is also Dreamwalker Sangria – white sangria with Blue Curacao (so yes, it’s a blue drink). And the wines offered, a pinot and chardonnay, are of the brand named Banshee! The Pandoran Sunrise is the yellow drink pictured in the center.
Lastly, there are two desserts offered. Blueberry Cream Cheese Mouse (described like blueberry cheesecake) and Chocolate Cake with a banana cream topping.
Long story short, we loved the food. It’s incredibly fresh and satisfying. And the flavor is just… there! It’s bursting with it. And it’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before!
I had the chicken bowl with red and sweet potatoes and creamy herb sauce. And yes, it comes with the Boba balls you see pictured. Our recommendation is to not sample them alone because they are slightly bitter. However, they taste delicious mixed in with everything. (There is no picture of the chicken bowl provided online.) All of my choices really complimented each other. The chicken was well seasoned and grilled perfectly. The slaw was fresh and the sauce was just the perfect amount. For my children’s meal, I ordered the cheeseburger steamed pod. It came with vegetable chips and grapes. I have a feeling the pod is going to throw some children off, but honestly, I loved it and would order it again as my entrée. To be honest, it tasted like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. But it was full of flavor and ingredients. The chips were good and lightly seasoned. You can’t even tell they’re vegetables. Pictured below is the Vegetable Curry Steamed Pod entrée.
Three of my friends ordered the crispy fish bowl with variations on the offerings. Overall, the opinions of the fish were mixed. They weren’t kidding when the menu said crispy. The fish literally had to be broken into. Some reported it was a bit dry, but the flavor was still there. The chimichurri sauce on it was good and Jean really liked his salad offering along with it.
As for the beef bowl, it looked nothing like the picture. It’s more like sliced beef (similar to an Arby’s or deli style slicing). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The thin slices looked easier to eat than what’s pictured. The beef was cooked medium with pink in the middle and looked very tender. My friend Brittany said she loved it.
One of us ordered the chili- spiced tofu bowl with chimichurri sauce. Apparently, they did not skimp on the chili spice. Both she reported it was very spicy, which may be something to look into to see if you can order it without the spice. We found it a bit odd to have the only vegetarian offering be spicy.
The Pandoran Sunrise was light and refreshing. It is very much a melon fruit juice and served with a slice of pineapple. I’m sure it’ll be very popular, especially with its souvenir mug, which we didn’t get a chance to see.
Since only one of us had the dessert option, we only had the chance to sample the chocolate cake. This is not for the faint of heart if you do not like chocolate. The chocolate cake is hardly cake. The center is more like a rich, dark chocolate mousse with a chocolate coating, covered in cocoa powder. It is topped with a dollop of banana cream and served with pieces of pineapple. One bite was enough for most of us. However, the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mouse looked wildly delicious.
The Satu’li Canteen will most likely be a big win for Disney as a whole. It’s unlike anything they’ve ever offered here at WDW for their fast-casual dining. The food is very clearly fresh. In fact, you can even see them grilling the meats on an open fired grill right in the dining area. The ability to personalize your meal is wonderful and the flavor is spot on. The portion sizes fit the pricing and I think many guests will walk away happy and satisfied.
I make jokes about Avatar all in good fun, but I truly think this new land will be a game changer for Disney as a company and for the industry as a whole. Just from the little I saw, the land is gorgeous. When Guests enter, it will be awe inspiring and an incredibly immersive experience. This could very well become known as one of, if not Disney’s best casual-dining offering for Guests to date. The new land opens May 27th.