Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sanaa - Thanksgiving Dinner

Last updated December 8, 2019 

Even before we moved to California, we started talking about what time of the year would be good to return to Orlando, and decided that we wanted to spend Thanksgiving Break at Disney World.

One of my favorite meals of the year is Thanksgiving dinner, so I was not super excited about missing out on some of our favorite dishes, but we decided that we would make our Thanksgiving feast for Christmas. We made advance dining reservations at Sanaa, a table service restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village, for Thanksgiving dinner.  We chose Sanaa, because it is one of our favorite restaurants at Disney World, and I figured it was my best chance to eat a great Thanksgiving meal.

Our last year in Orlando, we had Christmas dinner at Sanaa. They did not have an allergy-friendly menu that day, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was given an allergy-friendly menu on Thanksgiving.  Right away, I noticed that the Thanksgiving Day Dinner was not marked as gluten-friendly, but when I spoke to our server, she told me that it could be made gluten free.  Other gluten-friendly options listed on the menu:

  • Indian style bread service with vegan naan and nine accompaniments
  • Tomato and paneer soup
  • Butternut squash soup (hard to see on the menu, but I remember it being gluten free) 
  • Oxtail Umngqusho - cracked hominy and beans with braised oxtail
  • Boerewors and spiced eggs - traditional South African sausage, curried spiced eggs, and Cape Malay onion salad 
  • Braaivleis - trio of meats with seasonal accompaniments 
  • Grilled New York strip - served with root vegetable mash, spice glazed carrots and Bain's butter
  • Potjie Inspired - choice of one Journey and one Harvest, served with basmati rice
    • Journey - beef short ribs, butter chicken, or Durban shrimp
    • Harvest - aloo masala, chickpea wat, paneer tikka, or lentil dhal 
  • Harvest spice cake with maple cream cheese icing and cranberry apple butter
  • African chocolate mousse with dark, milk, and white chocolate, with strawberries

Our party of nine ordered two Indian bread services with nine accompaniments. Usually we pick and choose the accompaniments, but I was told we had to get all nine, because of the limited menu. Our server did promise to bring us more of our favorites if needed, because my daughters were not happy that they would not be getting their own mango chutney.

Our gluten-filled naan was served on a separate plate from our accompaniments and our gluten free naan. My aunt and I each had one piece, and I topped mine with mango and coriander chutneys, my two favorite accompaniments. I wanted a second piece, because it was as delicious as usual, but I knew I had to save room for my entree and dessert.

I was so excited that I could order the Thanksgiving Day Dinner with carved turkey, Tandoor spiced turkey confit, Brussels sprouts, green beans with dried apricots, gluten free naan bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and ginger-cardamom cranberries. I do not like gravy, so I skipped the turkey gravy, which I am pretty sure was available gluten free.

When my dish arrived, I noticed that the ginger-orange cranberries had been forgotten, so our server brought me a side. I rarely like any stuffing except my family's cornbread stuffing, but I enjoyed everything on my plate, including the naan stuffing, which you cannot see in the picture, because it was under my turkey.

Everything was seasoned and cooked well, and I loved that there were so many interesting choices on my plate, and that they included a piece of turkey skin. The ginger-cardamom cranberries were incredible, and my daughters, who shared a Thanksgiving Day Dinner, ate all of theirs, and were asking everyone else if they had any extra to share.

For dessert, I ordered the harvest spice cake with maple cream cheese icing and cranberry apple butter. After we left Sanaa, I was shocked to discover that I forgot to take a picture of my dessert. The presentation was pretty incredible - a small double layer cake beautifully piped with icing. I did take a picture of the African triple chocolate mousse, one of my favorite gluten free dessert options at Disney World. I first tried this dessert at Sanaa over the summer, which you can read about here.

When you dine at Sanaa,  I suggest requesting a table near the window when you check in, so you can see the animals on Sunset Savanna.

Our entire family enjoyed their meals at Sanaa.  Everyone except two people in our party ordered the Thanksgiving Day Dinner.  I am looking forward to dining at Sanaa again next Thanksgiving Break.

May 25, 2019 Update

Last November, we had Thanksgiving dinner at Sanaa for the second year in a row.

This year, it was just the four of us celebrating my favorite food holiday.

I ordered a white sangria, which I really enjoyed.

I shared an order of the Indian-style bread service with my gluten-eating family. My naan with mango and coriander chutneys was served on a separate plate.

I would have liked to have had more than one piece of naan, but I was saving room for my entree.

The Thanksgiving Day Dinner was not labeled gluten free on the allergy-friendly menu, but just like last year, they had gluten free naan stuffing available to make this dish safe for me. The dark meat was very salty, but everything else was delicious. My meal included carved turkey, Tandoor spiced confit, hibiscus glazed yams, green beans with apricot butter, minted rutabaga, roasted Brussels sprouts, naan bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and ginger-cardamom cranberries. The hibiscus glazed yams were absolutely amazing. I hope they serve them again next year.

I have a hard time passing up the African triple chocolate mousse with layers of dark, milk, and white chocolate mousse on top of a chocolate biscuit. This dessert is always divine.

We also decided to try the Harvest Pudding, which was not what I expected, but it was very good. The menu described it as sweet cornmeal custard, African Star Rum creme anglaise, vanilla bean ice cream, and cranberry cherry gel, so I was not expecting a dense cake.

Overall, we loved our Thanksgiving dinner at Sanaa, with the exception of the dark meat, so we will definitely be making reservations to dine there again next Thanksgiving Break. My friend Lorraine, who also eats gluten free, had an amazing Thanksgiving meal at Jiko, which we might have to try some year, if we can ever tear ourselves away from Sanaa.

December 8, 2019 Update

For the third year in a row, we had Thanksgiving dinner at Sanaa, but this year, we were joined by my parents, my aunt and uncle, my in-laws, and my brother-in-law's family. When my booking window opened, no dinner reservations were available for Sanaa, but they finally opened up a few weeks later. We ended up with three separate reservations as family members decided that they wanted to join us. The cast members at Sanaa were super accommodating, and were able to seat us at two large tables next to each other.

There was no allergy-friendly menu this year, but our server did a great job helping us with gluten free options for myself, and dairy free options for my aunt and uncle.

We ordered two Indian-style bread services with accompaniments for eight of us. One was served with gluten free naan, which is also vegan, and the other one was served with traditional naan.

We usually pick and choose what accompaniments we want, but our server told us that he would gladly bring us any extras we needed. I did eat my usual two favorites, the mango chutney and the coriander chutney, on my naan, and I also enjoyed the tamarind chutney and the tomato date jam.

Everyone at our table except my mom ordered the Thanksgiving Day Dinner. As usual, the portion was huge, and I could not finish it all. This year, the Thanksgiving Day Dinner was served with spiced turkey, turkey confit, hibiscus-glazed yams, mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans with apricot butter, naan stuffing, ginger-cardamom cranberries, and turkey gravy.

My dinner was served with gluten free naan stuffing. I requested my meal be served without gravy, but it was available gluten free. Sanaa did not have dairy free gravy, but dairy free mashed potatoes were available. The dark meat was a little salty again this year, but everything else on my plate was delicious.

For dessert, my aunt and uncle ordered the two dairy free options. My uncle chose the Kheer rice pudding, which was a big hit with both families, and my aunt enjoyed her mango sorbet. Both desserts were also gluten free.

For dessert, I considered the African triple chocolate mousse, but I can get that any time I dine at Sanaa, so I chose the apple cake with Rooibos mousse, caramelized apples, and apple-spiced cake. The presentation was beautiful, and my dessert was incredible. Roobios is a red herbal tea from South Africa, and I loved the mousse on top of my thin layer of apple cake. The caramelized apples were divine too. The crumble on my plate made this dessert the perfect mix of flavors and textures. I wish Sanaa served it all year, because it would rank as one of my favorite gluten free desserts at Disney World.

Overall, we loved our dinner at Sanaa, and look forward to returning on Thanksgiving Day again next year. 

You can read more about Sanaa, view their menu and hours, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Sanaa?


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