Part II- The Food
In my last Pandora blog entry, I wrote how the Flight of Passage attraction was SO worth the hype. And it was. I’m still geeking out over that ride.
You know what wasn’t worth the hype (in my humble opinion)? The food.
Don’t get me wrong, it was good. It just wasn’t great. All the blogs and vlogs I had read/watched prior to visiting Pandora raved about the food, and so I was really excited to try it. So excited, in fact, that I dragged my whole party there to eat dinner at Satu’li Canteen (Pandora’s main quick-service restaurant). One person in my party is hyper-critical about restaurants and food, but I was confident everyone would find their meals amazing.
I should have just stuck to Yak and Yeti.
Satu’li Canteen, like I said, is the main (and only) restaurant in Pandora. They actually have a wide range of unique and healthy items- items that look like they’re from another planet. After all, the Na’vi are all tall, thin, and muscular beings; if this is the food they eat to stay fit, it must be incredible, right?
The restaurant itself is beautiful. The light fixtures bathe the room in a warm glow, and the weaving ornaments surrounding the walls and ceilings made me feel like I was in one of my old Anthropology classrooms. There are “artifacts” built into a few of the walls as well, like Na’vi cooking instruments. The whole place smells of wood, smoke, and incense (okay, maybe the incense was just my imagination).
As you enter the actual line to order your food, you see the ordering stations and virtual menus, which makes you feel as if you are in the base of a derelict space station or military camp. The whole place is a neat mixture of industrialized space-age props, and earthy, Zen home goods.
You get handed a menu by a Cast Member as you enter the Canteen, place your order at the quick-service pods, and then bring your food to a table. There are stations on one side of the restaurant to fill up your drinks, grab silverware (not plastic- real actual cutlery!), condiments, and paper straws.
There are no lids in Animal Kingdom, so keep that in mind as you fill up your drink to the top and then carry it all the way across the restaurant (like I did). You have the option of eating indoors or outdoors, yet both are under cover. The restaurant is quite big, so it never felt crowded to me.
All in all, I’d give the atmosphere a 10/10.
Now, on to the food.
If you’ve ever been to Chipotle, the ordering style here is very similar. You pick a protein (beef, chicken, fish, or tofu), a base (rice, potato hash, or salad) and a sauce (black bean vinaigrette, creamy ranch, or chimichurri), and all of this is piled together in a bowl, topped with vegetable slaw and boba balls (I don’t know how else to describe that).
Most of my party got various combinations of these bowls, and I thought my husband’s chicken/potato/chimichurri combo was quite tasty. Nothing spectacular, but it was alright. Others got the beef as their protein, which was declared “cold” and “not good.” Well…alright then. Fail on my part.
To be fair, it DID take a really long time for our food to come out after we ordered it, and it had been a long day. So that could have played a factor.
I decided to go with the cheeseburger pods (also known as bao buns), served with a side of vegetable chips. I had heard that the cheeseburger inside tasted just like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. And, well…let’s just say I prefer McDonald’s a lot better. This was really dry, and I couldn’t even finish it. The chips were yummy, but I will not be ordering the pods again.
There are also desserts on the menu (a pretty blue cheesecake among them), and a breakfast menu, but I didn’t try any of them (nor did I try the cocktails here). Therefore, I may just have to make another trip to sample more of the Satu’li Canteen.
The flavors are really unique (blending Argentinian, Brazilian, and Chinese influences), and if the food hadn’t come out cold, I think I would have liked my meal more. I will definitely be getting a bowl next time. The atmosphere, as I mentioned, does make up for the not-so-great experience I had with the food.
Satu’li Canteen is also one of the Disney World restaurants that now offers mobile ordering, meaning you can order food off the My Disney Experience app, pay through the app, and then pick it up at the counter once you get to the restaurant. This allows you to skip the line, and many more restaurants in WDW have since adopted this practice.
I would give the meal a 4/10.
Now, Pongu Pongu is a whole different story!
Pongu Pongu (meaning “party party” in Na’vi) is a drink kiosk that serves specialty cocktails and spirits. It is located right across from the Satu’li Canteen, and looks like a drink stand you would find at Coachella. Their signature drink is the Frozen Nectar, and they also have green beer and a “Screaming Banshee Margarita” that are quite popular.
Keep in mind, I’m not a drinker, so for those who really want to get into the Pandora spirit, this booth is more for you. Therefore, I tried the Night Blossom- a non-alcoholic, but really delicious, concoction of goodness.
The Night Blossom is reminiscent of The Unicorn Frappuccino at Starbucks, but different in that it actually tastes good. If you’ve ever been to Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival and had the Violet Lemonade, it tastes similar to that. It’s layered with green and purple shades (limeade, apple, and pear flavor), and it’s topped with orange boba balls (passion-fruit flavored).
You can get this with or without a souvenir mug. I got it in a regular cup, and it was about $6 with my annual pass discount. It is REALLY sugary and sweet, but so refreshing on a hot day. My husband and I downed this in about two minutes after riding Flight of Passage.
I highly recommend visiting this stand, even if you don’t get this “Instagram-worthy” drink. Some of the drinks on the menu are pricey, but I hear most are pretty stiff and worth the price.
I rate Pongu Pongu 9/10 (I wish it was a bit cheaper).
For those who have visited, what did you think of the food? Was I too critical?
Stay tuned for my last Pandora: World of Avatar installment, which will be all about the atmosphere of the land, including the gift shop, the photo opportunities, and the “shows.” What did I think of Pandora at night? Did I find the now-famous “Moss Wall?” What is ACE Expeditions and how does it fit in to Pandora? Check back to find out!
P.S.- I forgot to mention this in my last post, but you do NOT have to have seen the film Avatar to enjoy this land. Plenty of people in line around us kept talking about how they had never seen the movie, and they all loved the attraction. Judging by how crowded it was, I’m assuming most people felt the same way.
Hugs and Fishes,