Of course, we’re talking about the food in Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and while the names may be intimidating, the food that actually shows up on your plate most certainly isn’t. Still, you’ll want to choose wisely, because the most frightening thing about some of the options is their size (we’re looking at you, Satu’li Bowls)!
There is only one restaurant in Pandora, and that’s the Satu’li Canteen. It’s a counter service outlet—formerly the mess hall for the now-defunct Resources Development Administration (RDA)—which has been heavily decorated with items the Na’vi indigenous people made as symbols of their culture and then donated to the canteen to display, for the education and enjoyment of visitors coming to the planet on an Alpha Centauri Expeditions eco-tour.
But before you grab a seat you’ll have to grab a meal, and that’s where the fun starts. The Na’vi, apparently, are big on choice. The most popular items visitors tuck into are the Create-Your-Own Satu’li Bowls. It quickly becomes obvious that the Na’vi are either sticklers for instructions, or they got tired of repeating the same thing over and over to guests who are new to the concept of ‘create your own’, because the menu walks visitors through the selection process, step by step.
First, choose a protein, from grilled beef, grilled chicken, sustainable fish, or fried tofu (be brave and go for the tofu, which is delicious, or be like nearly everyone else and go for the beef, because even though it’s Pandora, it’s also America).
Next, choose a grain, from quinoa (yes, it’s shaped like tiny blood cells, if blood cells were clear and dry, but it’s fabulous and you should try it), red and sweet potato hash, mixed whole grain and rice, or romaine and kale (for those of you who have actual willpower, even when you’re travelling to other planets).
Finally, sauce the whole thing up with Charred Onion Chimichurri (don’t be afraid; it’s oil, cilantro, garlic, a splash of vinegar and some lovely seasonings), black bean vinaigrette (interesting, but get the chimichurri) or creamy herb dressing (boring; get the chimichurri).
Remember those boba balls we mentioned earlier? Your Satu’li Bowl will be topped with them. Yes, you can eat them. Yes, they’re tasty, if startling. They pop like the jumbo caviar-imposters they are, and their insides are nothing fancier than a tiny dollop of yoghurt. In fact, they might rightly be considered the food icon of Pandora, because you’re going to encounter them in several places (more on that shortly).
The second most popular dish at Satu’li is the aforementioned Steamed Pod. At some point in their history the Na’vi must have visited China, because these little bundles of soft breadiness are better known in Earth terms as bao buns. And like many cultures that bring back good memories of some dish they tried during their travels, the Na’vi’s bao buns bear a resemblance to their Asian roots, but…well…only just.
There are two types of steamed pods. One is filled with vegetable curry, which is actually quite nice, if a bit heavy on the curry. The other is filled with ‘cheeseburger’, a sad and unpleasant mixture of chopped-up mince, cheese, ketchup, mustard and pickles that would be lovely on a taco salad but is just plain wrong in steamed bread. You shouldn’t fear them, but we’re not going to say you should buy them, either.
After their trip to China, the Na’vi must have stopped off in the good ol’ U.S. of A., because there’s a Teylu Hot Dog on the canteen’s menu, and it’s wrapped in dough, then baked, with the end result looking a lot like a giant ‘pig in a blanket’, the childhood picnic staple of every American over the age of 50. And lest you worry that those animals you hear wailing and howling in the Pandoran forest after dark will somehow feature in this tubular meat ensemble, these dogs are all-beef, so enjoy!
Drinking at Satu’li Canteen takes on a Pandora-inspired flair, with the really very appealing Mo’ara High Country Ale, unremarkable Banshee Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, vivid blue Dreamwalker Sangria, and Hawke’s Grog Ale, which is okay if you don’t mind your beer being green (which we do, unless it’s Saint Patrick’s Day). Pandoran Sunrise is the signature non-alcoholic drink, and somehow the horror of Bud Light crept into the offerings, as well as the more palatable Stella Artois, which proves the Na’vi made it to Belgium, too. There are two Dessert “Ber’ri”—a chocolate cake and a blueberry cream cheese mousse—and both are little works of art, but you might want to save your sweet tooth for our next stop.
Pongu Pongu quick-serve, is the place to “Party Party”, but with no room to actually party party. Still, you’ll have plenty of sugar-fueled energy for dancing elsewhere if you opt for either the Night Blossom (non-alcoholic) slushy drink, with limeade, apple and pear flavours, topped with passion fruit boba balls, or the Mo’ara Margarita made with strawberry and blood orange, also topped with (you guessed it!) boba balls, this time strawberry flavoured.
There is only one food item here, the Pongu Lumpia, and while it sounds like a fish you’d find in the Amazon River, it’s really a rather delightful pineapple and cream cheese concoction enveloped in a spring roll wrapper, fried to a golden brown, and sprinkled with Earth sugar. Sweet (very!), but rather light and pleasant. Split one, like we do, and feel virtuous when your mini sugar-buzz kicks in.
If those are the dining options, there are three little packages you might want to seek out in Windtraders gift shop, as edible souvenirs to Pandora. Vein Pod is a green-chocolate-covered Rice Krispy cereal treat resembling the glowing pod plants that light up in the Mo’ara Valley once the sun goes down; Pandoran Tree Spores are little coconut brownie bites; and the odd, skewered gummi crescents labeled Teylu Gummi Candy are flavoured with dragon fruit, lemon, and fruit punch.
Since “Teylu” is a Pandoran word for a shrimp-like creature, we’ll have to take our own advice about being brave with our culinary choices next time we travel to that planet far, far away!
Have you tried the foods of Pandora? Are you looking forward to trying them? Join us on Attraction Tickets Direct’s discussion forums and let’s talk about it!
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