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Guest Review: Tambu Lounge and ‘Ohana

Thanks again to Sarah Holodick for reporting and reviewing from one of our favorite spots, ‘Ohana in Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort!

Back in July I made a dinner reservation to go to ‘Ohana in January. It had been several years since Matt last went, and over 16 years for me! I don’t remember much, if anything, of what was served back then. Our reservation was for 7:15 p.m.  and we arrived early to have a drink at Tambu Lounge.

Tambu Lounge
We noticed that they’ve expanded their appetizer options since the last time we were there. They also have added a page dedicated to the Tambu Lounge specialty cocktails, which when I last saw it was simply the generic property-wide menu. We both highly recommend the Backscratcher! I checked in at the podium and had about a 15 minute wait until we were seated for dinner.

Tambu Lounge Menu

Tambu Lounge Specialty Drinks

‘Ohana
They led us to our table and, to start off, they serve sweet ‘Ohana bread. We dove in before the picture was taken, but I really don’t think you can blame us! It’s quite tasty.

'Ohana Welcome Bread

Shortly after we sat down, our server, Trevor, took our drink orders. We were also brought a bowl of salad to start our meal. The salad is a mix of greens and some shredded carrot. Not exactly riveting, but the Honey Lime dressing they use is delicious! They use a decent amount of dressing too, and while I prefer a more lightly dressed salad, Matt thought it was just right.

Mixed Greens with Honey Lime Dressing

Our next course arrived and consisted of Pork and Vegetable Dumplings and Honey Ginger Chicken Wings. The wings are the same ones they serve at Tambu Lounge, however those arrive with a mustard sauce drizzled over the top. We enjoyed the dumplings and they weren’t greasy, although I think they were a little heavy on the ginger.

Pork and Vegetable Dumplings.

The wings are a favorite of ours and we often order them at Tambu Lounge (along with the Crisp Breads and Dips!). They were very moist and were fairly large as well. I was a bit reserved the first time I’d ever tried them since too much ginger can be very astringent in flavor, but that’s not the case with these. While I taste the ginger, it’s certainly not overwhelming, and the flavor is well-balanced.

Honey Ginger Chicken Wings

We then received Lo Mein noodles, vegetables and a trio of dipping sauces for the forthcoming skewered meats. The noodles were pretty standard and tasted fine, but I didn’t have more than a forkful. Matt enjoyed them, and said they were better than the alternatively greasy stuff from take-out.

Lo Mein Noodles

We ate some of the snow peas out of the vegetable mixture and I thought they were cooked just right. The trio of sauces we were given were peanut, mustard, and sweet and sour. I personally didn’t use any of the sauces, although I did taste them and thought they all tasted good. The peanut sauce was thinner than we expected, and Matt didn’t expect it to drip off the fork like it did. He still thought it was awesome, though he would have preferred it to be thicker.

Broccoli, Snow Peas & Carrots

Next came what we thought would be the star of the show, the skewers!  We were served Marinated Sirloin Steak, Spicy Grilled Peel and Eat Shrimp, Asian Barbecued Pork Loin, and Oak Grilled Chicken.  Matt and I agreed that the steak was our top choice of the four proteins served.  It was actually cooked rare!  Look at the picture!

Marinated Sirloin Steak

Not Overcooked!

After the steak, we differed slightly regarding our favorites.  My second favorite was the spicy shrimp, as they did actually have a little bit of heat to them.

Spicy Grilled Peel and Eat Shrimp

Matt, who doesn’t go near shrimp, declined to taste any, but enjoyed the pork loin.  I thought the pork was okay and had a good flavor, but was a little too dry for me.  Maybe if I had used those sauces, it wouldn’t have been so noticeable.

Asian Barbecued Pork Loin

Placing last was the chicken as it was just dry and rather flavorless.

Oak Grilled Chicken

Just as we were finishing our plates, Wishes! began at the Magic Kingdom. The lights dimmed and the music started, and we watched the fireworks from our table.

Now, do you remember how earlier we thought the skewers would be the star of the show?  Well, we quickly changed our minds once dessert was served: Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce.  Those of you who have read my reviews know I’m not big on sweets and desserts.  If anything, some fresh fruit is more than enough to appease me.

Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce

Well, let me just say, bananas are fruit! This dessert was incredible. The slightly crisp edges of the bread pudding were softened as the vanilla bean ice cream melted from warm bananas foster sauce that was poured onto it by Trevor.  Matt and I were already full, but we managed to eat the entire dessert.

Close Up

While ‘Ohana may be hit or miss on the quality of the skewers, and old favorites sometimes disappear, I’m very glad we took the opportunity to try the restaurant again.  Our experience was a very good one, and the dessert alone may just be enough to get us back there sooner rather than later!

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16 Comments

  1. Allison says:

    You’ve just given away my and my husband’s secret spot – Tambu Lounge! :-) Best place on property to just chill, especially after a long day at the Magic Kingdom. The wings are excellent, and the Luau Roll is good as well. We honeymooned in Maui, so the Tambu Lounge is like a little slice of heaven to us.

  2. Angela says:

    Mmm I love Ohana! My upcoming trip is the first in a few years that I don’t have an ADR, but I just don’t have the time for it (we’re only going to be there for a few days before and after a cruise).

    Last March when I was eating here, our server brought out all the dipping sauces first and recommended trying some of the peanut sauce in the salad. I have NEVER seen my bf eat any sort of vegetable that quick. In fact, it was the only thing besides the dumplings ( I looove love love dumplings) that we ate every late bite of!

  3. Jim says:

    Something to know: Once you order the Lapu you can get refills at a lower price.

  4. Cooktestant says:

    Ohana means family and full stomach! I love Ohana and Tambu Lounge, some of my favorite memories in Orlando have been there. Thanks for doing this post, but now I am oh so hungry!

  5. John says:

    I was at ‘Ohana Tuesday night. Overall, it was a good meal. My biggest complaint was cold food: the bread was hard and stale, and the wings, dumplings, veggies, and lo mein were luke warm to downright cold. That being said, they were still flavorful, although the dumplings were a bit hard. Stale bread was a fail. Agree that the salad dressing really made it stand out.

    Some people complain about the meats, but I had a good experience. Just like you, the chicken and pork were a bit overcooked (sauce helped) but beef was cooked just right (mine was about medium). Didn’t try the shrimp.

    I always hear raves about the break pudding. I thought it was very good, but not great. It seemed undercooked to me since we didn’t have any “crisp edges”. That being said, I would never turn it away!

    I would return to ‘Ohana for sure. And for about $35 per person (including soft drink), it’s a good value (by WDW standards).

  6. eliza says:

    Ohana is the ultimate Disney dining experience. We make it a must to stop here for breakfast and dinner every single trip!!! Breakfast is just delightful, with a Hawaiian dressed Mickey and Pluto or Goofy(depending on the season) and my personal favorties, Lilo and Stitch! The characters come around more than once and really interact with the guests… especially Stitch! The food is wonderful; served family style. The two breakfast breads are delicious along with the yummy POG juice. For dinner, the food is yet again family style. This is the ideal eatery for family fun! Entertainment consists of coconut rlling races, interactive activities for the kids, and a Hawaiian singer! The atmosphere is just lovely and tropical, and the restaurant smells terrific. Ask fo a table by the window, you can see Cinderella’s Castle all lit up, changing colors. And if you stay late enough, you can view Wishes too! Dessert is a standout, as well as the wings for me atleast. The only dissapoionted one in the family was our 12 year old son. Hes a picky, non adventurous eater, and the Honey- Ginger marinates along with the exotic foods scared him away. As we left we saw some kids with normal meals like hamburgers and fries. Now we know that kids can order a “safe” American meal. Overall, great place!!! You can feel a bit rushed at times, though; the food keeps coming and comes fast!

  7. J says:

    I love ‘Ohana. However, the value has gone down so substantially over the last ten years, it’s incredible. They used to serve you a whole second course that had salmon, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves and the noodles in it. The first/appetizer course had many more options than what they serve now. Plus they used to have some great homemade dipping sauces, rather than the pre-made store bought stuff they serve now (the mango/pineapple one was delicious).

    While it’s still great, it’s sad they have cut back on the variety of food served compared to what they used to, while charging quite literally twice what they did a few years back, and guests are none the wiser.

  8. Kim says:

    My favorite Disney restaurant! After reading this review, I’m a little sad that we decided to skip it on our upcoming trip. :-(

  9. Holly says:

    This is one of our families favorites. We will be eating here in a few weeks and I can’t wait! Kids love the activities and it is a nice place to watch fireworks from. I wish they would bring back the green beans, they are one of my favorite dishes. But as long as they have the bread pudding this will remain our must do resturaunt every trip.

  10. Heather says:

    Excited to read this review as we love the Tambu Lounge and Kona Cafe. We’ve been to Ohana for breakfast–it’s one of my favorites. We’ll be hitting this for dinner in April with a group of friends and I’m glad to read that the meal was enjoyable. We’ve avoided it for a long time because we don’t like “well done” anything. Waiters at WDW sometimes look at us strangely when we order pork medium to medium rare.

  11. ErwinM says:

    We tried ‘Ohana for the first time last December, since we had some friends also vacationing at the same time and up to this point, we hadn’t wanted to experience it with just 2 people. Worth the wait!

    The bread was the least interesting part for us. We had no problem with the rest of the meal, though, and all of the meats were nicely done.

    We were seated on the opposite side of the central island from the stage floor where the ukulele lady was performing, so we only got to hear the show (except for when they came marching around to that half of the dining room). Couldn’t be helped, though.

    If you had the option to trade the pork potstickers for Kona’s duck potstickers (I’d pay full price, even), that would really make it for us.

    We’ll be taking a party of 10 back in October, including 5 kids all aged 6 and under…here’s hoping we’re seated on the other side of the dining room!

  12. Alan says:

    I have never eaten at ‘Ohana due to my wife’s aversion to grilled meats and shrimp. I do remember the previous restaurant which was called Papeete Bay Veranda. If I recall it was a buffet eatery with decent food although I may be mixing it up with the old Tangaroa Terrace, a former restaurant a short walk away from the Great hous which did serve a great breakfast buffet.

    The Tambu Lounge is and has always been a great place to stop, take a break from the parks on a hot day and just chill. We haven’t been there in a couple of years, but there is a waitress working at the lounge who has been at WDW from the very beginning. If you see a sort of exotic looking lady who looks polynesian ask her about it. She has some great memories.

  13. Mark D. says:

    We ate at O’hana two years ago. My wife loved the bread, I could take it or leave it. The dumplings were ok and the wings were good. My biggest complaint was the skewers. All of the meat was way overcooked and dry and I personally don’t like pooper scooping my own shrimp after they have been cooked.

    They actually did us a favor with the bad meat though. We had saved room for it so when we didn’t like it we had plenty of room for the bread pudding!!!

    We have made it at home a few times since then. We love that stuff.

  14. We enjoy both Tambu Lounge & ‘Ohana – it’s been breakfast for the latter most recently, as I’m a vegetarian. But your review reminded me of 1) how much my partner loves some of the meat dishes and 2) Bread Pudding Bananas Foster Sauce. I need to visit ‘Ohana again soon!

  15. Janna says:

    We love ‘Ohana! Several years ago, a server recommended using the peanut sauce on the salad. It was/is incredible! We now ask for a larger peanut sauce as soon as we are seated.

    I, too, usually find that the steak and shrimp are the best of the skewers. Honestly, I enjoyed the turkey a lot when it was an option. ;)

    I’ll say it again, though…I sure do miss the Maui potatoes!!!??

    I also have a child that is a picky eater (although my younger son can eat his weight in food here) and he has always gotten a grilled cheese and fries at ‘Ohana.

  16. melissa sue says:

    I am dying looking at that photo of the bread pudding!! I really, really, really, REALLY want to try it, but I’m not overly interested in dinner at Ohana. I guess I am going to have to change my tune. Maybe Ohana and Wishes?

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