Guest Review: Aulani Eats and Off-Site Treats

in front of the Lava Shack

Join us in welcoming guest author Beth Osborn with a tour of Eats at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa in Oahu. We’ve also got some great tips about eating at non-Disney spots around the resort! Brace yourselves — there’s Dole Whip, Shave Ice, Plate Lunch, and more — ahead! Don’t forget to check out Aulani restaurant info and menus here.

Arriving to Aulani on October 15, my husband Kev and I selected familiar WDW items — refillable mugs! We purchased purple and blue refillable mugs, which have an Aulani design that matches the beige wallpaper in the halls of the hotel. Red and green options were also available.

Even though the mugs are more expensive at Aulani, we felt we got our money’s worth at $18.99 each over the week we were there.

‘Ama ‘Ama Restaurant at Aulani

We had dinner at Ama Ama — Kev’s salt crusted fish was like nothing we’d ever seen before, with a completely removable crust. He said it was very moist.

Salt Encrusted Fish from Ama Ama

I had the French Maui onion soup and a tomato and cheese salad (two appetizers instead of an entree). Both were excellent.

French Onion Soup and the Tomato Salad from Ama Ama

Makahiki Restaurant and Rip Swirl at Aulani

We had a character breakfast at Makahiki with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. I wasn’t as excited about the buffet as some at Disney World, but I did enjoy the dim sum and the fresh fruit in particular.

Makahiki with Mickey

Makahiki with Minnie

Makahiki with Goofy

Later in the day, we had frozen yogurt at Rip Swirl at Aulani. Mine was pineapple, which was good but not quite as good as Dole Whip. You get up to three toppings at no extra cost so I had coconut, macadamia nuts, and fresh pineapple.

Kev had chocolate with chocolate chips, coconut, and Mickey sprinkles.

Aulani Room Service Breakfast

Tuesday we splurged on room service. Other than when it was free aboard the Disney Dream, I’d never ordered room service in my life. But there weren’t a lot of breakfast options at Aulani (at least until Phase 2 opens).

When I spotted the peanut butter-banana stuffed, chocolate-milk dipped french toast with chicken sausage, there really wasn’t any question that this would be the first paid room service for me. Kev had a pre-set breakfast called the Healthy Start with yogurt and fresh fruit, banana smoothie, pumpkin pancakes, and a pot of tea. All of it was quite good. I ignored the bill so it wouldn’t ruin my appetite.

Healthy Start Breakfast, french toast and chicken sausage - room service

Shave Ice and Disney Ice Cream Treats at Aulani

We tried Disney’s Shave Ice location — nowhere near as good as Wailoa Shave Ice (reviewed below), which we were told was the best on the island — but decent. I think they were skimping on the syrup.

outside the Lava Shack -- love the Mickey-shaped ice cream sign

Disney's Shave Ice stand

Disney's Shave Ice

Friday was busy so we had Mickey ice cream treats from the Aulani store, which we needed because we didn’t have time for lunch.

Mickey Ice Cream Bar and Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich

Olelo Room at Aulani

On more than one morning, we had continental breakfast at the Olelo Room. One meal consisted of a muffin and frozen mocha for Kev plus a parfait of yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit for me.

Oleo Room

Oleo Room

One Paddle Two Paddle at Aulani

One dinner was from One Paddle Two Paddle, and we ate by the pool. My chicken came with taro chips. Kev’s fish tacos were good, and he had fries with them.

Service was slow that day (and when he got an Angus burger later in the trip) but the food was really fresh.

One Paddle Two Paddle Sign

Dole Plantation Off-Site

At the Dole Plantation, we saw pineapple growing and at last, I got my pineapple Dole Whip! We learned that Hala Kahiki means “foreign fruit”, which is what pineapple is called by Hawaiians.

Dole Whip from the Dole Plantation

Rainbow Drive-In, Waiola Shave Ice, and Leonard’s Bakery — Off-Site

The following day, we dined retro-style at the Rainbow Drive-In, which has been there about 50 years.

We had plate lunches. Kev had the most traditional Loco Moco, which is hamburger patty, gravy, potato/macaroni salad, and rice. I had boneless chicken. They were very good.

Rainbow Drive-In

Loco Moco and the Boneless Chicken Lunch Plates

But not as good as Wailoa Shave Ice! Recommended to us by the Aulani Concierge, it was fantastic. We each had the rainbow, which was vanilla, strawberry, and banana; but they had tons of flavors.

Wailoa Shave Ice

Wailoa Shave Ice

We picked up some malasadas (a kind of doughnut) at Leonard’s — also recommended by the concierge. It was just a few blocks away from Aulani. We ordered two original and two cinnamon.

Leonard's Bakery

Malasadas from Leonard's Bakery

Two Scoops Ice Cream Off-Site

Two Scoops Ice Cream is across the street from Aulani in Ko Olina Station. I had coconut macadamia nut ice cream with Hawaiian hot fudge, and Kev had banana fudge ice cream. Both were delicious!

menu board for Two Scoops Ice Cream - click image for larger version

Overall, it was a great trip, but people should definitely be willing to explore dining options outside of the resort when in Ko Olina!

What yummy treat looks scrumptious to you? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Lynne says

    Aloha! Great story, Beth!! I learned about some new foods. We’ll be doing the 14 day Disney cruise to Hawaii in Oct., and look forward to trying some of your suggestions! I have a non-food related question – where did you find your Mickey sign language t-shirt?! Would love to get one for a friend of mine.

  2. says

    The first picture, of the salt encrusted fish from Ama Ama… is it meant to look like something, or is it just a combination of the angle of the photo and my imagination? Because the first thing that I saw was a bit, er, macabre…

    Anyway though, great review!

    -long time reader, first time (I think) commenter

  3. says

    WineDineDivas — Agreed! That soup alone might get me out there!

    JoAnn — I’ve never had it! Will have to put it on the list.

    Lynne — You’re SO lucky! Can’t wait to hear about the trip!

    Kevin — Welcome to commenting and thanks for reading!! To me, that “crust” looks like a bread-type thing made to look like a fish that just sits around the actual fish. I have no idea, though.

  4. Anderson says

    This is making me miss Hawaii…especially the Loco Moco and Chicken Cutlet with gravy!

    Also, I think they meant the Olelo room, and Waiola shave ice.

  5. says

    Love your review, I will be visiting Aulani in 5 weeks. Thx for the help on restaurant choices on property & off! Dawn

  6. Ian says

    I second the question about the ASL Mickey shirt. My wife is deaf and is a HUGE Disney fan and I would love to get that shirt for her. Heck, I even want one.

    Where did you get it?

  7. Madoka says

    Where was the Leonard’s location you went to? We went to the Leonard’s stand in the parking lot of the Kmart a couple of freeway exits down but if there is a closer one just a couple blocks away I would love to know! :)

    I also recommend the country store in the Ko ‘Olina Station Shopping Center across from Aulani for snacks, sundries, and even some tasty prepared foods. Their spam musubi is excellent!

    Lastly, if you see a truck parked on the other side of the road as you are leaving the Ko ‘Olina area advertising ahi poke, stop and give them a try. You can get a nice pint of delicious, super fresh ahi poke in a variety of flavors for just $8.

  8. Gail says

    Leonard’s bakery is located in Kapahulu which is closer to Wakiki & is no where close to the Aulani. Closest Leonard’s bakery truck to Aulani would be the one located @ the Waikele shopping center, across the parking lot from Kmart.

    Another great place for shaved ice is @ a place called Shimazu’s store on N. School St. in Liliha. Whenever I pass there, there’s a loooooooong line.

  9. says

    Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa started the whole shave ice thing. Back in the 60’s, I remember my mom taking me over there after getting a haircut as my treat. Order with Ice Cream on the bottom or Azuka beans. Lychee, Li-hing-mui and Lilikoi (Passionfruit) are my favorite flavors.

  10. Beth says

    I read the blog via email so never thought to look here for comments. If anyone is still out there, the sign language Tshirt was purchased in the Magic Kingdom at least 10 years ago.Maybe 15. I get comments every time I wear it, which I tell Disney when I take surveys but they aren’t listening to me to bring it back!

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