Aloha to guest author Anderson Dun! A native of Hawai’i currently living in Arizona, he brings us a delicious review of ‘Ama ‘Ama at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawai’i. Let’s hear it from an expert!
While I didn’t have a chance to stay there, I just knew that I had to visit the Disney resort and have a meal there during my trip home to Hawai’i. I thought about eating at Makahiki buffet, but after reading some good reviews of lunch at ‘Ama ‘Ama, I decided to try it out.
Pre-Lunch Visit to Off the Hook Pool Bar
When we first arrived at 11:10 AM, my mom and I were told that they were closed and didn’t have any openings until 12:45 PM. I was a bit surprised, but we took the time to wander about the resort.
The first thing we did was head next door to the Off the Hook Pool Bar. The pool bar is right next to the restaurant and offers food and drinks, but of course, we were just there for the drinks.
It is a little thatched roofed, open air hut with a good number of seats and tables.
My mom decided on the ‘Alaea-rita and really enjoyed it. I had a taste of it as well, and thought it was very refreshing. ‘Alaea refers to the pink sea salt used to rim the glass. Other than that, it was really your standard margarita.
I decided on the Liliko’i Mojito. Let me preface this by saying that I rarely drink alcohol, but decided to try it. For me, it tasted a bit too strongly of rum. It was sweet, but I couldn’t really detect very much Liliko’i, or even lime or mint for that matter. The drinks will run you $9 to $10.
Even with tons of kids splashing around, it was still quite relaxing to be able to sit poolside with a drink. (Although I’ll admit that all I wanted to do was to jump in that pool. Maybe someday…)
After doing some shopping at the gift store and meandering about the resort property, we headed back to ‘Ama’Ama at around 12:15 to see if they could seat us. Fortunately, they were able to take us to a table right away.
Unlike the rest of Aulani, some of which I find to be fun but over-the-top, the restaurant is decorated minimally. The design is another open-air, thatched-roof hut, while the blue murals on the walls mimic the ocean. I found the entire setting calm and relaxing.
Of course, it’s really all about the view. Now, while it is beach side, the restaurant is not right next to the ocean’s edge. But who cares? The view of the beach is amazing.
One of the reasons that I decided to eat lunch here was because the prices were much more affordable than dinner. Not cheap, mind you, but still reasonable for a nice resort/hotel restaurant.
I will say that the service was wonderful and attentive — that is, until dessert. Then it seemed like they stopped paying attention to us, taking a good amount of time for us to get refills and the check. Still, they were very friendly.
My mom and I decided to share an appetizer and chose the Crispy Curried Chicken Firecracker with Mango Gastrique. When it came out, we were surprised to see it was sort of like a coconut chicken curry spring roll. It was absolutely delicious. The chicken filling was flavorful while the mango gastrique served as a nice counter to the slight spiciness.
For my entree, I ordered the Kalua-roasted Pulled Pork Sandwich. “Kalua” means “the pit,” referring to the method by which pork was traditionally cooked.
Now, having had lots of kalua pig when I grew up in Hawai’i, I can say that this pork was good, not great. It was a bit under-seasoned for my taste; however, what made the dish great were the Chinese steamed buns and the different toppings for each little slider.
From left to right, the tiny buns were topped with pickled onions, kim chee, and chopped lomi tomato (“lomi” means massage, so the tomatoes are “massaged,” or rather, chopped finely with onions). They each provided a nice surprise to accompany the roast pork flavor. The sweet potato fries were also very good.
My mom ordered the Ahi Nicoise Salad. She said the salad was “so good,” in her own words. She especially loved the tuna, even though she rarely eats rare seared tuna — she usually eats it completely raw or completely cooked from the can. I didn’t try any of her salad, but it seriously looked fresh and appetizing, and I don’t even eat fish!
After our entrees, we had saved room for dessert. Well, to be honest, we ALWAYS have room for dessert.
Though we were intrigued by the Floating Island, we opted for the Chocolate Cake. The presentation was absolutely beautiful, and this was delicious.
I guess I’m not used to fancy desserts, because this was more like a thick mousse in the shape of a cake. But the coffee cream perfectly complimented the chocolate flavor.
Every time I visit home in Hawai’i, I make a list of favorite places that I must eat…local Hawai’i food that I can’t find anywhere else. And even with the many great meals at my old favorites, my lunch at ‘Ama’Ama still was one of the most memorable meals. In fact, it was probably one of the best Disney Dining Experiences I have ever had. (It helped that my mom footed the bill, too).
The food and the view were great, each with the perfect touch of Hawaii. The price was not too bad for lunch, either. Next time I visit Hawai’i, I definitely plan on adding ‘Ama’Ama to my list.
And seriously, just look at that view.
Is Disney’s Aulani Resort on your vacation wish list?? Let us know in the comments below!
Anderson Dun works in higher education as an academic advisor in Flagstaff, AZ. Though this is his 7th year in Arizona, he still considers Hawaii home. He is an avid Disney fan and foodie, and loves to take frequent road trips to Disneyland.