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Guest Review: ‘Ama ‘Ama Lunch at Disney’s Aulani Resort

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.

Sign

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.

Off the Hook Decor

Off the Hook Seating

Off the Hook Bar Menu - click image for larger version

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.

Patron Silver Tequila, Agave Nectar, fresh Lime Juice with a half rim of Red 'Alaea Salt

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.

Old Lahaina Light Rum, Liliko'i (Passion Fruit), Agave Nectar, Mint, and fresh Lime Juice topped with Soda Water

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…)

View of the Pool

Atmosphere

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.

AmaAma Entryway

Stitch outside Ama Ama

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.

Ama Ama Decor

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.

AmaAma View

AmaAma View

Eats

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.

Lunch Menu - click image for larger version

Lunch Menu - click image for larger version

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.

Crispy Curried Chicken Firecracker with Mango Gastrique

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.

Kalua-roasted Pulled Pork Sandwich in Steamed Buns with a side of Sweet Potato Fries

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!

Ahi Nicoise Salad with Green Beans, White Anchovies, and Mustard Vinaigrette

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.

Hawaiian Chocolate Cake with Ka'u Coffee Cream and Caramel Chard

Overall

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.

Chocolate Cake with 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.

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9 Comments

  1. Jeff Kober says:

    Thanks for the review. We’ll definitely try it when we head there in April. I would be interested in knowing some of your other favorite places to eat in Hawaii, particularly in and around the North shore where we will be staying. Thanks!

  2. anderson says:

    @Jeff – Thanks! I don’t really frequent the North Shore all that much, but I know people love Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck (but I don’t eat seafood). I also like Ola at Turtle Bay Resort. The one place you NEED to eat at is Helena’s Hawaiian Food in Honolulu. It’s awesome!

    Thanks for posting this, AJ

  3. AJ says:

    @Anderson — I LOVED this post! While I don’t have any plans to get to Aulani soon (though my fingers are crossed for a September one-day visit), I definitely found some great items I can’t wait to try!

  4. Chloe Simmons says:

    Wow…Going to Hawaii in September (hopefully!) and can not wait to visit this resort. We used to live there and it seems that it has been well received by locals and tourists alike. AJ maybe we will be there on the same day in September!

    @Anderson…would love to know your other O’ahu fav’s. As a foodie some of my favorites are Alan Wongs, Roy’s, Breakfast Lunch Crab, Dukes, Giavanni’s (of course), Anna Millers (it’s a tradition), Zippy’s (best vegetarian chili in the world), Dee Lite Bakery, Ted’s Bakery, Agnes’ Bakery, Keo’s Thai, La Mariana for drinks, Goma Tei Ramen, Wailana Coffee House for Mac Nut Pancakes, Chuck’s Cellar, Shorebird for Mahi, Kona Brewing Co, Assaggio Italian, Keneke’s Plate Lunch. We are serious about food when visiting Hawai’i. I am a Poke lover and love the wasabi poke from Sam’s club. We stay a few days in Waikiki and a few days at Bellow AFS near Waimanalo. We will definatley try Helena’s next time!

  5. Anderson says:

    @Chloe: I definitely have some favorites, though almost all of them are associated with specific food items. Spices for Thai food. Youngs Kal Bee, Aiea for Meat Jun and Korean. Wailana Coffee House for Pancakes. MitsuKen Okazuya for Bentos and Garlic Chicken. Diamond Head Bakery for Scones. Nico’s at Pier 38 for Loco Moco. Aiea Manapua and Snack for Manapua/Dim Sum. Chun Wah Kam for huge Panda Express style chinese food (but much better). Teddy’s Bigger Burger for Burgers.

    I can’t believe I forgot Ted’s for amazing Pies. . I’m a bad Hawaiian, who hates seafood, so Poke is out of the question for me. I have never been to Alan Wong’s but it’s on my bucket list. But you DEFINITELY need to go to Helena’s…way better than Ono’s or Highway Inn.

  6. Mark Hickson says:

    My wife and I will be dining at Aulani’s buffet “Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands” this Saturday. I hope to share the experience with DFB soon!

  7. lynne says:

    Thanks for the detailed review! Can’t wait to visit Aulani, hopefully next year!

  8. Krizia says:

    I spent a good 10 days in Oahu this January and was happy to say 2 of them were spent at the Aulani resort. My fiance ordered the pork sliders (which I loved! the kimchee was my fav and the fries I still remember!), and I ordered the lunch plate special (which was very, very tasty).

    Thank you for this post. It really makes me cherish the time I had there and makes me hope to visit again soon! You are so lucky to have such a generous mom! ^_^

  9. AJ says:

    @Jeff @Anderson @Chloe I’m loving the Oahu suggestions for meals!! Now, somebody’s got to let me know their favorites on Kauai!

    @Mark — Can’t wait to hear all about your dinner!

    @Krizia and @Lynne Thank YOU for these great comments!

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