Guest author Aaron Crum returns with a review of the Kona Cafe. Let’s join him now for dinner where he shares some great eats and exciting news (Congrats!!) at this Polynesian Resort restaurant in Walt Disney World. Pass the bread, please!
For those of us who frequent Walt’s playground, we know that there are endless possibilities when it comes to dining. Each trip usually requires a new adventure or a new experience.
However, every now and then, you find a “diamond in the rough” (yes, Aladdin pun intended). With that being said, I find myself booking at least one meal every trip at Kona Café. This well-kept secret inside Disney’s Polynesian resort is, in my opinion, one of your “Disney Must-Do’s” (you know, that little park infomercial that is on a constant loop in your hotel room?).
Kona Café is on the second floor of the lobby in Disney’s Polynesian resort. And upon entering, you find yourself quickly transported to a tropical oasis. The foliage from the lobby is ever-present and really leads you to believe you are no longer in central Florida.
There is hardly a “waiting area” specifically designed for Kona; rather, it shares a waiting space with ’Ohana. While Kona often gets busy, you can sometimes dine there without the expense of an advance dining reservation. In fact, we were there celebrating a special occasion (I will elaborate!) and we were told by the manager that they keep several time slots open in order to accommodate walk-in guests.
Let’s get to the good stuff, the FOOD!
First to the table is a loaf of bread, accompanied by a side of macadamia nut butter. The bread was light and fluffy — you know, the kind of bread where you can eat a whole loaf by yourself and not even realize it (I can neither confirm nor deny that I did this!)? But what really tops this is the butter.
The butter is whipped, but has that distinct taste of the macadamia; and that stands out due to the fact they add sea salt crystals to enhance the flavor.
As if the bread wasn’t enough to get us started, we order several appetizers to pass around the table. They consisted of Sticky Wings for Two, Lump Crab Cakes, and Pot Stickers.
When they set the plate down that held the Sticky Wings, I remarked that they should change the name to “Sticky Wings for several.” They didn’t skimp on the portion size, and that became a theme throughout the course of the meal!
The wings were HUGE and looked just as good as they tasted. I hate it when you are faced with that enigma — you know, the dish looks too pretty to eat, but your mouth is watering just looking at it!
The glaze was sweet, almost like a barbeque sauce laced with brown sugar; you folks in the south know what I am talking about. But the tanginess of the mustard drizzle was an awesome compliment to the dish. I know AJ loves her wings, and who doesn’t really, so do yourself a huge favor and get these next time you visit!
The lump crab cakes were sat down on the table next. And just judging by the appearance, they looked dry and flaky. I was WRONG.
When you visit most restaurants, except for ones on the coast, you end up getting more bread binding than crab. This was the opposite, there was far more crab than anything in this dish.
The cake did tend to fall apart, but that was due in fact to not having enough binding to hold the crab meat together. Not a bad problem to have if you ask me.
The last appetizers to hit the table were the pot stickers. Now, let me be transparent, I am not a big pot stickers fan, but several at our table were. So I will give you their feedback: best Pot Stickers on the property.
The sauce was incredible and again, there was no skimping on the filling. I tried a bite just for good measure, and yeah, still not a real big fan. But I am not a good judge, so take it from the ones that are experts — these are some GREAT Pot Stickers!!
Main course, and there wasn’t too much surprise here for our group. All but one of us ordered the Teriyaki-style New York Strip; it’s why we go to Kona. However, one of us ventured out and ordered the Tuna Oscar (it wasn’t me).
Listen people, believe it or not, Kona has moved into the domain of one of the best steaks in all of Disney. I know everyone wants to debate about Le Cellier or Yachtsman’s, and not to take anything away from them, but Kona is usually over-looked and under-valued as it pertains to steaks.
Always cooked to perfection, the sweetness of the teriyaki glaze and the pineapple offset the saltiness of the steak. The broccolini adds to the savoryness of the dish. The problem a lot of places run into with stir-fried broccolini is that they tend to over/under cook it. It either comes out cold and crunchy, or warm and soft. Not the case here, fresh, crisp and seasoned well! The potatoes were great as well. But for me, the winners are always the steak and broccolini on this dish!
The Tuna Oscar was an interesting dish. It looked awesome, and according to its diner tasted great. Everything was served hot and fresh. The crab that topped the Tuna was a pleasant surprise — jumbo lump meat and full of flavor.
The tuna itself is prepared rare, and if you like tuna, it doesn’t disappoint. This isn’t your standard can of “Chicken of the Sea;” this is a seared Tuna steak, cooked to perfection. And the southern delicacy that is fried green tomatoes provided that crunch to the dish that the seared tuna lacked.
So, onto the special occasion I mentioned earlier! You see, my wife and I are expecting our first child this year. Our family who dined with us was under the impression we didn’t know the sex of our baby. Well, that wasn’t entirely the truth.
In fact, we were using this night to tell them our great news. We had stopped by Kona Café earlier in the week by ourselves and asked to speak to a manager. We explained to her what we were doing and wanted to put something together. This was her response, “This is awesome! Can I have your cell phone number? If we have any questions we will call you, otherwise, we will take it from here!” And that was that.
So the whole meal, we were waiting for a big reveal. The waiter offered to bring us dessert menus, and instead, arriving at our table was this beautiful cupcake accompanied by smaller cupcakes for each person in our party to enjoy.
We each received pink leis to commemorate the occasion and the manager came by to offer her congratulations. We pulled her aside and thanked her for this moment and proceeded to hand her a token of our appreciation. She absolutely refused to take it, and commented that “it was payment enough to be a part of this special occasion.”
So when people ask why you love Disney — this is why Disney is so great and this is why eating at Disney restaurants is just as exciting as visiting the parks. Any ordinary dining experience can turn into something extraordinary!!
Have you enjoyed the Kona Cafe as a walk-in? Tell us your favorite meal at Kona Cafe!