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Guest Review: Kona Café Dinner at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Let’s travel to Disney’s Polynesian Resort for dinner at the Kona Café with guest author Katie Roth. We love the flavors from the south seas at this Walt Disney World restaurant!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have stayed at the Polynesian multiple times and have never eaten at Kona Café! Until now, I always admired its colorful decorations and festive atmosphere from afar on my way to the monorail.

After eating here, we are THRILLED that we made the decision to try it. I’m pretty sure this restaurant is going to be a staple for our trips now.

Kona Cafe Sign.

Atmosphere

Kona Café is located on the upper terrace of the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian resort. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to miss. The colors are vibrant and the decibel level is pretty high compared to other restaurants. (It didn’t seem as loud once we were inside the restaurant though; the sound from the lobby probably amplifies noise coming from the restaurant to any passerby.)

Kona Cafe Dining Room.

Once inside the restaurant, it’s even brighter and cheerier! Everything screams tropics here, from the carpets (see below) to the adorned ceilings. (Editor’s Note: Check out the Hidden Mickey in the carpet!)

Tropical Carpet with HIdden Mickey!

Eats

Once our waitress took our order, we were treated to Kona Café’s complimentary Sweet Bread and Macadamia nut butter.

Admittedly, this bread looks very unassuming. (Be honest, its shape is beckoning you to chuck it like a football rather than to eat it.) But the bread was sweet and buttery and we thought it tasted more like a dessert than a starter.

The butter was very tasty with honey ribbons and huge macadamia chunks in it. My husband loved it so much that he wanted to stash the rest of the loaf in my purse for the parks after our meal!

Sweet Bread and Macadamia nut butter.

Every time I have visited the Polynesian Resort, I have wanted to try the California Luau Roll. What’s special about this particular California roll is that it has fresh pineapple instead of cucumber in it.

We ordered it as an appetizer to our meal, even though this serving could have been a full meal. The ingredients were incredibly fresh and it tasted great. There was a lot more crab in this roll than I’m used to seeing in other California rolls.

In my opinion, the flavor of the pineapple did not come out as much as I thought it would. We weren’t able to finish all of this – it was just too big!

California Luau Roll.

For his entrée, my husband ordered the Pan-Asian Noodles with Shrimp. Wow, this dish was absolutely gorgeous! It was almost as colorful as the restaurant.

These noodles are a great option for someone who is hesitant about Polynesian flavors; it wasn’t too strong. It was packed full of crispy steamed veggies, perfectly cooked shrimp, and a light sauce that had a great balance of garlic and ginger.

Pan-Asian Noodles with Shrimp.

For my entrée, I decided to order the Sesame Seared Sea Scallops. Nowadays, any time there are scallops on the menu I have to order them!

To be frank, I was really disappointed that I only got 3 scallops. The minimal amount of scallops was served with rice, wakami salad, and tarragon-champagne beurre blanc. The scallops themselves were cooked per-fect-ly. The seasoning was peppery but still allowed the taste of the scallops to shine through.

I mixed all of the sides together to create a salad – the mixture wasn’t overly flavorful, but was a nice compliment to the scallops. I should be happy that my entrée was small since we had two desserts coming out!

Sesame Seared Sea Scallops.

One of our desserts was the chocolate fondue accompanied by fresh fruit, coconut macaroons, and peanut brittle. The fondue itself was super rich and reminded me of melted chocolate chips.

This dessert was good with all of its chocolate glory, but it wasn’t terribly interesting.

Chocolate fondue accompanied by fresh fruit, coconut macaroons, and peanut brittle.

Our second dessert was the Banana Chocolate Crème Brulee. The presentation of this dessert was contemporary and fabulous. The taste, as odd as this will sound, reminded me of a burnt campfire marshmallow. (I love burnt campfire marshmallows.)

The only time that I tasted banana was when I took a bite of the crème brulee with some of the caramelized banana that it was served with. My husband didn’t really care for this, but I loved it!

Banana Chocolate Crème Brulee.

Overall

Overall, we loved Kona Café! The atmosphere was fun, the service was friendly, and the food was amazing. We will definitely be returning. Next time, I’m ordering the Pan-Asian Noodles!!

Katie works full-time as an engineer in Ohio and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in mechanical engineering through Purdue University. Katie and her husband absolutely love everything Disney and try to work that special brand of magic into every aspect of their life including visiting Walt Disney World multiple times per year.

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21 Comments

  1. Jacky says:

    This is hands down my favorite restaurant at WDW. Every time we visit (which is every other month) I make reservation to eat at Kona. All the food their is delicious! The potstickers and chicken wings for appetizers are the same as O’hana. The steak is the best I’ve had in a long time. I always end up ordering it. I’m so glad I was able to see a picture of the California Luau roll and a review…definitely going to try it when I go in September!

  2. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this review! After failing to secure a reservation at ‘Ohana, this is my back up. I’m looking forward to it! (Also, I’m going to be brave and try to ask for the ‘Ohana bread pudding for dessert, because I’ve ‘heard’ you can request it at dinner as they both share the same kitchen. We will see!)

  3. Sabrina says:

    By all means, people, if you are there, try the Coconut and Almond Chicken! It is divine! And then go for the obvious Kona Kone as dessert, it just cheeres you up :)

  4. William Wells says:

    Yes, now we are talking. Last time I stayed at the poly, I ate at ‘Ohnas and Kona Cafe. I liked the Cafe better. ‘Ohana was Character Breakfast. No Mickey. This wasyears before Lilo and Stitch.
    But next year…..Kona Cafe and Kona Kone and Little Stitch.

  5. Wendy says:

    Kona Cafe is one of my absolute favorites! Granted, the dish I used to get is no longer served :\ RIP ginger-crusted ribeye… but I’ll have to try the new steak they have now. Or the coffee rubbed pork chops – yum!

    But the MAIN reason I STILL go back… that bread and butter!! My mother and I had been for dinner several times, always devouring the bread. Then we went for lunch for the first time and no bread was served :\ I asked our waiter about it and she ended up bringing us some anyway, even though it didn’t seem it was typically served at lunch. YUMM.

  6. Laura says:

    We ate at Kona on a whim last year and ended up going back and back and back. We absolutely loved it, the flavours are incredible and the bread is to die for – we’ve made it so many times at home now! I can’t wait for our next visit!

  7. Tracy says:

    Kona Café is my favorite place in WDW. This is are #1 restaurant on list of reservations. We love the Sticky Wings, Fresh Sushi & Steak. Delicious meals every time. Highly recommend Kona Café. Kudos to the staff, we were there this past May, & there was a very unhappy guest. We were right next to them, so we heard every word. The staff/cooks did nothing wrong, I think the guest was just having a bad day. To defuse the situation, the manager came over & calmly spoke to the unhappy guest, maybe sprinkled a little pixy dust & guest was fine after that. Great job, & we will be back in Oct. Can’t wait!!!

  8. Nicole says:

    I LOVE the Kona Cafe. I always get the Asian noodles because they do a vegetarian option but let’s be honest, it’s filler between the bread and the dessert. Dessert there is the best dessert anywhere. Pineapple upside down cake: delicious. Kona cone: delicious. Creme brulee: amazing. I could go there and just eat dessert.
    I might be staying there in January for a week just so I can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner…

  9. Jill D says:

    we too love Kona, but it is unfortunate that on a recent trip we had a bad waiter experience and it has soured us to the place. perhaps in the future we will give it another try, the food is very good and the bread and butter is the star!

  10. Jessica says:

    Kona is one of my favorites at WDW! I loved your review and could completely relate to the love of their bread and butter and wanting to bring it home with you.
    Katie, next time, you MUST try the sticky wings. They are AMAZING. I always make sure to order them when I visit Kona (which is just about every time I go to WDW).

  11. Leslie says:

    My husband and I went to Kona last year based on all the rave reviews, and I got the steak that everyone said was great. Our server not rude, but not the typical Disney friendly at all and our food was OK at best – certainly not worth the $70 price tag. I feel like everyone else loves this place and so will have to give it another try, if nothing else than at the sushi bar, which did look neat.

  12. Katie Roth says:

    Jessica – I will definitely try the sticky wings in November!!! Thanks for the tip ;)

  13. Charles says:

    Maybe I missed it, but in the discussion of the “only got three scallops” I didn’t notice a price mentioned. If it was $15 then it’s a great deal, but if it was $28 it was robbery. It’s always nice to see Portion Size vs. Price included the reviews so we can better judge the value received.

  14. Sherri Erwin says:

    I’ve been very underwhelmed with Kona Cafe. The atmosphere doesn’t win me over. Our service has never been good. Last time, the noodles were very bland and my son’s steak was charred beyond recognition. After giving it a few tries, we have given up on it. But the wings are good. We just get the version at Tambu Lounge now instead.

  15. Galloping Gourmand says:

    @Charles – the Scallops are $18.99 and, along with the noodles above and a chicken dish, one of three options under $20. Not a bargain, not robbery. I think it’s priced appropriately.

    I’ve never had a disappointing meal at Kona, but the’ve never knocked my socks off either. I think it’s a great place for moderately quick and reasonably priced food.

    Finally, I think the place where Kona sets itself apart is the presentation of the food. It always looks lovely but not fussy.

  16. Jane Cotton says:

    I think Kona is the best at lunch and/or breakfast. I think their dinner options are okay, but kind of underwhelming compared to the other choices in the area – resort & park. The bread is amazing, but when that’s the best thing you can say…it’s kind of like the soup and bread at Le Cellier – do it once, but it’s not a must do every trip.

    I LOVE the pork tacos for lunch and the Samoan for breakfast. Both meals offer things that can’t be had elsewhere and are definitely worth it – even without the bread.

  17. Chris says:

    I just came back from Disney and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by Kona. My entire family went to Disney, but they wanted to try O’hana, while my husband and I went to Kona. Our waitress was a total rockstar! She was extremely helpful. She went over the entire menu with us since we were new to the restaurant. She didn’t pressure us about anything and she gave us her opinion on which were the best meals. My husband and I both settled on the lamb chops and they were amazing. Perfectly grilled and juicy. I want them again! The rest of my family didn’t do as well. They all said the food at O’hana was very over-cooked and greasy. Next time, I’m sure we will all be eating together at Kona.

  18. michelle says:

    Kona was our go-to place for dinner. But on our last trip in May we were totally disappointed. The coconut almond chicken mentioned in another comment is no longer on the menu and actually there is NO boneless chicken on the menu at all!!! Very hard to find something for a picky eater especially a pre-teen who is an adult in the eye of Disney. Our steaks were also not on-par with previous trips and the KONA Kone dessert is different and smaller than it had been in the past. Used to be our favorite meal, now I am not sure we will go back.

  19. Lana says:

    Last summer we ended up trying Kona on a whim. I have been back at least once every trip (4) since and I’ve already booked for breakfast & dinner during my September and November trips! I love this place! The coffee rubbed pork chops are amazing! I thoroughly enjoy the chocolate fondue for dessert! The fruit is so fresh and juicy and the chocolate is wonderful! The crab cakes and pot stickers are really good as well! And don’t get me started on the bread and butter! My mouth is watering now just thinking about it…

  20. Jacky says:

    Kona replaced the coconut almond chicken to a pan seared chicken. I ate there in May and July and it was on the menu.

  21. denise cote says:

    We vacationed in Disney in December of 2013. The one place that I HAVE to go to eat when we are there is the Kona Café at the Polynesian. Since 1982, I have been going there on trips for breakfast just to have the tonga. One of my daughters just absolutely loves it and so I order it every time we go now. One year the chef came up to our table and gave us the recipe for it. It was for 10 people but you can narrow that down. Can’t wait for my next trip to try the steak for dinner. Thanks for that tip.

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