Dinner at ‘Ohana

Today, my friends, we’re headed to Disney World’s Polynesian Resort to visit one of my favorite places — and yours — ‘Ohana. Those of you versed in Lilo and Stitch, or those of you who have been lucky enough to visit the beautiful islands of Hawai’i, know that “‘Ohana” means “Family,” and at this restaurant, they drive the point home.

Food is served family style, everyone in the restaurant — including you — are “cousins,” and the Hawaiian entertainment is aimed at bringing everyone together to participate in common activities. It’s a restaurant like none other in the Disney realm, and its high points are what keeps ‘Ohana a tough reservation to get.

Atmosphere
You’re greeted at ‘Ohana by “cousins” at the podium who take your name, give you a buzzer, and send you out into the Polynesian Resort to explore. Trust me, this is one of those rare restaurants where you hope you have 15-20 minutes to wait until you’re seated — there’s so much to do! Here are my favorite diversions while waiting for my buzzer to go off at ‘Ohana:

  • Have a Drink: Grab yourself a giant wicker chair in the Tambu Lounge just past the ‘Ohana podium. Knowledgeable bartenders and friendly servers will cater to your whims as you relax and wait for your table. (One of my favorites is the Lapu Lapu…a drink served IN a pineapple!)
  • Lapu Lapu

  • Listen to the Islands: ‘Ohana often provides a very talented [Read more…]

Disney World Rivalry: ‘Ohana Potatoes vs. Noodles

'Ohana Entry One thing that’s constant about Disney World is that it’s always changing, and that goes for restaurants as well. One in particular that can’t ever seem to maintain a dinner menu is the Polynesian Resort’s ‘Ohana. Over the many years I’ve been frequenting the World, ‘Ohana’s menu has been re-vamped at least four times.

I was there for the lazy susan with the fried rice. I was there for the pineapple with the caramel. I was there when they had the shrimp, and then they didn’t have the shrimp, and then they had the shrimp as an appetizer, and then they had the shrimp on the skewers again. I was there when the sausage came and went and came again, and when the chicken turned into turkey. Usually I just go with the flow. As long as I can get unlimited meat, I’m good to go.

But one of the recent changes was jarring. Nay…it was painful.

The loss of the scalloped potatoes.

RIP Scalloped Potatoes (photo courtesy Brett Young)

RIP Scalloped Potatoes (photo courtesy Brett Young)

In around 2005 (correct me if I’m wrong), a new sheriff (i.e. chef) came into town (i.e. ‘Ohana) and changed up the whole service of the restaurant. The lazy susan, on which appetizers had been served family style, was replaced with white ceramic bowls of food. The pineapple bread briefly went AWOL. There were suddenly fried wonton chips instead of dumplings. The pineapple and caramel was gone. It was a massacre.

But then the potatoes came.

It was as though the heavens had opened. I was a huge fan of scalloped potatoes — always had been — and these were incredible. ‘Ohana suddenly gained a permanent spot on my Priority Seating Arrangement list. We started requesting that they just bring two dishes of potatoes at the beginning of the meal, because we knew we’d polish them off.

So you can imagine our displeasure when, just about a year later, we arrived to find this instead of our beloved potatoes:

'Ohana Noodles

'Ohana Noodles

Inquiring as to the absence of our potatoes, our server made it very clear that 1.) She was tired of answering questions about the potatoes, and 2.) The reason was because the potatoes had trans fats, and the NON-trans-fats version the chef had tried was not as well liked as the original.

Now, she didn’t explicitly state that the disappearance of the potatoes was New York City’s fault, but we all know it is. Bloomberg and his team are clearly to blame for this abomination. Sigh.*

So, folks, I know that many of you actually prefer the noodles to the potatoes. And I, too, agree that they’re fine, and that we’ve been guilty of eating our fair share of the healthier dish. But every once in a while I miss that scrumptious, buttery (i.e. lard-y) bowl of starch and onions. Yes. Yes I do.

'Ohana Tiki

Let me know what you think about ‘Ohana’s changes — and about other dishes you miss at Disney World — by sending me a message or commenting on this blog post.

*Of course, in reality, I have no idea if this had anything to do with the decision. Or if the potatoes actually had trans fats. But it all made perfect sense at the time.

Potatoes photo courtesy @MrBrettYoung