Disney Dining Review: Dinner review of the Kona Cafe/Island
Do you know what I love about Disney? Everything. Now that we have that understanding between us…I love eating at Disney even more. Over the summer, the crowds can become a little intense. So, why not travel away from the parks? I know, I know! Just hear me out and read the rest of this review and I’ll have you convinced to leave the magic of the parks behind (for dinner)!
One of the most beautiful resorts on Disney World property is Disney’s Polynesian Resort. An original resort from 1971, the Polynesian has a following of die-hard fans that return yearly and some that are waiting patiently to buy Disney Vacation Club when the Poly is added to the collection. (There have been rumors for years, but the latest addition was the Villas at the Grand Floridian opening later this year, much to the disappointment of the Poly-hards)
Upon entering the main lobby in the building known as The Great Ceremonial House, you will be in awe of the beautiful waterfalls and lush decorations. You might even be rewarded with an “Aloha!” and lei just for walking in! On the ground floor, you will delight in the large souvenir shop, art gallery, arcade and quick service location, Captain Hook’s. Just a quick walk outside will take you to Disney’sSpiritofAlohaDinnerShow at Luau Cove. On the second floor, there is another store, a snack shop, the extremely popular family style restaurant ‘Ohana, the monorail landing for a quick visit to the Magic Kingdom and the star of this review, The Kona Café.
With the popularity of ‘Ohana ,The Kona Café sometimes gets looked over. Maybe it is because vacationers prefer a family style restaurant where you can eat all you like that is literally steps away. Or, it may be that The Kona Café has such a delicious breakfast selection that some just don’t think about lunch or dinner. But, of all the restaurant selections at the Poly, The Kona Café is my first choice every time!
The flavor of the Kona Café is Asian Inspired, with delicious selections for even the pickiest eaters. I have also found that The Kona Café is usually available for seating within an hour without reservations (parties of 4 or under), but reservations at all table service restaurants are highly advised, especially during the busier times of year. A feature the Kona Café has that many other restaurants do not have is a first come first serve Sushi Bar (you can also order off the dinner menu) AND a row of high-top chairs along the table topped window looking out onto the monorail landing. This is a nice feature for last minute decisions!
Start your dinner with selections like Lump Crab Cakes with Jalapeno-Lime cream ($11.49) or the house favorite, Sticky Wings (glazed chicken wings with tangy mustard drizzle and toasted sesame seeds, $8.99). My personal recommendation is the Pot Stickers (pork and vegetable filled dumplings with a creamy soy-ginger sauce, $7.49). When these 4 delicious slices of heaven reach your table, make the wise decision not to share with loved ones. They should be enjoyed with your eyes closed so that your mouth can experience the flavor more. Yes, they are that good.
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Moving on to the main course will have you deciding between delights like Grilled Kona Coffee-rubbed Pork Chop with Spring Vegetable Bread Pudding and Apple Jack Sauce ($21.99). While dining, I noticed that about 75% of the tables had this entrée on them. My husband is obsessed with the Pan-seared Duck Breast served with Mung, Adzuki, and Cranberry Beans with Chorizo Sausage and Spinach in a Tamarind Gastrique ($21.99) One of the best features of dining at Disney is that it is very hard to find these types of offerings at a local restaurant. Try something new and different! My husband often brings up the succulent Duck breast when we are at home eating crock put chicken! Where would I even begin with a tamarind gastrique? My personal favorite is the Sesame Seared Sea Scallops with Rice, Wakami Salad, and Tarragon-Champagne Beurre Blanc( $18.99). The four oversized scallops are perfectly cooked and the tarragon-champagne beurre blanc is so rich and delicious, you may never want to leave The Kona Café. If I could, I would beurre blanc every single meal!
Finishing touches might include Banana-Chocolate Crème Brûlée with a Chocolate Spiral ($5.99), Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Lemon Grass and Caramel Sauces ($5.99) or Kilauea Torte: An explosion of warm liquid Chocolate inside Chocolate Volcano ($5.49). Even though it seems simple, my favorite is the Kona Kone ($6.49). Basically it is an ice cream cone on steroids…served in a giant waffle cone with mickey sprinkles, chocolate sauce, chocolate candies and COTTON CANDY.
After your delicious dinner, The Polynesian Resort offers beautiful walking trails to burn off some calories. You may even find the beautiful “beach” complete with swings where you can catch the fireworks from the parks or the Electrical Water Pageant. Just check times! I highly recommend The Kona Café and trust me, it is well worth the drive or bus ride from wherever you may be on WDW property!
Food: Asian inspired fresh, fun food with a sushi bar! Delicious selections and reasonably (Well, Disney reasonably) priced. You will think you are eating items you would expect might be on a signature dining menu.
Atmosphere: Large seating area, but open. No walls can sometimes result in lobby/shopping noise. Can go from empty to packed in moments, large parties are welcome. Décor is simple and dark. Ask your server for a flashlight for your menus if you need to! The Polynesian Resort also offers many shopping and entertainment options for before or after dinner.
Service: Many of the servers have been here for years providing extensive menu expertise. Most servers will also offer suggestions that are not on the menu if you are dining with a picky eater. If you don’t know what you want, ask! Food runners work nightly for quicker service. Dinner can be served within seconds of your appetizers being cleared, so if you want extra sitting time, ask. Servers can have larger stations, so service might be slower during peak times.
Tips: Make an advanced reservation! You can get a table most nights if you walk in during non- peak hours (large parties may not be so lucky!) The Disney Dining Plan is accepted and will use one credit per person. Well worth the credit!