*This is a guest post from writer Emily Clay. Make sure to check out her bio at the bottom of the article and leave her a comment.
I am a creature of habit. Despite many trips to Walt Disney World, I haven’t been to every restaurant or tried all of the snacks. While making a list of all possible eateries for friends planning their first trip, I realized that I hadn’t tried quite a number of places. I decided to make it a point to dine at one or two new restaurants per trip from then on.
One of my new selections this past trip was Kona Café in the Polynesian Village Resort. I had walked by it several times on my way to Ohana, but never experienced it beyond looking at diners as I passed. The restaurant is on the second floor of the resort, very close to Ohana and Tambu Lounge. A few tables are separated from the lobby area by a low barrier.
I arrived for lunch a few minutes early for my reservation and was seated immediately. Upon browsing the menu, I realized that I didn’t actually like too much on offer. I looked at a few entrees then finally chose to order two appetizers instead.
The first to come out was my adventurous choice. I tend to stick to things I know and this was pretty far from my usual. The steamed pork buns include cider-braised pork, spicy Hoisin sauce, and Granny apple slaw with roasted brown rice vinaigrette. The cider and vinaigrette gave these a tangy flavor, but it was not overpowering. The buns were soft and warm. These come with a lot of filling, so I ended up eating some of the pork off first by itself. I did not grow up eating pork, but I liked the flavor. It was similar to a barbecue taste, but adding the apple slaw to my bites made a world of difference. The sweetness of the apples balanced the acidity and sour flavor of the pork and sauces. Finding the right ratio of each component was key to my enjoyment of this plate. I liked it much more than I thought I would.
The California Luau sushi roll was my safe choice. It was nicely prepared and fresh. There is a generous amount of crabmeat. The Kona Café version of this roll includes pineapple. I happen to think that pineapple and crustacean go together very well, allowing the sugars of the pineapple to counteract the seafood’s saltiness. A small dip in soy sauce produced a delicious bite. I would order this again, but the quality of this roll increased my confidence in Kona’s ability to create tasty specialty sushi. I have a few other rolls from their menu on my list for next time.
The Kilauea Torte always receives positive reviews and I was excited to try it. It is a chocolate lava cake served with whipped cream and raspberries. I ignored the raspberries and ate the whipped cream, which was likely made fresh in-house. It was light and sweet and I licked it off my fork without putting any on my cake. Cutting into the cake exposed the liquid chocolate center. The best way to describe it is chocolate-y. Obviously a chocolate dessert will have a chocolate flavor, but this was overwhelming and not as sweet as I would have liked. It’s dense and rich and I wished I’d saved some whipped cream to cut the heaviness a bit. I ate about half of it before giving up. I would recommend ordering this to split with someone. Next time, I plan on trying something more unique, like the tea-infused cheesecake. Now that I’ve tried their signature dessert, I won’t mind picking something else.
Before my dessert came, I spilled my drink all over the table, my phone, and on my purse. Service was excellent throughout my meal, but my server was especially helpful during this incident. He came over with napkins, cleaned up, and brought me a new drink within a couple of minutes.
The savory offerings at Kona Café were wonderful and I look forward to trying more of their food on another visit. Dessert was too heavy for me, but I can see the appeal of it as a chocolate dessert. I plan on returning to sample other menu items in the future.
Emily escapes the craziness of New York with her trips to Disney World. She always keeps some part of the magic with her by carrying a Disney bag or wearing a stack of Disney Alex and Ani bracelets. She travels to Disney World for at least two weeks every year and hopes to make it over to Disneyland and the international locations sometime soon. She is currently facing the challenge of finding a new favorite Disney snack, which were the sweet cream cheese-filled pretzel at Launching Pad and the chocolate-covered pretzel rods from Goofy’s Candy Co.