*This post contains dining reviews took place in November and December 2019. It includes information about gluten free options, in addition to dairy free, fish/shellfish free, cabbage free, peanut free, hazelnut free, and chicken & turkey free options.
Dinner at Kona Cafe
Kona Cafe, located in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, is one of our favorite go-to spots for an affordable dinner on Disney property. Brandon and I really enjoy the pan-Asian flavors highlighted in the meals at Kona. Recently, we had dinner at Kona on a few occasions — once with a friend who’d never been before and once with my family who were at Disney World on vacation.
Kona Cafe is a true lobby restaurant, located on the second floor of the Polynesian Village resort’s main building and lobby area.
With an open-air concept, you can actually view guests walking by and see the monorail entrance, as well.
Kona Cafe has bright colors and lots of Polynesian touches, though as I’ve mentioned in several reviews, I do think the restaurant could use a refurb. I feel like the decor is a bit stuck in the late 1990s as far as color scheme and patterns.
As you can see from the photos here, the restaurant is quite spacious, with lots of different types of seating. On our second visit, we were one of the last tables in the restaurant for the night, and I was able to get a few rare photos of the restaurant virtually empty.
Like most Disney owned restaurants, Kona Cafe does carry an allergy-friendly menu. In addition to this, guests can also speak to a chef directly about questions, modifications, and other special dietary needs.
On both visits, our servers brought Brandon and I allergy-friendly rolls, which are Deanna’s Gluten Free brand. These are both gluten free and dairy free. I have also been served both regular dairy-filled butter and Earth Balance vegan buttery spread. The Earth Balance is available upon request. Lately, Kona Cafe has been hit or miss on how well these rolls have been heated. Sometimes they’re great and other times they are not.
On our first visit, I was determined to try something different because I often get sushi or a sandwich there. Based on the recommendation of our server, I ordered the Asian-Marinated Airline Chicken with Sticky Rice, and Bok Choy. It was supposed to come with an Asian glaze, but I was told the glaze contains gluten, so I was brought gluten free soy sauce on the side. This dish was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies.
Of all the dishes I’ve had at Kona Cafe, this was my LEAST favorite dish. Not only was the chicken fairly bland, but the portion was oddly small. It doesn’t look as small in this photo, but when it was brought to the table everyone started laughing because it was served on a large plate and looked even tinier. I would definitely avoid this dish and can’t recommend it to anyone who visits Kona.
On our second visit, I had the Beef Pho. This was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies. Overall, I really enjoyed this dish, though I wouldn’t say it’s the best pho I’ve ever had.
The beef was extremely tender and flavorful, and I really enjoyed the vegetables in the dish. The weakest spot of the dish was the broth — something that should be spot on for pho. It had a good amount of seasoning, but there was just something lacking in it. It wasn’t bad enough that I wouldn’t get it again. But, it also wouldn’t be at the top of my list for gluten free dishes served at Kona.
On both visits, Brandon ordered the Pork Belly Noodle Bowl. This dish is marked safe for Fish/Shellfish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies on the menu, and with some modifications (including swapping the bone broth out for vegetable broth) it was also cabbage free and chicken & turkey free.
This continues to be one of Brandon’s most favorite dishes at Kona. He absolutely loves the pork belly and says the flavor combinations are always outstanding.
While my dishes were a bit hit or miss on these last two visits, both Brandon and I do very much enjoy Kona Cafe. I think the restaurant shines with their sushi, noodle bowls, and sandwiches. In the future, those will continue to be at the top of our list for dishes to try when we dine at Kona Cafe.
Have you been to Kona Cafe? What did you enjoy when you dined there?