*This dining experience took place in May 2019 and includes notes about gluten free, dairy free, peanut free, fish and shellfish free, and chicken and turkey free options.
Dinner at Kona Cafe
Kona Cafe, located at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, is a table service restaurant with a la carte options that include sandwiches, sushi, and ramen bowls for lunch and dinner. Brandon and I have both been fans of dinner here for their rice and noodle bowls for meals that are easy, filling, and reasonably priced. On this visit, we stopped by for a quick dinner after returning from a 3-day cruise on the Disney Dream. Neither one of us wanted to cook dinner the day we got back and Kona Cafe is always easy to get last minute reservations to for dinner.
Both of us love the atmosphere of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. As one of the first resorts opened at Walt Disney World back in the 1970s, we both appreciate the nostalgia and retro vibe that this resort has too.
When the lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort was refurbished back in 2015, I was pretty sad to see the water fixture that was a mainstay in the lobby go. But, I have to admit, some of the new updates, like the decorative lights shown in the photo above, were pretty terrific additions.
Kona Cafe is located on the 2nd floor of the Polynesian Village Resort — just above the lobby. With an open-air concept, the restaurant really feels like a lobby restaurant. You’ll get plenty of chances to people watch while you dine.
Inside the restaurant itself, the colors are bright and vibrant — though I do think it could use a bit of an update. It feels a little like the decor is stuck in the 90s with Polynesian flair. Still, the seating is fairly comfortable and the theming is generally pleasant and low-key — a bit like the overall experience I feel you get at Kona Cafe. It’s all very nice, but I wouldn’t say it’s particularly special.
Like most restaurants on Disney property, Kona Cafe does carry an allergy-friendly lunch and dinner menu. You can, of course, always ask to speak with a chef when you visit too to discuss options and potential customization. I recommend asking for a chef, because the menu is often very easy to accommodate for gluten free guests (and even dairy free) with simple modifications.
On this visit, we requested to speak with a chef due to Brandon’s new allergies. Our biggest concern were his chicken and turkey allergies, which are fairly unusual. The chef was fantastic at talking through options and ensuring that Brandon had something safe for his special dietary needs.
After speaking with the chef, our server brought us rolls for the table. I had the Deanna’s Gluten Free Rolls which are gluten free, dairy free, and free of the top common allergens. Kona Cafe serves the rolls with Macadamia Nut Butter or Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, depending on your special dietary need.
Brandon was given the regular gluten-filled rolls, as they were safe for his peanut allergy.
Since we had been eating a ton on the cruise ship, I wasn’t all that hungry. I opted to get the Seafood Coconut-Curry Soup which was listed as safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish, Milk, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies.
This was a really delicious but spicy soup. The flavor was excellent, but I think I would have not enjoyed it if it was much spicier because it was fairly close to being too spicy for me. I also enjoy spice a lot, so if you’re not a fan of spicy food, you may want to skip this soup. Overall, it was very good and had a good amount of seafood in it. So, I would definitely order it again.
For my entree, I chose to get sushi. Many of the sushi options are gluten free or can be easily modified. I opted for the classic California Roll with Jumbo Crab, Citrus Mayonnaise, Cucumber, and Avocado. This is listed as safe for Gluten/Wheat, Fish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies.
I have to say that Kona Cafe always does an excellent job with sushi. If you’re looking for reasonably priced sushi at Disney, this is a great option. I always find that the seafood in my sushi is really fresh and very tasty. They also have gluten free soy sauce/tamari on hand for sushi too. Be sure to ask the chef and your server about it.
Brandon was really craving the noodle bowl that Kona Cafe used to serve. But, since it’s no longer on the menu, he ordered the Pork Belly Noodle Bowl with Bone Broth, Rice Noodles, Soy Egg, Mushrooms, Bok Choy, and Hot Sesame Oil. This dish was listed safe for Fish/Shellfish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies, and it was also safe for Chicken and Turkey Allergies too.
Brandon raved about this Ramen bowl. He said the broth was really flavorful. And, he loved the crispy pork belly. I was shocked as he was eating it just how much pork belly they included in the dish. So, if you’re looking for a hearty portion, the noodle bowl is definitely a great value.
Brandon didn’t think the noodle bowl would be very big, so he asked to order a side of mashed potatoes. Clearly, we were both still on cruise mode asking for lots of options! You can imagine how surprised we both were when we were brought a giant platter of mashed potatoes. The serving was huge and definitely a shareable dish meant to accompany one of the steaks on the menu.
The Creamy Mashed Potatoes were very good. Were they the best mashed potatoes we’ve ever had? No. Would we get them again? Maybe depending on what we ordered. We both agreed that next time we’d stick with our main entrees and skip the side.
The mashed potatoes are safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies.
I had heard that Kona Cafe and ‘Ohana both had a vegan tapioca pudding dessert. When the chef mentioned that the desserts came in smaller portions, I decided to give it a try.
The Coconut Tapioca with a Pineapple-Coconut Jam base topped with Fresh Fruit and Assorted Boba is safe for Gluten/Wheat and Milk allergies and is vegan. Brandon did not want to try this, so we did not ask about peanut or tree nut allergies.
Overall, I really enjoyed this dessert, but I didn’t love it. I really really dislike boba balls, so I made sure to remove these immediately. I just do not like the texture of them at all. The pudding itself was creamy and rich tasting. And, I loved the fresh crushed pineapple on the bottom of the dish. It added a nice bit of sweetness and acidity to a very rich dessert. I would definitely order this again minus the boba balls.
Both Brandon and I really enjoyed our dinner at Kona Cafe. Neither one of us thought the new combined lunch and dinner menu was that amazing. But, we really enjoyed what we ordered. We both agreed that we’d come back again for the sushi and noodle bowls without hesitation. We’d skip it for steaks though because there are far better restaurants for steak on property. But, if you’re looking for sandwiches, sushi, or noodle bowls, Kona Cafe is a great choice.
Have you been to Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort? What did you think of the dinner options?