Kona Island Sushi Bar California Luau Roll

*This dining experience took place in May 2013.

Mahalo to Kona Cafe for being one of my favorite places to eat on WDW property. It’s one of my go-to places for breakfast and lunch; however, I rarely go for dinner. On this particular occasion, I had the pleasure of visiting with my friend Krista from Disneyways to grab a light meal.

Check out that view from the balcony by Kona!

We were greeted by Chef Kevin, who I have never met before. He was very friendly and helpful. Since he didn’t know me, he didn’t know I knew the “spiel” and most of the menu offerings, but I wanted to hear his take on things, so I sat back and listened. He told me a few items that would be easiest GF/DF. TheTeriyaki Style New York Strip is the best choice (personally, I don’t eat steak so no go for me) and the Pan Asian Noodles were the second best choice (they use rice noodles for GF) and you get your choice of protein: tofu, chicken, shrimp. I thought about the noodle dish but then decided to ask if I could get sushi and a salad with protein added to it (this turned out NOT to be cost effective but more on that later).

The sushi is made in-house and I’ve had it before, specifically the California Luau Roll. I decided I wanted that again (gotta love Cali Rolls that have no crab with a K!) which was still deemed safe. I’m sure they can make other rolls (blog readers have mentioned the cucumber roll), especially since the sushi folks from California Grill are currently over at Kona Island Sushi Bar! But, I stuck with the California Roll. I made sure to ask for GF soy sauce (that’s important with sushi!!) and then I ordered the Kona Salad without the blue cheese. I realized later I should have opted for the Spinach Salad which sounded like it had more too it. Chef Kevin did say the Kona Salad was more plain…should have listened to him. I asked him if he could add some protein and I asked for shrimp.

While we were waiting for our meals, Chef Kevin brought out the GNI rolls and some Earth Balance (and I didn’t have to even ask for the EB–love that!). I will say, the rolls appeared to be heated well until I bit into one. This was the first time one was what I consider to be overheated meaning they were just a little tough/chewy. Well, you stick enough EB on it and it tasted ok to me.

GNI Brand Rolls & Earth Balance Vegan Margarine

I asked for both the salad and sushi to be served as an entree together. It was great to go back and forth between the two. It was also a nice light meal, which was much needed after a hot afternoon in the park–summer had officially arrived!

The sushi was delicious as always. What I like about theirs is they use premium ingredients and I love the pineapple addition to the California Roll–it adds a nice bit of sweetness that marries well with the sweetness of the crab and the creaminess of the mayo and avocado. I also like the touch of sesame seeds on the outside. I admit, I’m not a big fan at all of fish roe and many California Rolls or sushi rolls in general have them, so I appreciate that it hasn’t been added. I also love that I get GF soy sauce. Thank you San J Tamari! (that’s the brand Kona uses) The sushi isn’t the cheapest thing in the world $12.99 for the roll with 8 pieces. But it’s also a great option as an appetizer or something to share.

California Luau Roll

My salad was good but it really seemed under-dressed–like a lot. It had a citrus vinaigrette but I’ll be honest, I didn’t taste it much. The smoked almonds in this salad were excellent (I picked through and ate a lot of them), the red onion was nice and the Asian pear was a delicate touch. It would actually be perfect with the blue cheese. The shrimp was very well cooked and very large. At least they weren’t skimpy! They were nice although maybe in hindsight chicken would have played better with the ingredients in the salad.

Kona Salad with shrimp added on

I really should have gone for the Spinach Salad – with Heirloom tomatoes and duck prosciutto. It also had candied walnuts too. It came with a hoisin dressing which I did not clarify if I could have it or not (would need to be made with GF soy sauce) because I knew I didn’t want to get it. But, maybe next time. The idea of duck prosciutto sounds interesting…

My dinner–love the cute chopsticks and the bowl behind the salad has the GF soy sauce in it!

Overall, I really enjoyed the dinner. It was a great light meal, perfect for summer. It also goes to show you that you can pick and choose and really make a meal out of various components rather just ordering an entree. The only downside was that I got upcharged for the protein – $7.00 so a salad & sushi cost $29 with tax and tip included. Had I ordered the noodle bowl, it would have been $16.99-$17.99 and around $20.00 with tax and tip. Whoops! I wouldn’t do it all the time, but it was nice to have the option.

I’d give this a solid 8 out of 10!