*This dining experience took place in May 2014.
It doesn’t happen often that I eat at a Disney restaurant this closely together, but this lunch was a last minute meal. My family had made ADRs here, and I joined them unexpectedly for lunch (they were in the parks & I met them there). I never turn down an excuse to enjoy the Polynesian, although I have to say the current construction makes it a bit more challenging to visit. I also had to take photo of the water feature in the middle of the lobby. It’s being removed for the new refurbishment of the resort, and I have to say I will miss it!
But back to the food! While waiting for my family, I noticed the dinner menu was up for display. It looks like there are a few changes with the recent April 30th menu switchover in the parks & resorts. The lunch menu has virtually no changes, so I pretty much knew it was between a salad, sushi, or my favorite Kona Island Chicken Sandwich.
We were greeted by our server, and I mentioned that I didn’t see the sushi menu (we got one last week for lunch), and he said they are no longer serving sushi at Kona. Say what?! He said it was just a test, and that they decided to remove it for now. Well, that was a bummer. I wanted something light and had been hoping for some sushi. Which meant option #2 was on the table…salad.
After a few minutes we were greeted by Higgins who is the manager at Kona. I was surprised to see him with the special diets yellow pad. He explained that they were short staffed that day and the chef was unable to come out and assist me. A first for me at a table service. I know this menu really well so I asked if I could have the Grilled Steak Salad with chicken instead of steak. He said that he was pretty sure that was possible, and he said he’d take this meal request to the chef and make sure that everything was safe. I will say that I didn’t see a chef once during my meal (and it was a bit lengthy), so it sounds like they were a bit busy.
This salad comes with mixed greens tossed with grilled chicken, vegetables, and cashew-lime vinaigrette. I have to say, the chicken was grilled perfectly and the salad itself was very fresh. It had sesame oil in the dressing, which was light and flavorful. I am a big fan of vinaigrettes so this worked perfectly for me. I will say, flavor wise, the steak is the better protein option with the vegetables served here, but chicken does work well too. I just don’t really steak, so chicken tends to be my go-to protein.
My only complaint would be that I think the price and portion ratio was a bit off. This salad is $15.99, and I would order the cobb salad at the Brown Derby any day over this. That salad is huge and this one is just a bit small (it looks bigger in the picture). As a light meal though, it was absolutely perfect for me. I just wouldn’t want to order it if I were really hungry!
Overall, I found the salad to be a good meal choice. The experience here was a bit mediocre this time. Our server was nice but we have found the last few lunch visits to be extremely slow paced. I hope that having a manager come out and speak to a guest isn’t a normal occurrence here now. The manager was great but his knowledge of the food options is a bit more limited.
Overall, I’d give this experience a 6.5 out of 10 for this visit to Kona Cafe.