*This post contains a gluten free dinner review. It also includes information about dairy free options.
Dinner at ‘Ohana
‘Ohana, located at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, has been a favorite dinner spot for my family since 2003. It’s seen a lot of changes over the years, but I can’t help but love the atmosphere, charm, and food served at this all-you-care-to-enjoy family style table service restaurant. And, it’s not just my family that loves it. Like Cape May Cafe, this is one of those must-do restaurant traditions to enjoy whenever my good friend Ron is visiting Disney World. And, recently, he came to visit, so dinner at ‘Ohana it was!
I love everything about the theme at ‘Ohana. It truly hasn’t changed since I started dining there in 2003. And there’s something magical and nostalgic about the Polynesian theme.
When you arrive at ‘Ohana, you’ll be greeted by a classic tiki theme. And, you’ll even spot a few menehune too.
I have no idea why, but I always associate Polynesian themes with mid-century style. Maybe it’s because it was really popular back in the 1950s and 1960s. The Polynesian Village Resort combines these two themes a lot in their decor too. So, you’ll see lots of this inside and outside of the restaurant.
On this visit, we got a great table location — smack dab in the middle of the restaurant, near the open-flame grills and next to the windows with a spectacular view.
We were having dinner pretty early that day, but if we had been there during the Magic Kingdom fireworks, this would have been a fantastic view. Of course, even without fireworks, it was a pretty great location.
‘Ohana does not offer an allergy-friendly menu or allergen guide. But, a chef will come to your table and talk to you about options. On this visit, we caught up with Chef Bodie, who has helped us on our last several visits to the restaurant. He let us know that most of the menu continues to be gluten free (and dairy free) and that he’d take care of us.
He did bring us some Deanna’s Gluten Free rolls to start with Earth Balance vegan buttery spread. But, both Ron and I agreed that the rolls were pretty dried out and not properly heated. It’s weird because ‘Ohana shares a kitchen space with Kona Cafe, and Kona always heats the rolls well. Of course, we both agreed, we don’t come to ‘Ohana for gluten free rolls!
Up first was a salad. This was both gluten free and dairy free. On this visit, the salad was totally different from the salad that ‘Ohana was serving for the past few years. It now includes spinach, kale, arugula, and radicchio with a honey-lime vinaigrette and dried cranberries. I have to admit, that I was pretty disappointed by the salad.
The salad was just OK tasting, but I was not a fan of the kale, which was super tough. I also would have liked to have seen some other elements in the salad — some red onion or crunchy nuts. It just felt a little boring and underwhelming. The positive to the salad was that it was very fresh, and I was happy to see the honey-lime vinaigrette back at ‘Ohana (which was a staple for many years).
Up next, we were served heaps of steamed rice, stir-fry vegetables, and chicken wings. Everything on the plate was gluten free and dairy free. The ‘Ohana Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings have been a favorite of my for more than a decade. They have always been so crispy and delicious. And, on this visit…well, they were another big disappointment. Of the entire meal, I think this was the dish I was most sad to see changed.
Our wings were actually greasy and slimy because they hadn’t crisped up the chicken wings usually are. I’m not sure if this is how the restaurant has been serving them or if we just got a really bad batch that night. Either way, we both ate just a little and gave up on the wings.
On the upside, the rice and stir-fry vegetables were all good. We were also served sweet and sour sauce and peanut sauce — both of which were gluten free and dairy free. I liked both, but next time I will ask to see if they still have the gluten free teriyaki sauce on hand. I much prefer that than the peanut sauce.
The best part of our dinner were the meats served at ‘Ohana — all of which are gluten free and dairy free. We both agreed that they were outstanding on our visit, and we both happily gobbled down steak, chicken, and shrimp. The best meat of the night was the chicken. And, it was literally falling off the skewers tender. The meat, veggies, and rice along with the sauces were the perfect dinner combo and reminded me why I love ‘Ohana so much.
I was way too full to fuss much with dessert. But, Chef Bodie brought us Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC gluten free and vegan chocolate chip banana bread with fresh fruit, ice cream, and chocolate sauce. I forgot to ask for non-dairy ice cream, so I just picked it off mine. The bread itself was quite good — though a bit filling after a meal at ‘Ohana. Next time, I might ask to see if they have the gluten free and vegan tapioca pudding that you can get next door at Kona Cafe. That has been one of my favorite new desserts recently, and it would be a great lighter way to end a heavy meal.
While there were a few misses in terms of food options at ‘Ohana, the overall meal experience was great. Both of us agreed the service we had was excellent and that the chef was very accommodating to special dietary needs. If you like Polynesian inspired food, you’ll really enjoy the ambiance and meal you get at ‘Ohana. It’s definitely a restaurant I always look forward to going to.
Have you been to ‘Ohana? What do you think of this table service restaurant?