11 April 2012

Kona Cafe experience

If you’ve been following the culinary adventures of the Gazette for a while, you know I’m prone to wading my way through the set menus at table service restaurants. While these may not include the most glamorous menu items they do contain some of the restaurant’s guest favorites and a fairly accurate slice of the menu offerings. My main reason for continuing to review these options is that fixed menus are regularly selected by guests who want to try some of everything without the muss and fuss of trying to figure out how expensive their meal might be. In this instance, we’ve headed upstairs in the Polynesian to give the dinner menu at Kona Café a whirl.

The Chef’s Choice menu includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Appetizer choices include: Kona Salad, Sweet Potato and Lemon Grass Bisque, or Pot Stickers. Entrée options are: Coconut-Almond Chicken, Chicken Pan-Asian Noodles, Shrimp Pan-Asian Noodles, or Sustainable Fish. The best part of any meal, dessert, offers the following: Kilauea Torte, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, or Kona Coffee Panna Cotta. For my meal I opted for the Pot Stickers, Coconut-Almond Chicken, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
Pot Stickers – The menu lists this item as Wok-seared Pork and Vegetable Dumplings with a creamy Ginger-Soy Sauce. The plate comes with four dumplings and a healthy portioning of the ginger-soy sauce on the plate and drizzled on the dumplings. I appreciated this presentation, as opposed to a cup overfilled with sauce to dip into which can overpower the other elements of the dish. The ginger-soy combination digs into the palate with a strong and salty bite, and plays well with the rest of the pot stickers. The dumplings had been seared, but I could have done with a bit more charring to give the shell a chewy-crispy texture that I find so appealing in seared dumplings. As for the filling, it was a spot on mixture of savory with a bit of sweet from the veggies. Overall, I would certainly order the Pot Stickers again.
Coconut-Almond Chicken – Described as Breaded and Baked Chicken Breast served with a Salad of Asian Greens, fresh Fruit, and Almonds. I opted out of the Kona Salad appetizer as I knew there were be a small salad garnishing my chicken, which made this a win-win situation. The Asian greens salad, along with the chicken itself, is a study texture. The sweetness of the fruit weaves back and forth across my tongue with the bitterness of the greens just as the soft qualities of the fruit play against the crispness of the greens. The chicken itself is crunchy and sweet, with the nutty crusting holding in the juices very well while not becoming a mushy exterior. Again, another item I would tuck away in my ‘order again’ file.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake – Pretty self-explanatory, the dish is complimented by a Lemongrass and Caramel Sauce. This may seem like a throw away dessert, after all it’s been around since Dole perfected pineapple canning in 1903, but there is something comforting to knowing what to expect with a sweet ending. The cake here is dense and the sugars from the pineapple have caramelized throughout the single-serving portion, which is just the right size in my opinion. With the lemongrass and caramel sauce streaking on the plate and not covering the cake, you are allowed free reign to choose how much or little you want to use. It does, I will say, add a lubrication element that is nice to have with a dry cake.

My body must have been craving sugar on the day I visited Kona Café as my meal was clearly a study in sweetness. Then again, with pineapple and sugar cane being major exports of Hawaii, is it any wonder that natural sweeteners have found their way into many of the restaurant’s dishes? I am always happy to with my meal at Kona Café, and the dinner menu holds true to the quality I expect from the establishment. There are many options to choose from on the menu, both on and off of the Chef’s Choice, any I’m fairly certain you’ll enjoy any of them.


Colm said...

By far the best coffee on the Disney property. 25% of the reason I stay at the Poly.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Colm - My wife makes sure we pass through the Poly at least once a trip for her to grab a cup! I think if she had her way, we'd be there every morning!

Becca said...

I think this has become our favourite restaurant at WDW. The bread with honey nut butter is absolutely incredible. I can't believe we managed to squeeze in dessert!