Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kona Cafe Lunch - Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Last Saturday, we had lunch at Kona Cafe, a table service restaurant at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.  In the past year, it has become one of our favorite restaurants for lunch at Disney World.  

Kona Cafe used to have gluten free menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they recently adopted allergy-friendly menus, which list options for people with gluten/wheat, milk, egg, soy, fish/shellfish, and peanut/tree nut allergies.  

Gluten/wheat friendly appetizers include the grilled beef satay (featured in my post The Best Thing I Ever Ate at Disney - Gluten Free Appetizers), ginger-parsnip soup, Kona salad, charcuterie and cheese, and four sushi options (nigiri, volcano roll, sashimi, and the vegetable rainbow roll).  For entrees, the grilled teriyaki steak, Pan-Asian noodles, grilled ahi tuna sandwich, and grilled steak salad can be made gluten free. 

 Gluten free options on the kids' menu include the garden salad, carrot and celery sticks, grilled chicken breast, grilled shrimp skewers, grilled fish of the day, cheeseburger, hot dog, french fries, and fruit salad.

 For an entree, I ordered the grilled teriyaki steak with grilled pineapple salsa.  In the past, the gluten free menu at Kona specified that this dish was served with sticky rice and Asian pear slaw, but the new allergy-friendly menu didn't mention sides, so our server went to check with a chef.  I told her that I wanted the sticky rice and the sweet potato fries, with an extra side of sauce to dip my fries in, but my meal ended up coming out with my sauce and salsa on the side, and regular french fries.  

The manager on duty quickly brought me a side of sweet potato fries, which she assured me were made in a dedicated fryer.  I never did get my extra side of teriyaki sauce to dip my fries in, because our server never checked back with us to ask how our meal was, and I used all of my sauce on my steak and rice.  

My daughters split an order of the gluten free Pan-Asian noodles with chicken, their favorite entree at Kona for lunch and dinner.  This dish is always packed with a wide variety of vegetables, and I love the gluten free teriyaki sauce it is served with.  

I never pass up a chance to order one of the desserts at Kona, because two of them are featured in my post The Best Thing I Ever Ate at Disney - Gluten Free Desserts.  My husband asked to see the dessert menu, which our server dropped off, but it did not mention gluten free options.  When our server hadn't come back after 10 minutes, I walked over and asked a hostess if they had an allergy-friendly dessert menu, which she said they did not, so she went to get a chef for me.  The chef I spoke to told me that I could order banana-chocolate creme brulee, jasmine tea-infused cheesecake, or the Kilauea torte chocolate cake with a molten center.  I had a hard time deciding, because the Kilauea torte is so amazing, but I chose the banana-chocolate creme brulee, which came with a little different presentation than I am used to.  Usually, there is a banana slice with caramelized sugar on top of the creme brulee for garnish, but this time, there were banana slices on top of the custard, barely visible underneath the caramelized sugar, maybe to hide the fact that the banana was a bit brown in spots.  Thankfully, it still tasted great.  You can read more about the Kilauea torte in my previous lunch review.

My husband walked downstairs and had dessert at the Pineapple Lanai, which serves Dole Whip.  He chose a pineapple and vanilla swirl, which is our favorite way to eat Dole Whip.  

Overall, the food at Kona Cafe was delicious, just like it always is for lunch, but I was disappointed in the service we received from our server, who I had a bad experience with the last time I ate at Kona for breakfast.  The people at the table next to us, who were seated right before we were, ate their meal and left before we were even served our entrees.  Thankfully, we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere, or we would have been even more frustrated in the painfully slow service, which is not typical of Kona.

November 6, 2015 Update

Last Sunday, we had a late lunch with my family at Kona Cafe before heading to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Because of some recent menu changes, an allergy-friendly menu was not available, so Chef Hector came out to speak to us.  When I mentioned that I was interested in the Pan-Asian noodles, he asked me if I wanted them with chicken, shrimp, tofu, or all of them.  I decided on a combination of shrimp and chicken.  My noodles were perfectly cooked, and the dish was packed full of veggies.  Be careful if you order both shrimp and chicken, because I was initially charged an extra $7.00 for the shrimp on top of the cost of the Pan-Asian noodles with chicken.  I disputed the charge, because I assumed that I would get half a portion of chicken and half a portion of shrimp, not a large portion of each.  The extra charge was removed from my bill without issue.

For dessert, I chose the Kilauea torte chocolate cake with a molten center.  I ordered it a la mode, because I like my molten chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream.   This dish never disappoints, and was the perfect ending to a great meal.  Everyone in our party of 12 was happy with their appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

You can read more about Kona Cafe, view their menus and hours, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Kona Cafe?  


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