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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch Dines in the South Seas
July 10, 2011

Note: Though Winnie the Pooh Week is this week, Sunday Brunch will be ending the themed week on July 17 with a Pooh related article.  Last Saturday was such a tropical themed day for your Sunday Brunch author, the topic of the day has been changed!

I know I haven�t spoken about my awesome new job yet at Walt Disney World(!), and I still won�t be discussing it (to an extent) as I signed a confidentiality agreement, but there are some exciting things that happened at work that helped bring you today�s Sunday Brunch.  For those amazing random readers who do not know me personally (thank you for reading this blog on your own accord!), I work at the BoardWalk Inn and Villas Resort near Epcot in their Bakery!  While that is another story for another time, we now return to today�s topic.  Today, one of my managers came to check up on us in the bakery and she was wearing two fresh flower Hawaiian lays.  It turns out she is going to be going to Aulani, Disney�s new Vacation Club resort in Hawaii, to help prepare the resort for opening!  We are all excited for her and look forward to her return for updates about the resort.

 

With this news, I was inspired for some South Seas cuisine, and what better place than Kona Caf� in Disney�s Polynesian Resort?  This dining adventure was actually completely unplanned and the decision was made based on my party�s current location.  I was with Hidden Mickey Monday�s Alex M at the Wilderness Lodge to pick up our friend Kayleigh D, who had been staying with her family at the Lodge that week.  As we left to explore the resort, Kayleigh mentioned she had two table service credits left on her Disney Dining Plan that were going to go to waste if not used before the night was through.  We were thinking of nearby table service restaurants we�d like to try that would be easier to get into last minute and something the missing members of our usual gang would not miss (too much).  The Pacific tropics theme of my day just seemed to continue as the stars lined up and led us to Kona Caf�, home of the original Tonga Toast (check out the recipe and story on Sunday Brunch�s March 27th, 2011 article). 

 

The Kona Caf� can be found on the upstairs restaurant and monorail level of the Polynesian Resort, between the Sushi Bar and O�hana�s family restaurant.  It overlooks the scene setting, enormous waterfall and rock formation display on the main floor of the hotel lobby.  We walked up to the front desk of the restaurant hoping there was space and sure enough, a lovely cast member named Tabby added our name to the list and we were set for dinner!  While waiting we checked out the menu to see how we could best take advantage of these Disney Dining Plan credits that magically were bestowed upon us by Kayleigh D.

 

  

The menu was A La Carte, but a Prix Fixe option was available, with recommendations of appetizers, entrees, and desserts picked by the chefs for the best Kona Caf� culinary experience.  We decided to all share what the two credits allowed for.  The Dining Plan allowed us two entrees and two desserts, so we picked one of the chefs� picks and one that would give us the most bang for our Disney Dining Plan bucks: Coconut-Almond Chicken and the Teriyaki-style New York Strip.  The latter cost more than the cost for one person to dine for one day on the plan!

As with most restaurants, guests are treated to a bread course prior to eating.  Polynesian�s Hawaiian Sweet Bread is always a favorite, and it definitely satisfied our taste buds.  The soft light bread came served with a scoop of macadamia nut butter and together, it was Hawaiian heaven in bread form.  My friend Jayne from high school described macadamia nuts as �butter in nut form� and she�s absolutely right, but when added to butter, macadamia nut butter is a sweet, nutty, buttery spread I could eat by the spoonful all day long.  On the bread it reminded me a lot of really high quality buttered popcorn with a hint of macadamia.

 

Using all our might to hold back on the delicious bread, our entrees arrived promptly, and aside from the fact that we were hungry, the food looked incredible.  I�ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

 

The New York Strip was a fine cut of meat, tender and juicy, and cooked just right.  I ordered it medium well since I like my meat cooked a bit rather than mostly raw (which I�ll never understand why people continue to feed such a thing to themselves).  The best part was the Pineapple Teriyaki glaze that came drizzled and pooled over the steak.  The dish also came with stir-fried brocolini (like broccoli, but more ini�) and sticky rice.  I wish they gave more rice to soak up the leftover teriyaki pineapple glaze!  We all agreed the steak was really good and satisfying.

 

The Coconut-Almond Chicken was truly the star entr�e of the night.  Though the steak was delicious, the south seas flavors shined through with this dish.  A plump, juicy chicken breast was breaded and then baked with a crust of coconut almond.  It was served with a mixed salad of Asian greens, pineapple cubes, and almond slivers.  The salad was pretty standard, with an interesting twist of pineapple and almond.  The flavors together packed with the freshness of the pineapple made this salad definitely stand out from the salads of my past dining experiences.  The chicken was probably the best thing I ate all night.  I�m not a fan of coconut, but in this pairing, it was delicious!  The unique, naturally sweet coconut with the hearty nuttiness of the almonds made for delectable crusty complement for the chicken.  Paired with the freshness of the Asian salad, it truly made for a delightful dinner.

Just as we were ready to explode, our server came by for our dessert order.  We had previously explored the magnificent display of desserts right after we were seated.  As a special treat, you can explore some of it too!

 

 

 

 

 

The pastry plating station was open for all guests to see.  Here, the pastry chef plates a Kona Kone dessert.

 

As you enter Kona Caf� you are greeted by Lilo and Stitch in chocolate form at the pastry station!

We decided on the Chocolate fondue and the Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  The Pineapple cake was delicious and served poppin� fresh and warm from the oven.  The chocolate fondue was definitely the better of the two, with the most interesting components.  The dessert arrived with a deep ramekin of warm chocolate fondue, accompanied with fresh fruit and treats for dipping: kiwi, strawberry, pineapple, macadamia nut brittle, coconut macaroons.

 

 

 

As a last minute dining experience brought to us by the magic of Kayleigh, the Kona Caf� was a magnificent way to end the day of tropical settings.  I usually try to be as critical and honest as I can be with these reviews, but it�s just so difficult to find something bad with Disney.  I guess the one complaint we have was that Alex was in need of a lemonade refill and it came later than expected�though I guess we were spoiled with our previous culinary adventure at Boma, where the servers were always walking by for refills and plate clearing.  At the Kona Caf�, the food was incredible, the service impeccable, and all I can say is mahalo (thank you) to my Disney ohana for treating me to a great evening on the South Seas.

 

Author�s note: Sunday Brunchies and Crunchies is a new version of Sunday Brunch that explores a single item in WDW.  Rather than dedicate a post to one whole restaurant, we�ll be taking a critical look at some delicious Disney treats and dining individually.

This week we�ll be zooming down to the Wolfgang Puck Express in the Downtown Disney Marketplace for a quick taste of Wolfgang Puck�s Chinois Chicken Salad.  This quick service restaurant is rather unique and on a higher level than many other quick service locations in Walt Disney World, though that discussion is for another time.  Get ready, because this salad has both great and unsatisfactory elements.  The salad is made up of sliced pan-roasted chicken, cashews, red cabbage and other Asian vegetables (hence the name �Chinois� meaning �Chinese� in French), crispy wonton noodles, and a honey mustard dressing.


Wolfgang Puck�s Chinois Chicken Salad

My plate arrived at our table piled high with a colorful array of shredded lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables.  There was also about 1 cup of crispy wonton noodles sprinkled on top with a handful of cashew nuts and some chicken.  The portion size was quite generous and I knew it would definitely fill me up.

The first forkful of salad arrived with satisfaction as I could taste the tangy, yet light honey mustard dressing and the crisp freshness of all the vegetables.  My first bite was made complete with a satisfying crunch of the lightly salted, wonton noodles.

After a few more bites, I have to admit, the salad got a bit�tiring.  The more I ate it, the more I realized this salad was a lot more like an Asian coleslaw.  Not to say it�s a bad salad, it�s just the portion size as a full serving salad was too much.  Served along some Beef teriyaki or with a Hibachi meal, this would be a great accompaniment.  By itself as a single meal it was just too much.  I applaud Wolfgang Puck for creating an Asian themed salad, though for me it was too much to have as a single meal.  I think it would work better with more greens rather than shreds of lettuce and cabbage.  Perhaps some spinach, lettuce, and bok choy could work.  When one thinks of salad, a nice poofy bed of greens comes to mind, though these Chinese Chickens were out of bed and stuck in a nest of coleslaw.

 

 

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