Sunday Brunch: Family
Style Feast for the Family by the Family
by Reuben Gutierrez
21 June 2013
Author's note: This week we celebrate
Who's Who Wednesday's author Erik Anderson! Our resident Disney
character expert has recently covered such beloved Disney characters
Lilo Pelekai from 2002's Lilo and Stitch who is
also a frequent visitor to Erik's favorite Walt Disney World
I lai la
Ua i la
No mala hini ohana
Welcome cousins, e komo mai
Aloha e komo mai
In 1993, Minnie Mouse welcomed my cousins, my
family, and all her guests to a 'French Colonial' restaurant called
the Papeete Bay Verandah at the Polynesian Village Resort. While
such details weren't retracted from my memory, the experience is one
of my strongest memories: having breakfast with my brother, sister,
and nearly all my cousins along with Minnie and her friends. Being
one of the first Disney Character meals (and the first of my life),
Minnie's Menehune Breakfast included a buffet meal with visits from
all her friends decked out in colorful Hawaiian vacation attire.
While the Papeete Bay Verandah served plenty of Walt Disney World
guests, the winds of change closed its doors in the fall of 1994.
When it finally reopened, it would become one of the most popular
dining locations on property as 'Ohana.
'Ohana at breakfast time is pretty much the same as
the Papeete Bay Verandah, though this time Lilo and Stitch join
Minnie and Mickey. While the food is given Hawaiian names, it is
generally a standard American breakfast of eggs, meat, potatoes and
breads. At dinnertime, the menu takes leaps and bounds to an
incredible Polynesian feast served family-style. The themes of
family make guests feel right at home, even if they didn't grow up
in a tropical house with a 16-foot long pit of fire in their
kitchen. Everyone is family, as the restaurant name suggests, so
your seater, server, cooks, and even the guests around you are all
Cousin Ava presents the dessert we'll be having that day and gathers
our bread for our meal
After being seated, another cousin comes along to
take your drink order and soon they just don't stop coming with
platters and enormous skewers of food. There is no menu to order
from, other than the list of dishes posted at the restaurant
entrance. Cousins just come along and bring you course after course.
Where else will you find family this eager to serve you?
When seated, your family is welcomed with amazing
Pineapple Coconut bread, fresh and warm out of the oven.
Appetizers arrive in rapid succession with such
delectable treats as Mixed Greens with a Mango-Poppy Seed dressing,
Honey Coriander Chicken Wings, Pork fried dumplings, and pineapple.
Soon, entr'e accompaniments join the party: egg
noodles with pineapple in a peanut sauce and stir fried vegetables.
The Fire Pit!
Then the main attraction: oak fired skewers of
chicken, pork, steak, and shrimp. The chicken is simply seasoned and
oak grilled. The sirloin steak in a flavorful marinade was one of my
favorites. Pork Loin is prepared in an Asian Barbecue style and
giant shrimp is grilled spicy.
Another nice touch is a trio of dipping sauces to
enhance your feast: House-made Peanut sauce, Chimichurri Sauce, and
Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce. According to my research, recent
guests report the sauces have been reduced to only the house-made
peanut sauce. Hopefully this is only temporary as all the sauces
I've eaten at 'Ohana only twice, my first almost 10
years ago (wow!) being a memorable blur of food with my immediate
family; the second was last year with my self-proclaimed 'ohana
circle of friends. I had to rush to work right after (those were the
days I worked overnight), so the meal already felt rushed, but I
remember everything coming out so quick. My friends told Cousin
Chris the situation and he made sure the meal came out with enough
time for me to get to work!
'Ohana isn't just about the feast, it's about time
with the family. Evening entertainment includes live musicians and
coconut races for the kids. Probably the best part about eating
dinner at 'Ohana (or any Magic Kingdom resort restaurant around the
Seven Seas Lagoon) is that if timed right, you have a wonderful far
off view of the evening's fireworks show. The music is played in the
restaurant itself, creating a magical beginning, middle, or end to
Cousin Kayleigh shows off her Beverage in a Pineapple!
In case you haven't realized, 'ohana
is the Hawaiian word for family, and 'Ohana the restaurant does a
terrific job in making sure that theme is clear. Family isn't just a
classification of human beings related to each other. In addition to
its literal meaning, family could apply to a group of friends, a
group of coworkers, or even a group of strangers experiencing
something terrific in the same moment. Family isn't just a group of
people; it's togetherness, it's sharing, it's a feeling.