With Spring Break still going on and park-adjacent resorts limiting parking to guests with reservations, we knew we’d have to make a dining reservation at the Polynesian Resort Village in order park there and gain (convenient) access to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. (If you don’t have a reservation, you’ll be asked to park in the Magic Kingdom lot.)
Apart from breakfast last summer, it’s been over two years (!) since our last visit to Kona for dinner, and nearly 4 years (!!) for lunch. We started out meal with beer, of course. Matt ordered the Kona Longboard Island Lager, while I had the Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale.
While looking over the sushi items, I noticed a Crab Rangoon Roll and pointed it out to Matt. Crab (Krab) Rangoon is one of those guilty pleasure items we like to order when we get takeout, so we were intrigued on how it would translate into sushi. It’s described as Crab Salad rolled in Nori, Tempura Fried, and served with Fried Won Tons and Eel Sauce.
It’s definitely an interesting take on Crab Rangoon. You definitely got the flavors of the original dish paired with the “sushi” flavors of the rice, nori, and tempura batter. I have to admit, we really loved picking off the fried won tons that were drizzled in eel sauce. We left two pieces of the roll behind. We thought it was good and we were glad that we ordered it, but are on the fence about ordering again.
Being a fan of the variety of steamed buns served during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and Food & Wine Festival, we had to try the Steamed Pork Buns. These buns feature Cider-braised Pork, spicy Hoisin Sauce, and Granny Apple Slaw with Roasted Brown Rice Vinaigrette. They are also served with a small salad with what I believe to be their Citrus Vinaigrette.
The pork was tender and had a slightly sweet and spicy flavor. The crunch of the slaw paired nicely against the pillowy steamed buns. There was enough pork in the buns that made it difficult for the slaw to stay tucked in while eating, though. (But I’m not complaining.)
For his entree, Matt ordered the Asian Noodle Bowl, which has a Spiced Beef Broth with Strip Steak, Asian Vegetables, and Rice Noodles. The broth was very aromatic, and actually didn’t taste too far off from one Matt’s ordered from a Vietnamese restaurant on Colonial Drive in Orlando. The noodles were a bit al dente, and Matt would have preferred them a bit more cooked.
The strip steak was sliced almost paper thin, and virtually melted away as you chewed. The vegetables added some crunch to the dish. Matt didn’t get too far along before he was full, and asked if they had to-go cups. While they don’t have actual soup containers, they did offer a giant styrofoam soda cup and lid.
The soup was served with a spicy sauce on the side, but there were some notes of horseradish in it, which Matt doesn’t like at all. It reminded me of a base that would get mixed into tomato juice to create a Bloody Mary mix.
My dish was a bit on the boring side based on the name. I ordered the Kona Turkey Sandwich, which is Turkey Breast that is roasted daily served on House-made Bread with Caramelized Onion, Purple Haze-Hoisin Mayonnaise, Arugula, Tomato, and Bacon served with Asian Pear Slaw.
I have to admit I was impressed when it came out. The thick-sliced turkey was piled high on the sandwich, and the bread, sweet caramelized onion, peppery arugula, and seasoned mayo all played a part in elevating this from a normal turkey sandwich to something a bit more special. The bacon added a bit of salt and smokiness. I don’t think there’s a thing I would change with this sandwich. I managed to eat half of it and brought the other half home.
The Asian Pear Slaw was okay, but I mostly picked at the red peppers and a few pear bits. Perhaps I was just full, or maybe it was missing something that could have given it some more pop.
And the menu from our visit:
And, just because (we stopped by for a pre-lunch drink), here is the food menu at Tambu Lounge, which starts serving at 5pm.
Our lunch at Kona Cafe was a very good experience. The service and food were both on point. We tried four new-to-us items, as well, and were overall happy with our dishes. While the Crab Rangoon Roll won’t have us clamoring for it on our next visit, we appreciated the interpretation. The Steamed Pork Buns could easily see themselves on our table again. The Asian Noodle Bowl had some serious flavor, and Matt enjoyed his leftovers later that night. The Kona Turkey Sandwich isn’t a run-of-the-mill turkey sandwich, and whether you’re looking for an elevated version of the lunchtime classic, or just prefer something that’s not fussy, it’s worth a try.
What is your favorite dish to order from Kona Cafe?