Kona Cafe Sushi Bar, Polynesian Resort Where It’s Dry, and Colorful Kitchen Stuff

Today’s walkabout was thwarted by rain.  It has been wet recently and should continue to be…forever.  One thing about summer Orlando weather is that it almost always calls for thunderstorms every day, especially as you look at days four to ten of a ten day forecast.  Right now is no different for example.  And it does rain most days, usually for about 30 minutes around 3pm and again for 30 minutes around 8pm.  Longer bouts of rain are less common.  It isn’t worth freaking out over the the weather report more than a couple of days in advance.  It isn’t going to call for a low (20% or less) chance of rain until two days before any given day.  I know you’re going to freak out anyway, but rest assured that the chance of rain can and does go down.  And please don’t compare “Disney World crowd prediction” to a weather report.  Not mine, anyway.

All is not lost though as we do have a worthy merchandise update to cover!

I don’t know if anything is new these days.  There is so much stuff and they are constantly moving it.  Even items in the “New Arrivals” section can be relatively old.  Just new to that particular store.  The funniest “This is new” item is still that Tower of Terror shirt that I said was new.  Then I linked to a post with all of the other Tower of Terror merchandise and the shirt was the fourth picture down or something.  Sorry, you’re stuck with me.

I like these:

Short.

Tall.

Boozy.

Everything colorful.

Doubles would be more convenient.  I’m pretty lazy.

I have a set of these refreezable ice cubes.  They are the cutest thing ever, but they don’t stay particularly frozen and they’re a hassle to clean.  You can always throw them at each other.

Like most Disney designs, they find one they like and slap it on everything.

Making it very easy to match.

Fun until the liquid around the side leaks out resulting in mesothelioma.

Seriously, on everything.

That’s enough merchandise.  I walked through a bit of Magic Kingdom while it was raining, but had to holster Tom, so we don’t have any photographic proof of that.  I could use some B-sides from last year or something I guess.  Or write an entire review with no photos of what was actually ordered on that particular day.

HDR!  It’s been a while!

The Polynesian Resort is my favorite on property.  Half of that is due to a very special trip I took with my family in 2002, but I like most everything about it, other than the fact that I’m constantly getting lost among the various longhouses.

I wouldn’t bet on anything major happening here anytime soon, despite what the rumor mongers always seem to be selling.

It looks like disaster relief in here, only less organized than FEMA.  Actually, this is mostly luau people being told (I would guess) that their show has been canceled.

Waiting to see about the always-popular ‘Ohana. Good these days, but not great.

The Polynesian still has my favorite resort-specific merchandise.  I have a detailed look at the various items here and then better pictures of select items here.  And the Polynesian last Christmas if you missed that.

Mostly because of this glass.

But also this.

But we’re interested in the Kona Cafe Sushi Bar.  This is it right as it opens at 5pm.  Seating is very limited, so you’ll want to arrive right at 5pm to guarantee seating.

You can order any of the sushi items next door at Kona Cafe.  Likewise, you can order anything off the Kona Cafe menu at the Sushi Bar.  Since walkups are usually available at Kona Cafe, I’d choose to dine there.  Service will (most likely) be more attentive and it’s a little more comfortable.

By 5:12pm, seating is mostly full.  It really only takes a family or two.  If it isn’t obvious, you’ll find the Sushi Bar, Kona Cafe, ‘Ohana, and the Tambu Lounge on the second floor.  The Sushi Bar is just inside the entrance from the Monorail on the left side.  It officially operates from 5pm to 10pm.  Both the Sushi Bar and Kona Cafe accept Tables in Wonderland.  If you’re ordering “take out,” be advised that it’s treated as a table service meal.  You’ll get the standard book/receipt with the amount and tip to fill in, just like you were dining at Kona Cafe.

The Sushi Bar doubles as a coffee shop in the morning.

The menu.

The Kona Cafe Dinner Menu:



Kona Cafe is another personal favorite, though it’s been a while since I’ve dined there.  It is an “unsung favorite” by virtually everyone, which probably means it’s sung.  Easy to get a reservation and the food is reasonably priced.  You can get out of there for less than $20.  Go to Le Cellier and they’ll tack on $15 for the same steak or visit Fulton’s and they’ll tack on $20 for the crab.

They have several items displayed in the window:



The Volcano Roll.

What you see is exactly what will be served.

Prepared fresh at the bar.

Order up!

They also do “takeout.”  I ordered the Volcano Roll to go.

If you were going to make a list of things you can’t trust other people to do, I think “building a sushi volcano” would be pretty high up on that list.  I order the Volcano Roll to go so I can build the volcano myself.  Unfortunately, the Volcano doesn’t look particularly appetizing here because the lighting at Captain Cook’s is bad.

As the To-Go carton is prepared.  Two sets of chopsticks, two small plastic bowls if you want to mix the soy sauce/wasabi like a bunch of white people, and the “tempura crunch” in a small cup.

As far as quality, is isn’t on the same level as our prior experience at the California Grill.  If given the choice, you’ll want to head to the bar/restaurant at the Contemporary.  While the sushi there is more expensive, there’s also more of it.  Sushi in general runs on the expensive side, so $14 for what you see isn’t necessarily a crazy price.  It’s a couple dollars overpriced, but most things at Walt Disney World are far more egregious.  This isn’t something that I would necessarily go out of my way to try, but it was very good.  Strangely filling.  Very easy if you’re looking to bring something back to the room if you find yourself staying at the Polynesian and it adds some variety to the Kona Cafe menu next door.  I could definitely see bringing out an order of sushi to the Polynesian beach pre-Wishes.  I enjoyed every bite.

Leaving with what seems like an Instagram shot.  Sorry.  This is a mixture of condensation and HDR.  Maybe the biggest travesty in photography history, save for Instagram itself.

Comments

  1. Liz says

    I don’t like the Mickey merchandise in those first pictures. He looks like he’s scared and running away!

  2. Tommy B says

    I went to Kona Cafe last trip in October, the Ny Strip was the best meal I had all week. One of my favorite steak in WDW.

  3. keri says

    these last few weeks, my idle interest in applying to be a cast member has trebled because it would also mean more regular and easy access to the kona cafe when i have a craving for their potstickers. seriously, they are good, with that sauce. it’s hard for me to find potstickers/dumplings around town that aren’t shellfish. :(

  4. Theresa says

    I feel I am in the minority as someone who is not a fan of Kona Cafe. We went two years ago and were waiting nearly an hour for our entrees as everyone around us was being served and eating their food. When it did finally arrive, the plates were scalding, meaning they had just been sitting around under the heating lamps for who knows how long.

    I would probably go back and give it a second chance eventually, but not for awhile.

  5. tracey says

    LOVE the Poly!..So relaxing and tropical….but wow that lobby looks packed!
    Thanks for another great report Josh..Iam becoming addicted to the blog!

  6. LopezMcCauley says

    Josh

    Long time reader, was at Pop with my gang (wife, 2 kids 11 and 6) most recently in March.
    Just wanted to say we ate at the Kona Sushi bar at the long “bar” at the window and there was waitress service there. Not the most comfortable place, but another option if the sushi bar seats are full. Plus you can kinda/sorta watch the monorail out the window (lots of tropical vegetation obscure the view)

  7. Andrea says

    Kona has some of the best food I have ever eaten! I have been hooked on the sustainable fish dish the last few times – the swiss chard and the black rice really go well with the fish. It’s amazing! we always get some sushi, too. cannot beat Kona…it’s fantastic!

  8. Shares says

    Were any of the glasses actual glass? I hate imbibing out of plastic and it seems all Disney glasses are, well, not glass.
    My family took our first Disney trip in 2002 and we also stayed at the Poly. It was so magical, we’ve been sold on WDW ever since. We often squeeze in a visit to the Polynesian but haven’t actually stayed there since that first visit.
    Lastly, Josh, why does it seem that the menus you choose to photograph often have some sort of goo on them? Is this typical? Am i just too hungry to notice this in person?

  9. mserv says

    Thanks for the Kona info! I originally booked the Polynesian (GV room) for our Nov. trip but construction rumors and poor room reviews got the best of me:( I switched and now we are booked Club Level at Wilderness Lodge. Kids and husband are excited but I really wanted to stay at the Polynesian.

  10. Ann says

    I think I am in the minority but I don’t care for the Poly. The lobby always seems chaotic. I stayed at the Ploy as a kid and for our honeymoon in 1991. Meh! Not my deal. I’m a Wilderness Lodge gal. I’m probably also in the minority in that I have never eaten sushi.

  11. Paige says

    Yay, for a bowl of crunchies.
    Who knew a joke (or maybe it wasn’t a joke, just the tone in your typing) about mesothelioma could make me snicker.

  12. Ana says

    I love Kona!!! Their bread is sooo yummy and the butter….oh the butter!!! Besides that we usually stick to their appetizers since their entrees are kinda big.

    My DH wants to stay at the Poly but I must admit it does not appeal to me. Maybe it will grow on me eventually.

  13. Gorsh says

    When you order take out from the sushi bar are you able to order items from the Kona menu for take out as well?

  14. cupcake says

    I love everything about the Poly, except the rooms. ‘Ohana and Kona are our two favorite resort restaurants. I looooooove that Volcano roll! You should have topped off your meal with the chocolate macadamia cupcake from Capt. Cook’s. Well-balanced!

  15. RebeccaMcK says

    Good question, Gorsh. Someone please answer?
    Even though I’m from Cali I’m not a sushi fan. I’ve nibbled at a California Roll before and it was good but I can’t just pop a whole piece into my mouth….just like how I have to sip shots, lol. Can’t commit to a full bite or a whole shot. Good to know you can order Kona Cafe food at the sushi place. That pineapple upside down cake is pretty good, but I was too full to eat it when it was served so it was sort of my breakfast in the Poly room for the next couple days (refrigerated). I wish we could have done the ‘Ohana breakfast more than once; it was very good. Better than the dinner.

  16. josh says

    I would doubt that you can get Kona Cafe entrees to go. Most/all restaurants will tell you that they don’t have the kitchen capacity to output the number of entrees they’d have to for walkups. But I’ll ask the next time I’m there if it’s possible if someone can’t confirm.

  17. Gorsh says

    I know that you can’t do take out directly from Kona, even if you have an ADR (we tried this once) I just thought maybe there was a way around that if you ordered at the sushi bar. I figured if they have to-go containers and you can order off the menu, why not just slide it in the container and take it to go…

  18. tofubeast says

    I love those tiki glasses too!! Might have to score some next trip.

    And THANK YOU for your comments about Instagram. I just don’t get the fascination with making my photos look like something out of my 1970’s baby/childhood photo book. Aren’t we supposed to marvel in the new technology and how crisp our photos are (without yellow’ing a few years later)? hehe.

  19. gator girl says

    Would someone please arrange an intervention? I own 4 separate items that I can see in a single display in those gift shop shots. In case anyone is wondering, the large spoon/fork things in the pic with the apron are super-cute with the matching serving bowl you can see in that first shot. Which, I guess, makes 5 things I own, as seen this post. Ahem.

    Oh, and also the clear glass tiki-head mug. Because I had a snorting laughter fit the first time I saw the display at the Poly. So…. 6 things. INTERVENTION!!

  20. kjay says

    You say the crowd was probably being told their luau was cancelled. Does this thing get called for weather? I’m obligated to attend this crazy-expensive show later this summer when my family and my sister’s family are both coincidentally going to be at WDW. If they sometimes cancel due to weather, perhaps there’s a light (rain cloud?) at the end of this tunnel…

  21. Debbie says

    We went to Kona Cafe for breakfast in May and they lost our credit card. Well they finally found it but only after about 30 mins. Very scary. I guess the waitress accidently threw it away or something. They did give us our meal free though. The food was good but the experience was very stressfull.

  22. Dan Young says

    I was going to ask you to compare the Kona sushi to the incredible offerings from the California Grill, but I see you already knew the difference. Can’t wait to get back to the CG in September for the Spicy Kazan Roll – YUMMMMM!!!

  23. tanya says

    Those “boozy” glasses are perfect! I may just have to grab a few of those. Good to know about the sushi for my husband…. not for me. That’s a whole world I know nothing about. That and coffee. Clueless.

  24. goodferry says

    Awww, I love the Polynesian too. That is where we stayed with the kids until we became a party of 6, lots of happy memories there! The boozy glasses, are they actual glass? My delicate palate can not drink out of plastic, but I like the looks of those. Instagram, I don’t get it…I have a DSLR so that my picture DON’T look like the ones my gammy took with the Poleroid.

  25. Samantha says

    Just returned from a stay at the Poly….it was great, my favorite resort as well. Kona Cafe is excellent and OMG, I am still craving those Volcano rolls….had them 3 times over a 5 day stay. The only complaint is the sushi bar is understaffed and it takes forever for a to-go order.

  26. Trudy says

    Love Kona Island Sushi Bar as well as the Polynesian as a whole. Thanks for the pictures!! I’m starting to think that popping in to eat at the sushi bar on our arrival day in August would be a good idea.

  27. Melanie says

    We stayed at the Polynesian the time we brought both grandmothers to WDW – then ages 72 & 58. Intent was to stay close to transportation so they could visit Magic Kingdom and Epcot without us. Only time that worked was when we sent them on a garden tour.

    Best part of Poly was the muffins at Captain Cook’s, my daily breakfast treat. They’re not enough to draw us back to the Polynesian though. Not enough to do for the kids.

  28. TriSeb says

    I’ve done Kona for breakfast. It’s a great in and out sit down detour which doesn’t slow down the morning’s plan to get to the park early. However, I hadn’t paid too much attention to the dinner until Josh’s post…. It would appear that you can get the same dinner culinary experience at Kona as you would in Ohana (minus cousins coming around and cutting off a skewer) for less. Interesting…

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