Last week, we paid a visit to Kona Cafe to try out their latest menu change. Yesterday, the restaurant debuted an additional six new desserts, completing a massive overhaul of the entire menu. Here’s an in-depth look at some of the new items offered, starting with reimagined appetizers, working our way through the new steaks, and finally trying all the new desserts.
Fire Roasted Pork Wings – $12.00
We started off our night with the Fire Roasted Pork Wings. The only difference between these and the prior menu’s famous sticky wings is that the previous wings were chicken. (These are pork.) They’re still coated in the same sauce and thankfully, don’t really taste any different. These are by far the most popular, and our favorite appetizer at Kona Café.
Pork Belly Noodle Bowl – $24.00
We all agreed that the ramen-inspired bowls lacked a lot of flavor and even compared the broth to “dishwasher water”. The bowl was bland and lacked seasoning. The one saving grace for this dish was the pork belly, which was crispy and flavorful.
Char Siu Duck Ramen – $24.00
Similar to the pork belly, this bowl was composed of the same bland and unseasoned ingredients. The duck was again the saving element of the dish, as it was prepared well and had a lot of flavor. We confused the pork belly and the duck as the duck was darker than average, however we were assured that these were the correct dishes.
Poached Chicken Noodle Salad – $18.00
One of the winners of the night was the Poached Chicken Noodle Salad. First and foremost, if you’re not a big fan of cold salads, this dish is NOT for you. All components, including the chicken and the noodles, are served cold. My only big complaint about this dish was that the peanut sauce was hard to taste, causing the salad to lack some flavor. However, the carrot, pepper, and pumpkin made up for the lost flavor adding a good texture and nice balance to the chicken and noodles. Pumpkin is also an incredibly rare thing to find in a salad, so I loved the adventurous take on the included veggies.
10-oz. Verlasso Salmon Steak – $28.00
The Salmon Steak served with seaweed salad was popular amongst the table. Even as someone who isn’t a huge seafood fan, the bite that I tried was tender, well prepared, and didn’t have an overpowering fishy taste. Pairing this with one of the sides, such as asparagus, could make for a large portioned, delicious meal for one or even two.
Hawaiian Style Reuben – $18.00
Another winner for the night was the Hawaiian Style Reuben. The kimchi gave it a really delicious kick, and the root vegetables worked with the mustard tomato aioli to give an interesting flavor. The one downside to this dish was the Kalua pork, which wasn’t very noticeable and lacked any presence in the sandwich. Other than that, we loved this dish and were impressed with the portion size of fries it came with.
14-oz. Prime New York Strip – $42.00
The New York Strip was the winner of the two steaks we had. It was cooked to temperature, buttery, tender, and really had a melt in your mouth chew to it. It also paired well with the small portioned, yet strongly flavored side salad that accompanied it. All that being said, you shouldn’t be getting a steak at Kona Cafe.
8-oz. Black Angus Beef Tenderloin – $38.00
The Beef Tenderloin wasn’t ideal. It was a butterflied slice (which you shouldn’t do to the steak without asking the person who ordered it) and had a very crispy outside with a pink and tender inside. Before cutting into it, we assumed it had been overcooked to well doneness, however, after cutting it, we realized it actually was cooked to order. While I wasn’t entirely impressed, the seasoning and rub gave it a great taste and it was tender and easy to eat.
Side of Mashed Potatoes – $8.00
We weren’t impressed with the mashed potatoes. They were far over-seasoned and didn’t contain any dairy, giving them a dry and forgettable taste. They were basically a liquid, I could have drank the plate with a straw. Mashed potatoes go well with just about any protein, however, I’d recommend a veggie pairing such as the grilled asparagus.
Side of Grilled Asparagus – $8.00
Very salty, but otherwise well prepared.
Poly-Churri Sauce – $3.00
The accompanying sauces are an additional $3 each, which is pretty unreasonable given steak prices, especially for someone who would pay $95 for the Perfect Steak entrée. They did come in a massive boat that was plenty to share around the table, however the price is still steep for sauce. The Poly-Churri sauce went really well with the beef tenderloin and even better with the New York Strip. It was zesty, had a good kick to it, and added excellent flavor to the steak entrees.
The main event of the night was the six new desserts that debuted. Strawberry Champagne, Tiramisu, S’mores, Banana Rum Trifle, Tapioca, and Key Lime were all included in the dessert plate that the servers presented to the table in place of a traditional menu. If you see one you like, you simply ask for it and they take it off the plate and it becomes yours. If multiple people order the same flavor, the server presents one and returns to the kitchen to get the rest of them. I like this new style a lot because it gives guests a chance to see portion size and presentation of the dessert before choosing one.
Banana Rum Trifle – $5.00
The Banana Rum Trifle was by far the winner of the six new desserts. This one is one of the three alcoholic desserts and contains a dark spiced rum pipette that you can squeeze yourself. If alcohol isn’t your thing, this dessert can also be made without it (by simply removing the pipette). The dessert was creamy, chewy, and crunchy all at the same time. The banana caramel on top added a chewy texture, while the chocolate ganache in the center worked with the banana pastry cream to form the main portion of the dessert. Finally, the chocolate pearls added a much-needed crunch to the dessert. This dessert was very heavy on the banana flavoring, but it worked well to cover the alcoholic taste.
S’mores – $5.00
The S’mores dessert was the favorite non-alcoholic dessert of the night. Marshmallow fluff, chocolate pot de crème, graham cracker crumbles, and a toasted marshmallow topping gave this dessert a unique twist on an otherwise average flavor.
Strawberry Champagne – $5.00
My personal favorite was a big surprise. The Strawberry Champagne dessert is the only new offering that cannot be made non-alcoholic as the champagne is already mixed into the Greek yogurt. The desert was rather simple, being composed of just strawberries, champagne, and Greek yogurt, but I felt as though the flavor was unique and unlike your typical strawberry flavor. I’d absolutely recommend sharing something like this on a date night.
Tiramisu – $5.00
The Tiramisu is a solid choice, especially for coffee fans. It’s nicely presented with whipped cream, coffee beans, and a Kahlua pipette to squeeze into the dessert (which can also be removed, if desired.)The flavors worked well and if you’re a coffee fan, I’d recommend it. If not, I’d certainly consider a different option as I felt the coffee flavor was a tad strong in this dessert.
Tapioca – $5.00
The Tapioca was an adventurous option. The fresh fruit on top made for a really pleasing presentation and the pineapple compote mixed in gave even more fruity flavor to this unique and different dessert. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. Do note that this is a vegan-friendly dessert option, as it is made with coconut milk!
Key Lime – $5.00
To everyone’s surprise, the Key Lime was the loser of the night. The key lime curd was buried at the bottom, and the passion fruit curd was layered on top, divided by orange marmalade. The passion fruit boba was unappetizing and off-putting. Even after mixing the curds together, we still tasted an extremely overpowering mango taste that didn’t even remotely taste like key lime. There was an extremely thin layer of graham cracker at the bottom, but it didn’t add any texture to the dessert because it was virtually undetectable. Overall, this dessert looks like something out of Pandora and is very passable.
The new options at Kona are impressive and we enjoyed most of the dishes we were served. The Kona Cafe menu changes very frequently, however for now, it remains a great table service option and fantastic value for the Disney Dining Plan.