by Beth Keating
November 5, 2022
The Polynesian Resort at Disney World has welcomed back the newly renovated Kona Café after a brief hiatus for a remodel and a freshening of its décor. A new portico signals the entryway to the second floor restaurant, and blends the café’s theming with the rest of the Polynesian’s refurbished ambiance.
Fans of Tonga Toast will be thrilled to know that the cult-favorite still retains its place at the top of the breakfast menu, and much of the eatery’s lunch and dinner offerings remain the same, with perhaps an increase in the variety of sushi offerings and a new plant-based option.
Kona Café is a relaxed tropical venue with an Asian inspired menu that also offers some traditional American meals for less adventurous eaters. For your dining entertainment, Kona features an onstage sushi kitchen where you can see the chefs prepping meals with creativity and amazing speed.
The vibe of this sit-down restaurant is casual but very upbeat. The energy level is high due perhaps to the fact that it is not only a very family-friendly location, but also because the front of the restaurant is open to the soaring central atrium of the Polynesian’s Great Ceremonial House. You are in on all the surrounding action, with guests coming and going to the nearby monorail entrance. (This also makes Kona a great mid-day getaway from the parks, since it is just a short monorail ride away, and offers some excellent air conditioning and great food for your lunch or dinner break, before heading back to the parks.).
You can book advance dining reservations for Kona Café, and it’s probably your best idea because the hours for Kona are a bit scattered. Breakfast is served 7:30 am to 11:00 am, and then the kitchen is closed for a half hour until lunch service begins from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm. Another, longer break takes place before dinner is dished up, with seating available from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
It’s safe to say that the reason many returning Disney diners are heading to Kona Café for breakfast is to treat themselves to the legendary Tonga Toast ($17.00). What? You say you don’t know what Tonga Toast is? It’s an enormous, banana-stuffed sourdough French Toast rolled in Cinnamon-Sugar, then drizzled with a strawberry compote. Some people’s Disney vacation isn’t complete without it! For those seeking a less sugar-induced entrée to fuel their Disney park day, there are also a variety of egg, French Toast and oatmeal centric dishes. Another yummy and unusual tropically-themed dish for your consideration is the macadamia nut pancakes with pineapple sauce ($15.00).
Lunch offers a selection of hand-rolled sushi options ($16.00-$28.00), which you can watch the chefs preparing in the open view kitchen. There are also poke bowls ($22.00), dashi noodle bowls ($22.00-$24.00), or stir fry ($24.50). The Big Kahuna Burger ($24.00) is waiting for those looking for something a little less “seven seas” influenced.
For dinner, the sushi rolls are joined by heartier entrées like Kona-braised short ribs ($38.00), New York Strip steak ($40.00), Verlasso Salmon ($29.00) or Asian-marinated Airline Chicken ($24.00).
Guests 21 and over can enjoy fruity island cocktails in addition to three different specialty beers from Hawaii. (Try the Lapu Lapu, $19.50, a tropical juice and rum concoction served in a whole, fresh pineapple. You will really feel like you are on vacation!)
Oh, and make sure you save room for dessert. In addition to a number of small “dessert glasses” full of sweet treats ($5.00), you’ll want to try the delicious Pineapple-Coconut Bread Pudding ($12.00), a warm bread pudding served with melty vanilla ice cream topped with caramel sauce that is eerily reminiscent of the bread pudding served across the way at ‘Ohana. We’ve visited Kona just to get our forks on that little bowl!
Welcome back, Kona Café – we’ve missed you!
Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.