Hope ya'll are having a great summer so far! It's certainly a HOT one here in Central Florida. Yipes! But that created the perfect excuse to escape the heat by staying inside of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, and enjoying dinner at one of our family's favorite restaurants, 'Ohana.
Now, 'Ohana is a bit of a Disney phenomenon. It's been wildly popular for many years now and is often seemingly impossible to get a reservation at. But like all Disney restaurants, it does experience some changes every now and then... some positive, some not-so-much. We typically hit up 'Ohana a couple of times a year, since, regardless of slight changes, it's pretty consistent at having awesome food, and a very cool atmosphere. We also had occasion to celebrate, since my daughter was in her very first on-stage musical production, and she did an awesome job, so 'Ohana it was!
|The view out of 'Ohana's windows|
Being locals, we do have the benefit of being able to be a little flexible with our schedule, and therefore, more likely to be able to nab a last minute reservation for some of the more coveted Disney restaurants and that was the case for this night. We booked the reservation that same day we visited, and we were more than happy to take a relatively late reservation, as it meant that we would still be seated when it was time for the Magic Kingdom's evening fireworks. If you didn't already know, 'Ohana has a great, panoramic view of the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks, along with the Electrical Water Pageant. This is a rare deal, as the only other restaurants with similar views are Narcoossee's at The Grand Floridian and California Grill at The Contemporary. You may have to dine a little later than you normally would, but it's totally worth it! They even pipe the music into the restaurant so that you can fully enjoy the show!
|Tikis decorate the restaurant|
We arrived at the Polynesian about 15 minutes before our reservation, knowing that we would likely still have to wait a bit, and we did. We were actually called into the restaurant to eat about 15 minutes after our reservation time, which wasn't too bad. (I have waited over an hour past my reservation at 'Ohana before.) As we walked into the restaurant, our greeter gave us our quick Hawaiian lesson, telling us that ohana means "family, "aloha" means hello/goodbye/love and that mahalo means "thank you". Normally the greeter stops by the first window and collects some signature 'Ohana pineapple coconut bread and butter to bring to your table. Because my kiddo has food allergies, they always skip this until we talk with the chef. We totally get it, but walking past that delicious bread and not getting any is such a tease. The greeter also showed us the open fire pit where the meats are cooked, and gave a quick, "Aloooooooo-haa!", to the chefs.
|'Ohana bread and butter|
Non-alcoholic beverages are included in the all-you-care-to-eat pricing at 'Ohana. Choices include coffee, tea, iced tea, juices, milk, lemonade and Coke products, and all are refillable. The bread is a real treat, as it is fresh-baked, slightly sweet and goes great with a bit of butter on it. Once you get your drinks on the table, your server will explain to you that you'll have a main server that takes care of your food and meats, and an assistant server who takes care of clearing plates and getting refills. The menu is pre-set and you can have as much as you like. Everything is delivered to the table for you. Appetizers and side items come in family-style bowls and pans and the entree meats are served off of skewers, right from the fire. And my very best advice for 'Ohana is: PACE YOURSELF. It is so easy to fill up on the delicious bread and appetizers, and have almost no room left for the meats, but you WANT to have room for the meat... not to mention, dessert! You may want to wear your stretchy pants for this meal.
So, one of the frequent changes to the 'Ohana menu is the salad. Over the years they have had a mixed garden salad with honey-lime dressing, an Asian-inspired salad with passionfruit dressing, and a few other versions. This one was different from the last time I was there. They brought back the honey-lime dressing, which I LOVE and have been known to make at home, but they switched the salad itself out to field greens instead of a romaine or iceberg mix. Personally, I am not a fan of leafy greens. They are a little too 'fresh-mowed-lawn' tasting for me. The salad was also very bare, with only the greens and a few fried wontons on top. I was super disappointed in this reimagining of the salad and none of us ended up eating any of it. No worries, though. There was plenty more to indulge in!
|Noodles, wings and veggies|
Up next to the table was the wok full of honey-coriander chicken wings, sauteed veggies, pork dumplings, and lo mein noodles, accompanied by a sweet and sour sauce and a peanut sauce. This is the good stuff and where we always get taken down by over-filling ourselves. The veggies are fresh and tasty, cooked only in light oil and a dusting of seasoning. I love water chestnuts and there are plenty in the mix, along with red peppers, baby corn, broccoli, and onions. The noodles are my son's favorite. Since he was a baby he has been gobbling these bad boys up like someone might take them away. I have pictures of him as a two-year-old with fistfuls of noodles, going to town. He pretty much still eats them that way as an almost seven-year-old too. They are pretty plain but they somehow have this magical sweet-salty thing going on from the teriyaki-like flavor. SO good and sooooo filling. The chicken wings are my husband's jam. He can easily polish off a few dozen of them. They are baked in a honey-coriander sauce that is again a nice mix of savory and sweet. These, too, we got the recipe for and often make them at home because they are just THAT good. Then there are the dumplings. Those are my jam. They are pork and veggie-filled dumpling, that usually come with a light coating of the sweet and sour sauce on them. I prefer them without the sauce, so I always ask for a separate bowl of them, sauce-free.
|"Oh we're going to the Hukilau.."|
As we enjoyed the appetizers and side items, one of 'Ohana's performers roamed the restaurant and played the ukulele and sang Hawaiian songs. There are a couple of different performers that do this there, and they also occasionally offer hula lessons and coconut races for the kids, though none of that was done while we were there. Perhaps it's only done earlier in the night, or only on weekends.
Shortly after getting our appetizer platter, our server started coming around with the skewers of meats that are flame-roasted in the fire pit. There was steak, chicken, and shrimp. Each protein was cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. My daughter's favorite was the shrimp, while the rest of us favored the steak. It was cooked to a nice medium temperature and has a tasty marinade on it. (There are also the peanut and sweet and sour sauces on the table that you can enjoy with the meats, as well.)
|Oooo....a nice medium!|
Once we had had all the steak, chicken and shrimp we could handle, it was time for dessert! Now, dessert at 'Ohana is something truly special.... a family-size portion of bread pudding, made out of the fabulous pineapple-coconut bread, topped with a caramel and banana sauce, and a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream! They also bring out crispy rice treats with Mickey sprinkles on them for kids (and adults) to enjoy. We also got a little bonus... because my little dude is allergic to eggs, at his request, they brought him a cup of Dole Whip from the Pineapple Lanai from downstairs. My son was sooooo happy. Dole Whip is his jam!
|Crispy rice treats|
As we sat happily eating our desserts, The Magic Kingdom fireworks started and we had a great view! They pipe the music into the restaurant and turn the lights down so you can really enjoy the experience. By the time the show was over we were too. Over-stuffed, over-tired and over-spent. 'Ohana is not an inexpensive meal by any means. It averages about $60 per adult, depending on the season. Pricey... but soooo worth it. Though I was sad about the minor changes to some items, overall the meal was still tasty and one of our favorites. We will try it again in a year or so.
So... do you love 'Ohana too? Never tried it? Well, get your butt down here! The agents at Kingdom Konsultant Travel will be more than happy to get you booked!
In the meantime, have a magical week, Disney Fans!