‘Ohana is an Hawaiian restaurant, located on the monorail level of the Polynesian Resort. For us this was a first – we’d never been here before and really it was just luck that we ended up here at all. We wanted to spend our first day at Magic Kingdom and not head back to the hotel, which left us with a dining problem. We don’t ‘do’ character meals and for us, there is not really a good alternative for a table service meal located within the park. When I first planned our days, I intended that we would just have quick service, but a few months down the line, I decided that we would probably need a break from the park (actually I decided when I was writing an article about jet lag for WDW Fan Zone!) Extending our search to the monorail hotels, I had a few choices, but ‘Ohanas won out, despite a few nerves that it would be a little loud and boisterous for us.
Our reservation was at 5:25 and we arrived about 15 minutes prior to that. We didn’t exactly get off to a brilliant start. We were in a queue of only 4 people but evidently there appeared to be a problem with the person at the front. And despite there being a number of cast members milling around the podium, it took until past our reservation time for someone else to step in and start checking the rest of the queue in (which was by now, much longer!) We then waited about ten minutes for our table to be called.
We were walked through the restaurant, our bread collected on the way and placed at a table immediately next to the great fire-pit that is in the middle. Unfortunately, our cast member or “cousin” didn’t really speak English very well, and although he asked if we’d been before, he didn’t explain anything once we told him that we hadn’t. A combination of me knowing that the food was family-style (another first for us) and us watching the tables around us made us realise that we should jut stay put and let the food come to us!
So, first up… the bread. It was just left on our table and as there was no butter or anything, we weren’t really too sure if we should just dive in or not. But we did, and yum yum yum. The bread is so good. Really light, and flavoursome. We weren’t told what it was, but I belive it was pineapple bread. Very tasty.
Shortly after that the salad arrived at the table. This is just fresh lettuce (no tomatoes, cucumber etc) and was coated in a dressing. Once again, we weren’t sure if we weren’t meant to dig in and this was a salad course type thing, or wait until everything else arrived (in the UK, it would usualy be served with the meal, not ahead of it, but I wasn’t too sure in the US). I was starving so I figured I’d just go ahead and eat it, since nothing else seemed to be arriving! And wow! The honey and lime dressing is the best salad dressing I’ve ever had. Seriously I could have just kept on eating it – and it was the first recipe I’ve looked up since we got back – I definitely plan to give it a go. Totally yummy.
So up until this point, things had been kind of slow – we’d waited ages for the drinks, polished off the bread and waited a while for the salad and then finished that up and started hoping we would be getting something else soon. Well we got our wish, suddenly it was all go, go go..! We were sitting at a two-seater table and there was so much food brought they had trouble fitting it on. A giant bowl of noodles, stir-fried broccoli (blatantly the token vegetable in an otherwise meat-biased meal) chicken wings and pork dumplings (think Chinese style). It was all really tasty – the noodles especially were just delicious and the pork dumplings went really well with these. I have to say we didn’t really do the rest justice. The broccoli stood no chance with everything else there was to eat and given the skewers that were also arriving, the chicken wings seemed a little pointless to us when chicken was available skewer style as well.
Just as the cast members had placed that lot down on our table, we began getting offers of meat and prawns from the skewers. I have never, in all my life seen skewers like this. I was expecting the pokey little individual wooden ones you can by from the supermarket. These are huge great metal rods, that are full of piece after piece of meat or prawn that have been cooked over the giant fire pit that is in the centre of the restaurant. Your ‘cousin’ brings them to your table and asks how many pieces you want and then knocks off that amount (plus a bit more!) onto your plate and moves on to the next table. There were 4 different options – steak, shrimp (what we’d call prawns), chicken and pork. The chicken and pork were both just ok – the bigger pieces of chicken were succulent and tasty but the smaller pieces were very dry. However the prawn and the steak were just heavenly. I think really it was a good job it took me a while to peel the prawns, as it managed to slow me down a bit, I just couldn’t stop eating them. The steak was cooked to perfection – blacked at the edge and pink in the middle, it just melted in the mouth – although I overhead a few cast members requesting well done versions from the pit, so I assume you could ask for it to be cremated if that’s how you prefer your steak. Dipping sauces were also provided – peanut sauce, sweet n sour and one that I couldn’t figure out. All tasted great though and gave the meal some extra flavour – although it didn’t really need it.
Now here is where I think we lucked out with one of the best tables in the house! We were seated just to the side of the firepit. At first we just thought this offered us a fun view – and a little extra warmth! But no, it was so much better than that! Evidently, the cast members are meant to try and empty their skewers before they take them back to the kitchen at the pit – makes sense, they don’t want wasted food. We found that not only were our two servers offering us the skewers on a very regular basis, pretty much every other cast member was doing the same, stopping by us to see if we wanted the last few left on their sticks. We could barely go a couple of mouthfuls before being offered more. You would think this would be disruptive to the meal but the place is fairly noisy and as its part of the style of the restaurant, it just felt like some really excellent service. On top of that, my hubby asked our server if he had any more steak at the start of the meal, which our server appeared to take as a personal challenge – he literally wouldn’t pass anywhere near us without emptying a couple of extra pieces on my hubby’s plate. He literally had to beg him to stop in the end – still ate it tho He also asked my hubby how many shrimp he wanted on the first swing round, to which my hubby said ‘however many is normal’ which was followed by 10 of things landing on his plate – he got a a little more specific after that.
When we had eaten so much that we both felt a little bit ill, we finished up. However, we’d forgotten about dessert! After clearing the plates, a bowl of bread and butter pudding was placed between us. I hate this stuff – brings back memories of school dinners where it was heavy enough to sink a ship, so I thought I’d be good to pass. It came with a scoop of ice cream and a jug of banana and caramel sauce. For blogging purposes I planned to have just one bite. Again, all I can say is wow! This stuff is incredible! So light and just scrumptious. Even the vanilla ice cream tasted particularly good. We were given two spoons and between us we nearly ate the lot – and considering how much steak and prawn we’d just consumed, that was a serious feat!
At which point we paid up and waddled on back to the monorail to go watch Wishes, both of us holding our tummies and saying how we really should have eaten less. Over that first week, it became obvious that ‘Ohana was going to be a 1-credit meal that was hard to beat. So much so in fact that we decided that we were just going to have to fit in another meal there. Getting a reservation that close however was going to take lots of trips to the concierge and eventually booking a late meal at Sanaa, so that we had a back-up option, but going to ‘Ohanas first to see if we could get a walk-up. We were told we could, but it was a ninety minute wait. Seeing as our Sanaa reservation was 2 hours away, we figured we might as well take it and so hubby ordered us some cocktails at the next door Tamu Lounge, while I nipped downstairs to the concierge to cancel Sanaa.
Well the cocktails were yummy! Hubby had a Captain’s Mai Tai which was Captain Morgan rum, amaretto, tropical juices and dark rum. It was nicely presented with a umbrella, orange, cherries and pineapple (very manly, haha!) I don’t like almonds so the amaretto meant that this one wasn’t for me, but my hubby’s verdict was that he would definitely have it again. I had the Ginger Lemonade, which was pineapple vodka, lemonade, ginger and grenadine. It was really good, nice and fruity with the ginger and grenadine coming through just enough to give it a nice tang. We followed those up by sharing a Lapu Lapu – the one you’ll see loads of people drinking as it is served in a pineapple. It was dark rum and tropical fruit juices, topped off with more Bacardi rum. It was ok, and was fun to try but I think we both preferred our original choices – it was also almost the same cost as our first two combined. Neither of us are big drinkers and these are much stronger than we’re used to (as all cocktails seem to be in Disney compared to the UK). I was definitely a little bit drunk by the time our reservation was called!
Our second round at ‘Ohana was definitely less successful. We found the food to be very similar to our first visit – the bread, salad, noodles, steak, shrimp and bread-pudding were the best items. This time we knew better to eat less of the rest and have more of those. However we’d been placed around the back of the pit this time and the service was appalling. We had to ask several times to get our drinks re-filled and we only got more meat when we managed to track a server down and ask for it. I don’t know what our two servers were doing, but they definitely weren’t waiting on us or the tables around us.
Despite this, we still loved it, if only for the steak and prawns (and noodles and salad) and will definitely be making a couple of stops to ‘Ohana on our next trip (my hubby says 4 visits but we’ll argue that at that time).
- Would we go there again? Yes
- Would we do it twice in one trip? Yes (and did!)
- My rating: 8/10
- Hubby’s rating: 9/10