If you enjoy sushi like I do, you crave it. There are places in Walt Disney World to satisfy that craving.
You are best advised to go outside of the Japan pavilion in Epcot and venture into the Polynesian, the Contemporary or the Swan Resort. There you will find Kona Island Sushi Bar, California Grill and Kimonos respectively. Sushi is almost completely absent from the menus of both Teriyaki House and Teppan Edo in Epcot. Aside from an eel roll or the common California roll, there aren’t many sushi choices the Japan Pavilion. I’m guessing that for most families sushi is probably as foreign as the country of Japan itself. Kids may not like it, but what about the adults?
Follow me to the Kona Island Sushi Bar in the Polynesian Resort. It is not the best of the three above mentioned places but it does have it’s unique attributes and strong points.
Let’s start with atmosphere. Located in the second floor lobby of the Great Ceremonial House of the Polynesian Resort, the sushi bar is directly across from the monorail. It is situated immediately to the left of the entrance, on the outside perimeter of the Kona Cafe. (During the daytime, the sushi bar converts to a coffee/pastry bar).
Seating at the sushi bar is extremely limited. There are only about seven stools. Another 10 or so are lined along the window looking out toward the monorail. Originally I had intended to eat at Ohana. I had a reservation but I had arrived early and had also brought along two new friends. After waiting longer than I had liked with a pager in my hand, anticipating that it would soon light up or vibrate or something, it didn’t happen quickly enough for my growling stomach. I turned the pager in and headed over to Kona Island Sushi Bar located just steps away. I lucked out. Four of the seven stools became available almost immediately. The tiki gods were smiling on me.
We took our places around the sushi bar. Surrounded by a view of tikis, a garden with a waterfall, in short by all things Polynesian, the mood is set for a festive, Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii kind of good time.
Next, the quality of the food. Even though the full menu of Kona Cafe is available at the bar, we order sushi. I have eaten sushi many times in my life. I am not expecting a life changing sushi experience.
Kona Island does put their own spin on sushi. Ingredients associated with Polynesia such as pineapple and mango are incorporated into the dishes. Our chef, Dre, served our sushi with impressive presentation accentuating the dish with designs of fruit puree or infused mayo.
We ordered the Volcano Roll which is spicy tuna with tempura crunch. Priced at $13.99 I really like spicy tuna rolls and I always order them. The Volcano Roll satisfied my craving. We also tried the Dragon Hand Roll which is barbecued eel wrapped in rice and covered in seaweed. Hand rolls are large and as the name implies are eaten by hand, not with chopsticks. That was delicious but on the expensive side at $13.99 We also ordered some salmon and yellowtail sashimi. You can not mess that up. The fish was fresh and light. The sushi chef can also make whatever you request if it’s available. Overall, we were pleased with our food. It will satisfy any craving you have for decent sushi. Like I said, my expectations were set to decent and my expectation was met.
What also gives Kona Island Sushi Bar an edge over it’s competitors is the specialty drink menu. It’s awesome that you can get a Mai Tai served in a tiki mug. It definately enhances the fun factor. A variety of sake, wine and beer is also offered. I was offered quite a large sample of sake by the waitress and liked it so I then ordered sake to go with the Mai Tai. Yee haa. (Mai Tai are made with rum and an assortment of tropical fruit juices). Since we were winding down our day and not driving, we mixed and didn’t worry. Priced at $8.25, Mai Tai were a good deal. You do not get to keep the mug, but then again I didn’t ask.
I recommend Kona Island Sushi Bar as a good option for those dining solo, with a date or with a couple of friends. Operating hours are from 5pm-10pm. Kona is great for those seeking sushi served in a fun, casual atmosphere. No reservation is required, just a little luck or alot of patience. Make sure to enjoy what makes Kona Island Sushi Bar special, it’s signature cocktail the Mai Tai.