O'Hana - Polynesian Resort - Review

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The last time I ate at O'Hana may have been 1998 when my family came to visit at Thanksgiving during my College Program. My (older and wiser) cousin had set that meal up for our huge extended family, appropriate for this restaurant where everyone is welcomed as "cousins." The only thing I can really remember from that meal (besides the company) was the pineapple with warm caramel sauce we had for dessert.

The meal would probably have been wasted on the kids last time at $18.00 a pop. Connor would have eaten for free and judging how well he did at places like Biergarten where he double fisted sausages, he may have made up for the complete lack of appetite his sister was famous for on that trip. This time, I knew it would be a home run. I thought all you care to eat meats would go over very well with the boy who often orders steak tips. I was not as sure about the girl who declares herself a vegetarian and then craves bacon. She is more chicken resistant than anything, but with the noodles, salad, and her stand out favorite shrimp as options, I thought we might have success here. Steve is my meat and potatoes guy, so this I predicted would be his favorite meal of the trip. 

After swimming for over an hour on our FIRST DAY we dragged Caroline out the the pool to prep for dinner. We hit out first snag of the trip, one I had at least been anticipating, with the monorail being down during the time we needed to get over to the Polynesian. (The monorail is scheduled to be down between 11:30am and 7:00pm weekdays until the end of March. This closure does not affect the Epcot monorail.) My plan when I thought about this through was to take the quick boat from Wilderness Lodge to Contemporary and then the monorail to the Polynesian. I had envisioned this being a fun experience for the kids; a boat AND the monorail in one trip. Instead, we took the boat to Magic Kingdom and I thought it would be no big deal that time of day to catch a resort launch across the lagoon. Our ADR was for 5:10pm and we left ourselves an hour to get there. 

First - the getting there
We dragged a tired Caroline onto the boat where she promptly curled up into a ball and announced she wanted to go to sleep. Realizing our fatal error of no fewer than 100 trips down the slide, Steve and I gave her a quick pep talk, reminded her that this was dinner and it was important and it would be fun because "hey, look Space Mountain! Cinderella's Castle!"
We made great time getting to MK, but were met with a line that went all the way to the resort launch sign and was at least a two boat wait. This was not a part of the plan. Lesson here is: If you are planning a meal at O'Hana during this monorail refurbishment, plan accordingly. We were surrounded by well dressed little ones headed back to the Grand Floridian and when we did hop onto our boat, we were cutting it really close. Polynesian was of course, the second stop. I distracted the kids by convincing them that was real volcano over at the Polynesian. By the time we were disembarking, my cousin had already arrived and had kindly checked us in. Having no idea where to go once we got there, we found our way to a cast member in the lobby to ask directions. He pointed us towards the stairs and we arrived completely out of breath and definitely hungry. 

The Meal
It was approximately the heat of the sun in the restaurant. This continued on and off throughout the trip. On cooler days, we were greeted with heat in many of the theaters and attractions. This made Steve very grumpy. We were quite comfortable with the weather, but these Floridians were bundled up and shivering. When I say it warm there, this should mean something because I am always cold. It was hot. Caroline again balled herself up in the corner, begging to sleep.

Here is a way too small to read screen grab of the menu ($18.03 for kids and $36.20 for adults):

The meal was excellent. Caroline heaped salad, noodles, and shrimp onto her plate, but due to her exhaustion ate very little. It was one of our sad parenting moments where we give in with the phone WAY earlier than we wanted to. Connor filled his plate with chicken wings, chicken, beef, and pork and based on what I was cutting for him, the big hit was the beef. Food was brought nearly immediately and continued that way throughout our meal.

When I asked Steve what he liked best about this meal it went something like this; "Those dumplings, and what else was the starter? Yes, the wings, those were unbelievable. What was the other side they had? YES!! The NOODLES! What was on those noodles?!?" My meat loving husband stands firm that he liked the SIDES better than the actual main course. I am pretty flabbergasted. He definitely enjoyed the meats, the pork in particular, but the sides were the big stand out hits for him.

I loved the salad, the dressing was different and quite refreshing. I love all things dumpling, so those were a hit for me too. I had trouble with the wings because I was spending so much time helping Connor get the meat off the bone as he was for whatever reason opposed to getting his hands dirty at that moment that by the time I got a quick taste, the meat skewers were already coming around. I reluctantly pushed those absolutely amazing noodles aside to make room for all that yummy meat goodness. I could have eaten my weight in noodles, but I wanted to try everything. My favorite skewers were the steak and shrimp. The steak was well seasoned and cooked the way I like it. The shrimp was a little bit of work as it was not peeled, but I like anything that I need to work for a little bit. It was worth the peeling and fussing with tails.

The kids weren't too interested in the bread pudding dessert, they had ice cream instead, but I for one felt like I needed to put on a pig nose after the serving I had. If we hadn't been in a restaurant, I would have licked my plate. It was that good.

For me, this was a great way to kick off the trip. We were full, we had seen the castle, and Caroline was even brave enough to go ALONE to the center of the restaurant for the Birthday Song. (The complete lack of interest in coconut race participation totally bummed me out because I thought at least one of them would be all about it.) We had planned on a dole whip and some firework watching, but tired kids brought us back to the Wilderness Lodge a bit earlier than planned.

I think this was my favorite meal of the trip; entertaining, delicious, lots of things to try, and a fun atmosphere. Steve ranks this meal as a tie for his favorite. He thinks he wasn't really in a "Disney mood yet," (seriously, my non-Disney husband said this?) and that it might have been better if we had done it later in the trip. Connor definitely enjoyed the food and I think if the girl had less swim time, she would have been more focused on her plate. I love the idea of this as the first night meal, but it might work better for a Magic Kingdom meal break or a stand alone selection on a non-park day. We enjoyed it and I am quite sure that it will land on our next itinerary, just maybe in a different spot.

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