No true Walt Disney World® Resort comeback is complete without Ohana at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. It is not the same exact Ohana as before, as though breakfast ($15 for children, $34.99 for adults) and dinner ($35 for children, $59.99 for adults), there is a new menu. Dishes are currently being served family-style rather than by bringing brought out on giant skewers, though it is still all-you-cars-to-enjoy.
Fortunately, much of the restaurant’s identity is still intact, and some of the new dishes are even better than the old ones (and yes, the noodles are still as good as ever).
The Tambu Lounge
One of the most magical elements to the entire experience was the outstanding service at the bar located just outside the restaurant. We sat there after getting to our reservation and enjoyed a couple drinks early, as the price is not included in that of the meal. The pineapple-hosting Lapu Lapu, the Backscratcher and many other favorites make their return and are just as good as ever. The bartenders are outstanding, alert and accommodating, making the place you start your meal the gold standard for Disney service.
The Many Courses
The restaurant's layout has remained identical, maintaining the same outstanding theming and all-you-care-to-enjoy style of dining it has held for years. The changes begin with the bread service, as gone are the days of the pineapple-laden bread and in are the days of 'Ohana Coconut-Papaya Scones and Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits. I was always a fan of the old bread, but this one blue it out the water, especially in the scones' case. The biscuits were good, if not a bit standard for what you might expect, but the scones were loaded with chunks of papaya and brushed with coconut in a way that prevented them from being overpowered by any one ingredient. In a power ranking of Disney's best bread service, these scones elevate 'Ohana toward the top. The salad brought with initial course is great too, and while I loved the original, this simple-but-great change is a worthy substitution.
The following chicken wings and dumplings made for my favorite course. The chicken wings, unaltered in all their sticky glory, are the singular best item on the menu (even better than the noodles). The dumplings were great too, and though the peanut sauce was missed, the new garlic-chili sauce they are lightly tossed in adds enough texture and taste to keep them moist and flavorful.
The mains were, for the most part, just as good. The iconic 'Ohana noodles are just as phenomenal as I remembered, and, combined with the wings, almost make up for the price of entry alone. The Roasted Eight-way Chicken with Polynesian-inspired Chimichurri Sauce was to die for, and outshines every grilled meat previously on the original menu. The sauce adds a lightness and level to sophistication that elevates an already-perfect piece of meat. The Woodfire-grilled Teriyaki Beef and Roasted Broccolini were a little tough, but tasted phenomenal, while the Kielbasa Sausage impressed with layered flavor. The Island Shrimp Casserole with Herbed Breadcrumbs has been of hot debate, and I moderately enjoyed it despite my reservations. The plate we got was loaded with shrimp and potatoes, a clear adjustment to the earliest diners who got measly portions of each, though the flavor was little more than cheese and breadcrumbs. While I did enjoy it, this was the one item our table did not finish, and is the only one I would ask them to hold off of on my text time so I could spare the room for everything else (mainly more noodles, wings and roasted chicken).
The 'Ohana Bread Pudding comes complete with its caramel sauce and is as decadent and perfect as ever, and I ordered a hand-pressed Joffrey's Kona Blend coffee ($9 extra, but it is enough for the whole table) to wrap the meal.
'Ohana is different, but it is still a standout. Even as my only meal for the entire day, I still left stuffed and satisfied in the money spent for the quality of the meal. Once you can get past the adjustment that years of favorite food has been altered to a different selection, it is easy to enjoy the new items, especially when some are better than the old ones.