REVIEW: ‘Ohana Dinner Disappoints Following Menu Revamp

    UPDATE (8/17): After a month with the menu below, Disney changed the menu and brought back some old favorites. For an updated review, check out our article below.

    REVIEW: ‘Ohana Dinner Brings Back Old Favorites, Returns to Glory at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
    Disney has changed the ‘Ohana menu again and we’re back at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort take a look at the changes in our ‘Ohana review
    blogmickey.com

    Earlier today, ‘Ohana reopened to guests after more than a year of closure due to COVID-19. The dining location is offering a character-less breakfast as well as a revamped dinner with new menu items. In this ‘Ohana dinner review, we’ll take a look at the new and returning items to see how ‘Ohana stacks up in 2021.

    Price and New Menu

    During our July 2021 ‘Ohana dinner review, here were the prices:

    • $55 per adult, plus tax and gratuity
    • $33 per child, plus tax and gratuity

    The menu is structured as an all-you-care-to-eat family-style meal.

    Check-in and Theming

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    Located on the second floor of The Great Ceremonial House lobby building at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, ‘Ohana is the same as you remember. An open floorplan offers wonderful views of the lush surroundings and main pool area. Many tables have a view across Seven Seas Lagoon and Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom can be seen off in the distance. If you dine late enough, you are offered a wonderful view of the Happily Ever After nighttime fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    As far as check-in goes, there is a podium with a Cast Member staffed during dinner hours, but Disney will prefer if you check-in via the My Disney Experience app. Following COVID-19, Disney has pushed as many interactions and procedures into the app as possible. From resort room check-in to ordering quick service meals in the parks and hotels, you’ll want to become familiar with the My Disney Experience app. As a matter of fact, there is a scannable QR code that encourages guests to use the app before interacting with a Cast Member. It’s a relatively simple process and you’ll get a notification through the app and even a text message should you elect to when your table is ready.

    Starters

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    Once seated, you’ll be presented with bread and salad as a starter. ‘Ohana is a four-course meal that, depending on the pace, can feel like one long event.

    It’s with the bread that we find our first change in the menu. Out with the Pineapple-Coconut bread and in with a combination plate of ‘Ohana Coconut-Papaya Scones and Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits.

    We found the Coconut-Papaya scones to be wonderfully soft and flavorful. We weren’t overwhelmed by coconut. There’s no doubt that these blow the old Pineapple-Coconut offering out of the water.

    On the other hand, we found the Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits to be a bit dry on their own. The honey butter certainly helped both of the breads, but of the two, the scones certainly were enjoyable on their own.

    Moving on to the Mixed Greens Salad. We found this to be a robust salad with a delicious citrus dressing. While we are off to a good start so far, the goal in past ‘Ohana visits has never been to dwell too much on starters – instead focusing on the main course.

    Wings and Dumplings

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    After giving you some time to settle in with the starters, Cast Members will bring over Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings and Pork Dumplings tossed in a Garlic-Chili sauce.

    The Honey-Coriander wings are as we remembered – sticky and sweet. Wonderfully cooked, the wings are easy to get distracted with. You’ll get a combo of drums and flats here, and ours were served piping hot. Delicious!

    We’ve previously spoken quite highly of the Pork Dumplings, but we’ll start to see how some of Disney’s choices with the new menu add up to a less than exciting meal.

    Because of the prevalence of nut allergies, Disney has removed the peanut sauce that used to come with this round of eats. They also decided to do away with the sweet and sour sauce and “toss” the dumplings in a garlic-chili sauce. Unfortunately, there really is no flavor from the garlic-chili sauce (if it was even tossed at all), and some of the dumplings were dry.

    We asked if Disney was offering the sweet and sour sauce as an off-menu option and we were told that there are no sauces offered at all and that the flavor should be present as part of the cooking process. That’s not to say that the dumplings were bad, they were perfectly acceptable, but the lack of sauce option was a bit confusing. Perhaps this will change in the coming months should other opinions align with what we experienced.

    One of the great controversies of the ‘Ohana reopening was the lack of noodles in the initial menu release. As a matter of fact, Disney added the noodles back onto the menu shortly after the initial announcement, perhaps due to social media backlash.

    Previously, noodles would be on the table at this point, but following the menu refresh, the noodles are brought out with the main course next.

    Meats, Noodles, Shrimp Casserole, and More

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    After doing our best to pace ourselves as per ‘Ohana conventional wisdom, we are now face-to-face with perhaps the most divisive menu item (pictured above, left) – the shrimp casserole.

    Fans of ‘Ohana will remember that servers used to come around the restaurant with skewers stacked with steak, chicken, and shrimp. Now, we have a shrimp casserole. Beneath an insane amount of breadcrumbs, you’ll find a rather bland casserole with roughly 3-4 shrimp per person.

    Really, there is no way to overstate how devastating of a decision this shrimp casserole is. Previously, the shrimp was one of the highlights for many people that we took to ‘Ohana. Yes, the previous peel-and-eat concept of the shrimp could be seen as cumbersome, but the end result was a wonderfully seasoned shrimp that was a delicious reward at the end of the peeling. What stands before us now isn’t even the slimmest shadow of what was, and there are no redeeming qualities. Managers we spoke with were quite receptive to feedback, and we expect to see some changes in taste in the coming weeks and months, but we don’t expect to see a change in presentation.

    Moving on to the other skillet on the table, we have a busy assortment of roasted eight-way chicken, kielbasa sausage, roasted broccolini, and the famed ‘Ohana noodles.

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    We’ll start with the good – the noodles are back and they tasted exactly like what we remembered! While the portion is insultingly small here, you can (and we did) order a skillet solely dedicated to noodles.

    The rest of this skillet is just okay. There really isn’t a standout option, and we could do without the broccolini completely.

    The chicken comes with “Polynesian-inspired chimichurri sauce” which amounts to a sometimes dry offering that is more cilantro flavor than anything else. Compared to the previous offering of sweet and sour boneless chicken, this really falls flat. Almost impossible to share, the eight-way chicken is far more work than it’s worth and even appeared to be undercooked in places. If the shrimp wasn’t enough of a loss, the chicken should be enough for you to cancel an upcoming reservation. This isn’t the ‘Ohana that you remember and the new direction is disappointing to say the least.

    For as strong as our opinion is of the chicken, we’re more apathetic towards the kielbasa sausage. There’s good flavor here, but it’s not something that will turn the meal around by any means.

    Finally, we have the woodfire-grilled teriyaki beef. This dish was so close to being good that we’re going to chalk up the inconsistencies to first-day jitters. We found our beef to be medium rare at times, but more often a bit tough and well done.

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    We also got quite a bit more of a burnt flavoring than we think the kitchen intended. That said, the teriyaki glaze was delicious and the few bites that we did get that were cooked as intended were outstanding.

    Fans of ‘Ohana will notice that none of the offerings were served via skewer. This is another significant departure from previously offered, and there were too many sacrifices in presentation and preparation to call the menu an upgrade.

    In speaking with managers, they said that there are no current plans to bring back the skewers and that menu choices reflect that decision. Of course, feedback has changed the course of the ‘Ohana menu on more than one occasion, so never say never. Just not anytime soon.

    ‘Ohana Bread Pudding Dessert

    While we’ve seen quite a few deviations from the menu, the bread pudding remains a staple at ‘Ohana and is exactly as we remembered. From a soaked sponge to the delicious caramel sauce, you’ll certainly end your meal on a high note.

    ‘Ohana dinner review

    Overall Thoughts

    Overall, the revamped ‘Ohana dinner menu missed the mark for us. While there are some offerings that stayed on the menu, the new items largely were a downgrade from what was previously offered.

    At $55, it’s really hard for us to recommend ‘Ohana right now, and we’ll surely look elsewhere for the next few months – which is a really hard thing to say when ‘Ohana was previously a meal that we looked forward to.

    A couple of closing thoughts. ‘Ohana is not operating at 100% capacity, so reservations are currently tough to come by. If word on the street is that the menu is a downgrade, we might see those reservations open back up, but for now you should expect limited capacity (maybe 60-70%).

    Also, it was wonderful to have the vibe of ‘Ohana present with the return of live music as a musician played the ukulele while strolling around the dining room. With entertainment maddingly slow to return in many corners of Walt Disney World, live music and performance is a treat when you can experience it.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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    2 COMMENTS

    1. I just don’t see the attraction of the noodles. They are just noodles in teriyaki sauce. Honestly I can get better noodles at Panda Express (and I *hate* Panda Express).

      I think there are two big misses with this menu – the almost complete lack of of use of the grill and the lack of much of anything that is Polynesian. The chicken would be a lot better grilled, ours hardly had any sauce and was almost tasteless. The sausage belongs at a pot-luck in the Midwest, something like a a Portuguese sausage would make more sense here. And the shrimp “casserole” is more like a thick shrimp chowder with a mound of breadcrumbs. However, our second round of steak was cooked properly and was delicious.

      To be honest, with the exception of the steak, I feel like the whole dinner is “heat and serve”. It feels like nothing is being prepared fresh except for the salad and steak. I can get better potstickers in the frozen section at Costco, the same is true of the wings.

    2. Used to be a favorite of mine, but this just doesn’t interest me at all. As much as I can’t wait for Boma to reopen at some point, I’m afraid it too may turn out like this!

    Comments are closed.

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